The jackfruit is a type of tree that is indigenous to India. It produces the world’s largest tree-borne fruit. A jackfruit can way up to 80lb. A fully-grown jackfruit tree can produce 100-200 of these fruits each year. The jackfruit is a multiple fruit comprised of thousands of individual flowers. You eat the petals of the flower.
Jackfruit has a unique flavor and aroma. It is being grown in more places across the world as people acquire a taste for it. The fruit itself is very nutritious, and the jackfruit is touted as a possible solution for areas across the world where hunger and malnutrition persist. You can eat it cooked or raw, on its own or incorporated into a recipe.
The nutritional value of the jackfruit has led to its reputation as a cancer preventer. It contains many vitamins and minerals. However, a lot of the research in this regard is not yet complete. There is still a long way to go. Nevertheless, the health benefits of eating jackfruit are clear.
In addition to being rich in vitamins and minerals, the jackfruit is also rich in phytonutrients or phytochemicals. The plant develops these to help it stave off attacks from germs, fungi, and pests. Phytonutrients are also useful to humans. They are not essential for keeping one alive in the same way as vitamins and minerals but consuming them ensures that the body works properly and some diseases (including cancer) may be prevented. There are 25000 different types of phytonutrients in plants. Here are some of the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients found in the jackfruit that lead scientists and researchers to believe that it can lower the risk of cancer.
1. Phytonutrient – Carotene-ß
Carotene-ß is also known as Beta-carotene. It belongs to the carotenoid family of phytonutrients. There are good quantities of it in many colorful fruits and vegetables. The reason Beta-carotene is regarded as a cancer preventer for three reasons:
- It boosts the immune system. Increased intake of Beta-carotene helps the body fight off the free radicals thought to cause cancer.
- It can act as an antioxidant. The antioxidants introduced into the body by the intake of Beta-carotene can actually destroy free radicals. The body produces free radicals as it makes energy. They are a by-product of the energy production process. These free radicals have a single electron, unlike other molecules which have a pair of electrons. Free radicals look to attach themselves to and destroy any cell they come into contact with in order to pair with another electron. In the destruction of these cells, the body is weakened and more susceptible to illnesses such as cancer.
- It can convert to Vitamin A in the body, which is a known cancer-fighter. However, overdosing on Vitamin A can be dangerous. It is better to consume more Beta-carotene as this allows the body to convert enough of it to satisfy its Vitamin A needs. Excess Beta-carotene is not dangerous to the body.
Several studies have linked regular intake of Beta-carotene to reduced risk of cancer. It is particularly effective in protecting epithelial cells in areas such as the lungs, colon, intestines, bladder, and throat. This means that Beta-carotene can play a significant part in the prevention of cancers of these body areas.
Experts recommend that you ingest Beta-carotene naturally instead of by means of synthetic supplements. They believe that supplements are less effective than natural Beta-carotene.
2. Phytonutrient – Saponins
Saponins belong to the glucosinolates family of phytonutrients. They have a soap-like quality in that if you mix them with water, they produce a lather. The name, in fact, comes from the Latin derivative Sapo, which means soap. Saponins support the immune system and promote the overall wellness of the body as a whole. Their soap-like qualities are very useful in the digestive tract. Saponin binds to the bile acid and helps to expel it from the body in the act of detoxification.
This phytonutrient has antioxidant properties. Studies have revealed that some saponins are in fact able to destroy cancer cells. Others are able to bind themselves to the cancer cell membranes, thereby negatively affecting the ability of the cancer cells to replicate. The Journal of Nutrition reported that saponins had induced the killing of cancer cell and retarded tumor growth. This was in a study that used soybeans as the source of saponins.
Studies and tests are done under controlled conditions. This means that certain saponins are taken and pitted against specific cancer cells. Therefore, until further study has been done, it is only known that saponins may help in the fight against cancer, and it should not be assumed that saponins can have the same effect on all cancer cells.
Even though study and research are in their infancy, all speculation points to the fact that saponins can play a role in cancer prevention. The jackfruit contains saponins and is an excellent way of introducing this phytonutrient into the diet. It is just another reason why this power-packed fruit is good for your health.
3. Phytonutrients – Lignins and isoflavones
Lignins and isoflavones belong to the phytoestrogen family of phytonutrients. The cell composition of these phytonutrients is similar to that of estrogen which is why they are called phytoestrogens. These phytonutrients are introduced to the body by means of the diet. These phytonutrients are important to the body in that they can supplement the body’s estrogen and take up the place in the body that would normally be occupied by estrogen. In doing so, they cause the body to produce less estrogen. They are considerably weaker than human estrogen. This helps to keep excessive hormone activity and fluctuation in the body to the minimum. These are associated with cancer cell growth.
