Is it safe to eat jackfruit during pregnancy?

Is it Safe to Eat Jackfruit During Pregnancy?

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Jackfruit is an exotic fruit gaining more popularity as a meat substitute among vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based moms-to-be. However, with its pregnancy related myth floating around, you might be wondering, is it safe to eat jackfruit during pregnancy? 

Read on to find out more about the safety of jackfruit during pregnancy and when to avoid eating jackfruit. I’ve also included 9 benefits of jackfruit during pregnancy and 5 popular jackfruit dishes to enjoy in pregnancy. 

To get right into it, let’s cut to the chase and answer the most commonly asked question:

Is it Safe to Eat Jackfruit During Pregnancy?

The short answer is yes, it is safe to eat jackfruit during pregnancy when consumed in healthy amounts. It is safe to eat jackfruit during your first trimester, second trimester, and third trimester too. What’s more is that jackfruit can provide your body with many benefits throughout all trimesters of pregnancy (more below).

You can enjoy jackfruit as a healthy fruit option, or meat substitute during pregnancy in many of its forms including:

  • Ripe jackfruit (sweet)
  • Unripe jackfruit (savory)
  • Raw jackfruit
  • Cooked jackfruit
  • Jackfruit seeds (cooked *do not consume raw jackfruit seeds during pregnancy*)

So why do some women hesitate when it comes to eating jackfruit during pregnancy? It is likely thanks to the long lived myth relating to jackfruit and miscarriage.

Debunking the Myth: Does Jackfruit Cause Miscarriage?

Let’s cut to the chase: there is no scientific evidence to support the statement that eating jackfruit causes miscarriages. 

So where does this myth come from you might ask…

As with many common pregnancy myths, this one stems back many generations. One study identified a community of women located in rural West Bengal, believe that “heat” producing foods (including papaya, banana, coconut, pineapple, red chilies, jackfruit, meat, and egg) are harmful to mothers. They believe pregnancy is a hot state, and thus heat producing foods are harmful to the mother and may cause a miscarriage. While there is no evidence to support this statement, the food taboo is still being passed on and shared among women today.

Now I will say, too much of anything is not always a good thing. As with all foods, it is recommended to consume individual foods in moderation. Diversify your diet with a variety of foods to provide your body with nutrients for optimal health during pregnancy.

When to Avoid Jackfruit in Pregnancy

While jackfruit is considered safe to consume in healthy amounts during pregnancy, it is not necessarily safe for everyone. If you have certain underlying medical conditions, you may need to avoid eating jackfruit altogether. 

Avoid eating jackfruit if any of the following apply to you:

Allergy to birch pollen

Some fruits and trees have cross-reactivity when it comes to their allergen profiles. Findings suggest those with a birch pollen allergy may also have sensitization to jackfruit. Until further research is available, it is best to avoid eating jackfruit if you also have an allergy to birch pollen.

Allergy to latex

There has been one case report of anaphylaxis with consumption of jackfruit in a patient who also had a latex allergy. It is recommended to avoid jackfruit if you have a latex allergy.

Taking anticoagulant medication

Jackfruit seeds may increase the risk of bleeding when consumed while taking anticoagulant medications. Avoid eating jackfruit while on medications that increase your risk of bleeding (including aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs).

Taking antibiotics

Different parts of the jackfruit plant may exhibit antibacterial activity, thus caution is advised in consuming jackfruit for those taking antibiotics due to possible additive effects.

Avoid Raw Jackfruit Seeds

It is recommended not to consume raw jackfruit seeds. Jackfruit seeds contain tannins and trypsin inhibitors, otherwise known as antinutrients. 

raw jackfruit seeds

What Are Antinutrients?

Tannins may interfere with your ability to absorb nutrients such as iron and zinc. Trypsin inhibitors can interfere with digestion of proteins.

The good news is, heat can deactivate the antinutrient effects.  Meaning you can enjoy baked and roasted jackfruit seeds during pregnancy (see recipes below).

As always, discuss with your medical provider before making any dietary changes during pregnancy.

So now that you know you can safely eat jackfruit during pregnancy, you might be wondering…

Is Jackfruit Good for Pregnancy?

The short answer: yes! Jackfruit is good for pregnancy and can provide your body with many nutritional benefits. As a tropical fruit, jackfruit is filled with fiber and packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which support a healthy pregnancy! 

Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional value of jackfruit.

Nutritional Value of Jackfruit

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture one cup of sliced jackfruit provides:

  • 157 calories (a nutrient dense source of energy!)
  • 2.8 grams of Protein* (relatively high compared to most fruits and vegetables)
  • 2.5 grams of Fiber (good for digestion)

Other beneficial nutrients include:

  • Vitamin C: 22.6 mg (more than 20% of your Vitamin C needs during pregnancy)
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3)
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Jackfruit is also rich in antioxidants, including carotenoids, flavonoids, lignans, and other phytochemicals which are plant compounds known to fight inflammation in the body.

*It should be noted that while jackfruit is relatively high in protein compared to other fruits and vegetables, it is relatively low compared to other meat substitutes. If consuming jackfruit as a meat alternative while following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, it is recommended to include other protein sources in your diet as well. Especially given the increased protein needs throughout pregnancy. 

Work with your healthcare provider, or consult with a dietitian to determine your individualized nutrition needs.

