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Is Jackfruit a Good Low Calorie Meat Alternative?

jackfruit low calorie meat alternative

Most people don’t know jack about jackfruit, but you may want to listen up because it’s quickly becoming known as a low calorie meat alternative for vegetarians and nonvegetarians alike. How can a fruit be considered an alternative for meat?


Jackfruit as a meat alternative
Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), which is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, is native to Southeast Asia but also grown in Jamaica, Vietnam, India, and Florida. Weighing in at around 80 to 100 pounds each in some cases, these giant fruits can be enjoyed in a number of ways.

If you want to try jackfruit as a meat substitute, you’ll be glad to know you don’t need to lug home a fruit and cut it up with a machete. Several food manufacturers have capitalized on the new jackfruit craze and introduced marinated jackfruit meat substitute items to the marketplace.

However, if you were to get a piece of jackfruit and cut into it, the inside reveals seeds and a pulp with a taste similar to pears, mangoes, and peaches. That pulp can be crunchy, stringy, or gooey, depending on the variety of fruit. The meat alternatives have a pulled pork or pulled beef texture, so they can be used in a variety of recipes ranging from sandwiches to stews, chili, tacos, stir fry, and burritos.

Jackfruit nutrition
Let’s compare this meat alternative with chicken, ground beef, and pork loin.

  • One cup (165 g) of jackfruit: 155 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 grams fiber, 2 grams protein
  • One cup chopped (140 g) chicken breast: 231 calories, 5 grams fat, 119 mg cholesterol, 0 grams fiber, 43 grams protein
  • 128 grams 80% lean ground beef: 347 calories, 23 g fat, 116 mg cholesterol, 33 g protein
  • 128 grams pork loin: 270 calories, 12 g fat, 109 g cholesterol, 37 g protein

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Jackfruit scores well in every category except protein. However, this lower calorie, zero-fat, zero-cholesterol food can serve as an occasional alternative not only for meat but for seitan, tofu, and texturized vegetable protein as well. Here’s a link to a pulled “pork” recipe you might want to try as well as one for tacos.

Other ways to enjoy jackfruit
People around the world enjoy jackfruit pulp in a number of ways, including roasted, mashed, dried, and juiced. It is also added to soups and used to make jellies and ice cream. Jackfruit flour can be made from the seeds, which can be boiled or roasted.

If you have an Asian market in your area, you may find jackfruit in the produce section (cut into small pieces). Take home a piece and try it! The meat alternative items are slowly making their way into stores and can also be ordered online. Two brands on the market include Upton’s Naturals and Jackfruit Company.


Image courtesy Pixabay