Therefore, the function of lignins and isoflavones is to protect the body’s cells from being exposed to excess levels of estrogen. Research suggests that these chemicals may play a role in preventing breast cancer. There is some additional study to suggest that isoflavones can play a role in the prevention of endometrial cancer. This implies that phytoestrogens can potentially prevent estrogen-related cancers.
These phytonutrients are activated by ingestion and entry to the digestive tract. On contact with the digestive system, they convert to estrogen and go to work in the body to help maintain healthy estrogen levels.
These phytonutrients are associated with leguminous vegetables including soy. However, they are present in other fruits and vegetables such as the jackfruit. It is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables as this habit exposes you to a variety of types and concentrations of important phytonutrients. Therefore, including the jackfruit in your fruit intake will expose the body to phytonutrients it may not be getting sufficient quantities of from other sources.
4. Phytonutrient – Crypto-xanthin-ß
This phytochemical is known as Beta-cryptoxanthin. Like Beta-carotene, it belongs to the carotenoid family of phytonutrients. Once inside the human body, the Beta-cryptoxanthin converts to Vitamin A. Beta-cryptoxanthin is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants prevent free radicals in the body from damaging cells and their DNA. In addition to this, it has been speculated that Beta-cryptoxanthin stimulates the RB gene. This RB gene stops cells from turning into cancer cells.
The January 2004 issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention Studies suggested that Beta-cryptoxanthin can reduce the risk of lung cancer by about 30%. Higher levels of this phytonutrient are also believed to reduce the risk of other cancers. Elementary research reveals that women with cervical cancer and patients with colon cancer have lower than normal levels of Beta-cryptoxanthin in their bodies. A lot of research on Vitamin A and Beta-carotene has been done over the year. But, there is a need for more exhaustive, definitive research on the properties, effects, and benefits of Beta-cryptoxanthin.
One of the strengths of Beta-cryptoxanthin is that it does not break down during the cooking process. Many other vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients are broken down and weakened by the cooking process, and overcooking destroys them. Beta-cryptoxanthin is best combined with a diet that contains fat as it is a fat-soluble substance.
Beta-cryptoxanthin is a phytonutrient which means that it is found in plants. Therefore, it will be consumed by means of eating fruits and vegetables. A wide variety of plant-based foods contain Beta-cryptoxanthin. This includes the jackfruit. By using the jackfruit in a variety of dishes or just eating it as is, you can introduce this vital phytonutrient into your diet.
5. Phytonutrient – Lutein-zeaxanthin
Lutein is a phytonutrient that belongs to the carotenoid family. It has a proven relationship with reduced risk of colon cancer. A study at the Health Research Center in Salt Lake City, Utah revealed that people who consumed more lutein had about a 17% reduced risk of getting colon cancer. The diets of cancer patients were examined from 2 years prior to their diagnosis. This was compared to the diets of healthy people. A causal link between colon cancer and lutein was established, although more research is needed.
Carotenoids such as lutein are being studied increasingly because of their links with cell growth and immune response. Their properties as antioxidants also bear further investigation as scientists believe they have only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to truly understanding these cancer fighters. They are widely thought to have an impact on the risk of cancers such as those of the stomach, breast, neck, head, and prostate gland.
Getting enough carotenoids through your diet is difficult. There is also a perception that only leafy green vegetables contain lutein and zeaxanthin. This is not true. Fruits and vegetables in the yellow, orange and red color spectrum are good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.
That is why a wide variety of fruits and vegetables should form part of the diet. Shop for a broad selection of fruits and vegetables and to include as many different ones. The jackfruit is an ideal addition to the shopping list in this regard. However, to get carotenoid levels up to sufficient levels may include taking a supplement. Anyone with a pre-existing health condition should always seek the advice of a medical healthcare professional before starting to take any supplements.
6. Vitamin C
We’re told from the time we’re young that Vitamin C is important to stave off winter colds and flu because it is an immune booster. Preliminary study indicates that Vitamin C can also play a role in cancer prevention. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which means that it destroys the free radicals that exist in the body as a by-product of energy production. Vitamin C attacks these volatile oxygen free radicals which do damage to our DNA, resulting in the formation of cancerous cells.
One of the things an antioxidant can do to prevent cancer is to cut off the oxygen supply to the cancer cells. However, when this happens, the cancer cells begin to rely on a protein in the free radical cell called HIF-1 (Hypoxia-Induced Factor) to convert sugar in the cells into energy without needing oxygen. The cancer cells can now replicate and grow. In addition, the HIF-1 protein can stimulate the body to build new blood vessels. This allows the cancer cells to get a new supply of oxygen. With oxygen supply re-established, the growth of the tumor will proceed.