9 Benefits of Jackfruit During Pregnancy

A nutrient dense fruit, jackfruit supplies your body with many health benefits during pregnancy! Let’s dive into a few of the health benefits of jackfruit during pregnancy below.

1. Enhanced Immunity

Your immune system fluctuates in strength throughout pregnancy. A rich source of antioxidants, including Vitamins A and C, jackfruit can help boost your immune system throughout pregnancy.

2. Stimulates Digestion

Constipation and other digestive-related problems are common pregnancy complaints. The rich fiber content (meeting almost 10% of your needs in 1 cup) of jackfruit can help to regulate your bowel movements.

3. Blood Sugar Control

Jackfruit is a good source of fiber and has a relatively low glycemic index (GI) score, both of which can help stabilize blood sugars for those with diabetes (including gestational diabetes) during pregnancy.

4. Neural Tube Development of Baby

Rich in folate, a nutrient essential for neural tube development, consumption of jackfruit can help with fetal development as early as the first trimester. 

5. Keeps the Heart Healthy

A good source of potassium, incorporating jackfruit into your diet during pregnancy, may help with blood pressure control. Potassium can help regulate blood pressure and may reduce your risk of preeclampsia

6. Promotes Healthy Skin and Collagen Formation

With its high vitamin C content, jackfruit can help to promote healthy skin. Vitamin C plays a role in collagen production, the most abundant protein in your body that helps with skin elasticity and joint health. Collagen needs increase substantially during pregnancy as your skin and other organs stretch and expand to make a healthy home for your baby.

7. Bone Health of Mom and Baby

A source of calcium and magnesium, two essential nutrients for bone health, eating jackfruit during pregnancy can help improve bone health of both mom and bone development of baby.

8. Increased Energy

B vitamins play a crucial role in many cellular functions, including the release of glucose to be used in your body as energy. Jackfruit is rich in B vitamins and may help with that energy boost you are looking for during pregnancy.

9. Prevention of Anemia

Iron needs increase during pregnancy, particularly in the second half of pregnancy as your blood volume increases. This rise in blood volume increases the demand of iron to make hemoglobin to transfer oxygen throughout the body. Jackfruit, and jackfruit seeds in particular, are a source of iron which is an important component of hemoglobin and can help prevent iron deficiency anemia

Now that you know it is safe to eat jackfruit during pregnancy, and may even provide you with some health benefits during pregnancy, on to the next question…

Where to Buy Jackfruit?

Jackfruit is an exotic fruit grown and harvested in tropical regions, but it is gaining more popularity in the US and can be found in many grocery stores.

During the summertime (in season), fresh jackfruit can be found in the produce aisle. Look for a large green fruit shaped like a watermelon, but with spikes on it.

When out of season, you can find jackfruit in most grocery stores as canned or frozen, seasoned or plain. It is most commonly found in the Asian food section or next to other meat substitutes. 

How to Select the Best Jackfruit

Depending on how you plan to enjoy your jackfruit will determine which jackfruit you choose to buy. Jackfruit can be purchased raw (ripe or unripe), canned, or packaged. 

Unripe jackfruit will be darker green in color with hard thorns and is enjoyed best as a meat alternative given its neutral flavor. Ripe jackfruit will have softer thorns and is best if eating right away as a sweet addition to yogurt or as dessert on its own.

Canned and packaged jackfruit can typically be found near other meat substitutes in the grocery store. Look for the labels “young” or “packed in brine” if your goal is to enjoy it as a meat substitute.

How to Cut Jackfruit

When attempting to eat jackfruit for the first time, you may be unsure about how to tackle opening it up to enjoy it in the first place.

Here is a detailed video on how to cut open a jackfruit in your home (fast forward to 2:50 minutes if you want to cut to the chase).

Note: the insides of jackfruit are sticky so wearing gloves is advised!

Ways to Enjoy Jackfruit During Pregnancy

Jackfruit is very versatile and is becoming a popular meat substitute for those who choose to follow a more plant-based lifestyle during pregnancy, or are vegan or vegetarian. Here are just a few of the ways you can enjoy jackfruit during pregnancy:

  • Plain (sweet when ripe, savory/neutral when unripe)
  • Added to smoothies or yogurt (most commonly ripe jackfruit as it has a sweeter flavor like other tropical fruits such as mangoes)
  • Unripe and savory as a meat substitute in tacos, vegan pulled pork sandwiches and more (the stringy texture of jackfruit makes “pulled jackfruit” a big hit as a meat substitute)
  • Cooked jackfruit seeds as a snack
  • Homemade jackfruit chips

5 Popular Jackfruit Recipes to Enjoy During Pregnancy

Ready to enjoy jackfruit during pregnancy? Below are 5 popular jackfruit recipes to get you started:

  1. Dinner ready in 30 minutes with Vegan Jackfruit Birria Tacos
  2. Savory Vegan Pulled Pork Banh Mi with Jackfruit
  3. One pot Jackfruit Chili Con Carne – ready in 60 minutes!
  4. Keep warm with Easy Jackfruit Curry
  5. Enjoy Jackfruit Seed Hummus with your favorite veggie as a snack!

Jackfruit in Pregnancy 

Offering many health benefits, it is safe to eat jackfruit during pregnancy, in moderation, and it can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Whether you enjoy it ripe on its own as a sweet snack or dessert, or as a meat alternative while following a plant-based diet, share with me your favorite way to enjoy jackfruit during pregnancy in the comments below!

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