Breadfruit Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is the fruit of the breadfruit tree, though it is often referred to as a vegetable when consumed before it is fully ripe. This starchy food is high in carbs and fiber while low in fat, making it a good addition to healthy eating plans that allow for higher carbohydrate foods.

Breadfruit Nutrition Facts

One cup of raw breadfruit (220g) provides 227 calories, 2.4g of protein, 60g of carbohydrates, and 0.5g of fat. Breadfruit is an excellent source of potassium, vitamin C, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), thiamin (B1), and fiber. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.1

  • Calories: 227
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 4.4mg
  • Carbohydrates: 60g
  • Fiber: 10.8g
  • Sugars: 24.2g
  • Protein: 2.4g
  • Potassium: 1080mg
  • Vitamin C: 63.8mg
  • Calcium: 37.4mg

Carbs

There are 60 grams of carbs in a one-cup serving of breadfruit or if you have diabetes or are counting carbs, it is 4 carb count (1 carb count equals 15 grams of carbs). Around 24 grams come from naturally occurring sugar and roughly the same amount comes from starch. You also benefit from almost 11 grams of fiber.

In comparison, one cup of potatoes contains about 26 grams2 of carbohydrates and one cup of cooked white rice (enriched) about 53 grams.3

Though high in carbs, breadfruit is considered a low-to-moderate food on the glycemic index (GI).4 This index is used to gauge how much a food impacts blood glucose if eaten alone. Knowing the GI of foods assists with blood sugar management, as high GI foods can make diabetes harder to control.5

Fats

There is less than one gram of fat in a cup of raw breadfruit, making this a low-fat food. The very small amount of fat it does contain is polyunsaturated fat. This is the fat known to help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, which reduces heart disease risk.6

However, breadfruit is often prepared with fats such as oil, lard, and butter—all of which increase fat content. If butter or another animal fat is used in its preparation, this increases saturated fat, which raises heart disease risk.7

Protein

Breadfruit is not a significant source of protein, providing around 2.4 grams per serving.

However, the protein in breadfruit is mostly leucine and lycine.8 These essential amino acids must be consumed in foods because the body cannot produce them on its own.

Vitamins and Minerals

Breadfruit is an excellent source of potassium, offering 1080 milligrams per cup. For reference, it is recommended that adult males consume 3,400 milligrams per day with adult females needing 2,600 milligrams daily (based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet).9 This nutrient is of public health concern because not many people consume the recommended amount.10 So, you can feel better about eating this fruit.

A one-cup serving of breadfruit also provides nearly 64 milligrams of vitamin C, or 85% of the recommended daily intake for adult women and 71% for adult men.11 You also get just over 37 milligrams of calcium, contributing to the recommended intake of this important mineral.

Other vitamins in breadfruit include pantothenic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin K, vitamin E, and folate. Other minerals include magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and selenium.

Calories

There are 227 calories in a one-cup serving of breadfruit. That makes it slightly higher than potatoes (164 calories in one medium-sized potato)2 and a little lower than enriched white rice (242 calories per cup).3

Summary

Breadfruit is a nutrient-dense source of carbohydrates that is high in fiber and low in fat. One cup of breadfruit contains a good dose of potassium, vitamin C, and calcium.

Health Benefits

The nutrients and plant compounds in this starchy fruit offer many potential health benefits.

Reduces Joint and Muscle Pain

Breadfruit is a rich source of prenylated phenolic compounds. Research indicates that these compounds may be helpful in the treatment of rheumatic and muscular pain.8 However, more research is needed to validate its use.

Suitable for Gluten-Free Diets

Since breadfruit is gluten-free, its flour offers a gut-friendly alternative for those who have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Prevents Bacterial Infections

Breadfruit extracts containing ethyl acetate and methanol have been found to have antibacterial effects, especially in regard to bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.8

Streptococcus mutans is found in the mouth and contributes to dental plaque and cavities. Pseudomonas aeruginosa can lead to pneumonia (a lung infection), blood infection, or infection after surgery.12 Typically, this risk is increased in hospitals, with people who are on ventilators, catheters, and with burns or surgeries.

Lowers Risk of Diabetes

One review of 41 studies noted that, despite the fact that many of these studies didn’t provide a lot of botanical information about breadfruit, there was enough evidence to suggest that it may have the potential to prevent type 2 diabetes.13

Supports Eye Health

Breadfruit is rich in carotenoids. Carotenoids are vitamin A precursors, which means that carotenoids can transform into vitamin A. As such, they help to maintain healthy eyesight.14

The native people of Indonesia and the Pacific Islands have traditionally used the fruit pulp as a liver tonic and as a treatment for liver cirrhosis or hypertension.8 However, there is little scientific evidence to support these uses.

