Nature’s Bread – The Breadfruit

I’ve always considered the breadfruit to be “nature’s bread“, having the right combination of nutrients that is suitable for our daily nutritional needs. This fruit, which is gluten free, is actually treated as a vegetable and may be prepared in various ways.

The name of the breadfruit tree (Artocarpus altilis) contains the the combination of Greek words “artos” meaning “bread” and “karpos” meaning “fruit”.  It is an evergreen tree that grows to heights of approx. 65 ft. (20 m).The breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is globose to oblong in shape, with its rind being light green in colour, and yellowish-green when mature.  The surface of the breadfruit can be smooth to slightly bumpy or spiny (depending on the variety); and its flesh, creamy white or pale yellow in colour.

Its seeds are thin and dark-brown in colour, with an outer skin that is approx. 0.5 mm thick.Breadfruit can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as a snack. It is also used in appetizers, soups, and desserts. Allergy to breadfruit is considered rare, and the fruits can be cooked and eaten at all stages of its development.

The young fruits are boiled or they may be pickled and marinated; while the mature fruits can be eaten boiled, fried, baked, roasted, or raw (when ripened).  Over-ripe breadfruits can also be used to make a nutritious drink.

The breadfruit when dried, is made into powdered form and used as a substitute for ‘flour’ in baking and frying foods.  Just recently our neighbour made us taste of his sweet and sour breadfruit and curried breadfruit dishes.

Young Breadfruit

I read in the penultimate paragraphs at this link (@ www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/captain-blighs-cursed-breadfruit) that:

One hundred grams of roasted breadfruit contains 160 calories, two grams of protein, 37 grams of carbohydrates, as well as calcium and other minerals.
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Breadfruit is eaten roasted, grilled, fried, steamed, boiled and buttered, and as chips and fritters. When over-ripe, the liquid fruit can be poured out of its skin to make pancakes; and when mashed with sugar and spices, it makes a pudding.
Roasted Breadfruits
Roasted Breadfruits

I also read from this other link (@ http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131127/health/health2.html) that roasted or baked breadfruit provides twice as many kilocalories than boiled breadfruit.

When roasted or baked, the calories and nutrients are more because water is removed (evaporation); while breadfruit that is boiled absorbs some of the water it is cooked in and the nutrients are removed into the water in the pot.

Roasted Breadfruit, peeled and sliced

The breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is rich in dietary fiber, and is a good source of iron, calcium, potassium, and riboflavin. It contains less calories than other baked products and is a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Some benefits of eating breadfruit are:

  • Breadfruit helps to reduce bad cholesterol while inducing the amount of good cholesterol in the body.
  • It promotes proper functioning of the bowel and helps prevent heartburn, acid reflux, gastritis, and ulcers. It also binds to harmful substances in the intestines and reduces the risk of developing colon cancer (i.e. breadfruit fiber drains out toxins from the intestine).
  • Eating breadfruit slows the absorption of glucose from the blood into the cells, therefore controlling blood sugars, especially in persons with diabetes.
  • Breadfruit contains anti-oxidants which helps with resistance against infections and gets rid of free radicals which cause ageing and cancer.
  • The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in breadfruit are beneficial for skin and hair, and good for maintaining a healthy heart. And because, omega-3 fatty acid is also essential for the growth of brain and mind, experts have commented that regular intake of breadfruit can help a growing child in the development of his/her brain to a great extent.

The breadfruit also has a high content of magnesium that helps to relieve insomnia and prevent muscle contractions. Eating breadfruit also makes you feel full without a huge intake of calories, which is good news for those persons desirous of losing weight.

Fried Roasted Breadfruit, sprinkled with salt

Roasted and baked breadfruit that have been peeled, may be stored in foil and kept refrigerated for up to two weeks; or they may be kept frozen to be eaten at a later date when the fruit is out of season.

Please Note:
* Breadfruit, like other staples, should be eaten in moderation, as eating too much may result in weight gain.
* Breadfruit is not recommended for persons with chronic kidney disease and should not be eaten by those persons on a low potassium diet, unless it is leached. Leaching involves soaking the breadfruit in large amounts of water overnight and throwing off this water about four to five times.

For most persons, the breadfruit may be eaten regularly without the chance of any side effects.
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Medicinal Uses Of The Breadfruit

The breadfruit tree (Artocarpus altilis) is also known for its medicinal benefits; all parts of the tree have medicinal uses:

  • The bark is used in several Pacific Islands to treat headache.
  • Bark extracts exhibited strong cytotoxic activities against leukaemia cells in tissue culture.
  • Extracts from roots, stems and barks showed some antimicrobial activity against Gram-positive bacteria and may have potential in treating tumours.
  • The root is an astringent and is used as a purgative; when macerated it was used as a poultice for skin ailments.
  • The pap from the breadfruit tree can be applied to eczema and psoriasis rashes to settle outbreaks. It is also commonly used to treat skin ailments and fungal diseases such as thrush.
  • Latex and juice from the crushed leaves are both traditionally used in the Pacific Islands to treat ear infections.
  • Leaves are used in Taiwan to treat liver diseases and fevers,
  • In the West Indies, the yellowing leaf is brewed into a tea and taken to reduce high blood pressure. The tea is also thought to control diabetes.
  • The breadfruit leaf is believed to lower blood pressure and is also believed to reduce asthma.
  • Toasted flowers are rubbed on the gums around aching teeth as a cure for toothache.
  • An extract from the flowers was effective in treating ear oedema.

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Main References:

  1. www.stylecraze.com/articles/benefits-of-breadfruit-for-skin-hair-and-health/ (with Nutrition Chart)
  2. www.fruitsinfo.com/breadfruit-tropical-fruit.php (with Nutrition Chart)
  3. http://jamaica-star.com/article/lifestyle/20180423/check-truth-about-breadfruit
  4. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131127/health/health2.html
  5. https://florafaunaweb.nparks.gov.sg/Special-Pages/plant-detail.aspx?id=2731
  6. http://www.worldagroforestry.org/treedb/AFTPDFS/Artocarpus_altilis.PDF

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