Allergies

Breadfruit is in the mulberry or fig family. While mulberry allergy is relatively rare, if you are allergic to birch pollen, you may experience cross-reactivity, resulting in allergy-like symptoms.15

Adverse Effects

Certain breadfruit extracts act as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors; therefore, if you take other 5-alpha reductase inhibiting substances, breadfruit can compound their effect.16 Drugs in this category are sometimes used in the treatment of enlarged prostate and male pattern hair loss.17

Other components of breadfruit may potentially interact with anticoagulant and antifungal treatments as well.16

Varieties

There are three main species of breadfruit known as the “breadfruit complex”:18

  • Artocarpus altilis is grown in the Pacific Islands. The fruit is round, oval, or oblong and range in color from yellow to light green when mature. It can be eaten raw or cooked.
  • Artocarpus camansi is native to New Guinea. The fruit is oblong and spiky with a green to green-brown color. It is often slice and boiled, then used in soups, stews, and salads.
  • Artocarpus mariannensis is native to Palau and the Mariana Islands. The fruit is small and has a pebbly texture with a dark green color. This fruit has a sweet flavor and aroma.

When It’s Best

You aren’t likely to find breadfruit in your local grocery store. If you have a Caribbean specialty store in your area, it may stock breadfruit, which is in season from July to February.

If you choose to use it as a vegetable, look for less ripe fruits with greenish-yellow skin, a firm texture, and bright green flesh. If you use it as a fruit, look for a yellow-brown peel and a softer texture.

Breadfruit bruises easily, so check for bruises or soft spots. Some brown cracking is okay, and a bit of white sap is normal.

Storage and Food Safety

In some parts of the world, breadfruit is stored in cold water until it is used to prevent bruising. If you prefer not to store it in water, you can keep it in the refrigerator. Baked breadfruit can be kept for one to two days without refrigeration.

How to Prepare

Breadfruit is starchy, similar to a potato. It can be baked, steamed, fried, sautéed, or used in dishes like soups and stews. Most agree that the starchy texture is relatively bland, which makes it versatile to use in both sweet and savory recipes.

Breadfruit seeds (breadnuts) can be used in several traditional food preparations instead of yams, which are generally more expensive.19

The riper, sweeter version of breadfruit is commonly compared to a banana. It can be used in fritters, pancakes, or bread recipes. Breadfruit can also be mashed for use in savory dips.

To handle breadfruit properly, first remove the stem, then wash the fruit. You may want to cut the fruit into quarters and core it for easier use. The skin can be peeled either before or after cooking, but it may be easier to do after cooking.

Popular breadfruit dishes include a potato-like salad, breadfruit curry, breadfruit cooked in coconut cream, breadfruit chowder, or breadfruit with corned beef. Flan, breadfruit beverages, and breadfruit chips are also common.

Recipes

Healthy Breadfruit Recipes to Try

Sources:

  1. Breadfruit, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.
  2. Potatoes, flesh and skin, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.
  3. Rice, white, short-grain, enriched, cooked. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.
  4. Ragone D. Breadfruit—Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg. Exotic Fruits. 2018:53-60. doi:10/1016/B978-0-12-803138-4.00009-5
  5. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Glycemic index and diabetes. Updated October 18, 2020.
  6. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Facts about polyunsaturated fats. Updated May 26, 2020.
  7. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Facts about saturated fats. Updated May 26, 2020.
  8. Ramalingum N, Mahomoodally MF. The therapeutic potential of medicinal foods. Adv Pharmacol Sci. 2014;2014:354264. doi:10.1155/2014/354264
  9. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Potassium: Fact sheet for consumers. Updated March 22, 2021.
  10. Use of the Term “Healthy” in the Labeling of Human Food Products: Guidance for Industry. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. September 2016
  11. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin C: Fact sheet for consumers. Updated March 22, 2021.
  12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthcare-associated infections: Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Updated November 13, 2019.
  13. Turi C, Liu Y, Ragone D, Murch S. Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis and hybrids): A traditional crop with the potential to prevent hunger and mitigate diabetes in Oceania. Trends Food Sci Tech. 2015;45(2):264-72. doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2015.07.014
  14. Bawa S, Webb M. Nutritional and health effects of the consumption of breadfruit. Tropical Agricult. 2016;93(1).
  15. Choi J, Sim J, Oh J, et al. An IgE-mediated allergic reaction caused by mulberry fruit. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2015;7(2):195-8. doi:10.4168/aair.2015.7.2.195
  16. Sikarwar M, Hui B, Subramaniam K, Valcisamy B, Yean L, Balaji K. A review on Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg (breadfruit). J App Pharmaceut Sci. 2014;4(8):91-7. doi:10.7324/JAPS.2014.40818
  17. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 5-alpha reductase inhibitor information. Updated October 14, 2016.
  18. National Tropical Botanical Garden. Breadfruit species.
  19. Olatunya AM, Olatunya OS, Akintayo ET. Potential health and economic benefits of three locally grown nuts in Nigeria: implications for developing countries. Heliyon. 2017;3(10):e00414. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2017.e00414

Important Notice: This article was originally published at www.verywellfit.com bMalia Frey where all credits are due. Medically reviewed by Jonathan Valdez, RDN, CDE, CPT.

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