During a Johns Hopkins University study, an interesting dimension to Vitamin C emerged. Mice were implanted with two different cancers. The first was human lymphoma. This is a blood cancer. The other was human liver cancer cells. The mice received antioxidants. Some received Vitamin C as an antioxidant.
When they examined the mice, they discovered that the mice treated with Vitamin C showed that HIF-1 had been eliminated. This implies that Vitamin C takes away the free radical cells’ ability to activate HIF-1 and allow the cancer cells to keep growing and replicating. Jackfruit contains Vitamin C to supplement the body’s supply of this important antioxidant.
7. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that is thought to protect the body from various diseases, including cancer. This is because the main function of Vitamin E is to act as an antioxidant in the body. Antioxidants are critical in the body’s fight against cancer. One of the things that set Vitamin E aside is the fact that it is fast-acting. It reacts to and destroys free radical cells before they get a chance to damage the DNA of healthy cells. This prevents the cells from mutating and becoming cancer cells.
This means that, in theory, Vitamin E is able to stop cancer before it starts. Studies have shown it to be effective in relation to colon, prostate, and lung cancers. Vitamin E is produced by plants. It is found in its greatest quantities in plant oils. That is why we need to eat foods rich in Vitamin E in order to have enough of this precious substance in our bodies.
Vitamin E is stored in the body’s fat tissue and is not as accessible as other Vitamins such as Vitamin A. That means that regular Vitamin E intake is required in order to maintain sufficient levels in the body so that its antioxidant properties can be maximized in the fight against free radicals. Interestingly, consuming sufficient Vitamin C helps the body to recycle Vitamin E and use it more than once.
Just because Vitamin E is generally found in high concentrations in plant oils doesn’t mean that it isn’t available in other fruits and vegetables. It is, for instance, found in the jackfruit which can be introduced into the diet to keep Vitamin E levels optimally stable.
8. Mineral – Calcium
There has been a great deal of research into calcium as a preventative for colorectal cancer. It is thought that when calcium binds to bile acids and fatty acids in the digestive tract, it prevents these acids from damaging the colon, thereby stopping the colon from needing to repair itself. When the colon needs to create new cells to repair the damage done by acids, it gives free radicals the chance to invade and attack these cells. Not all the results of the research have been consistent, which means that results have varied greatly from one study to another.
An American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study found that while calcium intake did produce a modest reduction in the risk of getting colorectal cancer, the risk did not decrease the higher the calcium intake. It seemed to level off at an intake of 1200mg of calcium daily. It was also discovered that calcium supplements yielded a better result than calcium intake through diet. So, calcium supplements of 500mg or more daily yielded the most promising reduction of the risk of colorectal cancer.
The National Institutes of Health-American Association of Retired Persons (NIH-AARP) Diet and Health Study analyzed nearly 500,000 people. A reduction of the risk of colorectal cancer of about 20% in men and about 30% of women were determined.
However, there is a warning that increased calcium intake may increase the risk of prostate cancer. The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition found that an increased intake of calcium from dairy products was associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer. Calcium from non-dairy products was not associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer. The jackfruit is an excellent source of non-dairy calcium.
9. Mineral – Iron
In addition to anemia from insufficient iron in the blood, there is also the increased risk of cancer. A compelling study in 2015 found a surprising link between iron deficiency anemia and cancer. The overall risk of cancer among patients with iron deficiency anemia was vastly elevated. This risk was associated with cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, but also cancers of the kidneys, liver, pancreas, and bladder.
Individuals with iron deficiency anemia in Taiwan participated in the study for about ten years. Based on their findings, researchers applied the Standardized Incidence Ratio (SIR). This ratio measures if cancer occurrence in a society is high. If the SIR is 1, this is a norm of the population. If the SIR is 2, it means that the incidence of cancer is 100% more than expected. The ratio of the iron deficiency anemia suffers averaged at 2.15.
Iron is important for the manufacture and functioning of the red blood cells which transport oxygen to the body. When iron is deficient, it can lead to increased oxidative stress which leads to the release of free radicals in the body. These free radicals are regarded as the cause of cancer. Cell membranes are weakened, making them vulnerable.
If the mitochondria of the cells do not have sufficient iron, they cannot function. The mitochondria that are unable to perform affect the heart’s ability to pump. Oxygen is not moving throughout the body, affecting the metabolic ability of cells. The body becomes susceptible to cancer. Too much iron is also bad for the body, and studies suggest that it could also lead to an increased risk of cancer. That is why the iron levels in the body should be maintained at the correct levels.
10. Mineral – Magnesium
Recent studies suggest that supplementing your diet with magnesium-rich foods can lower your risk of cancer, especially colon cancer. Some of the analysis done indicates that for every 100mg higher magnesium intake, the risk of colorectal cancer can decrease by as much as 12%. Researchers indicated a connection between increased magnesium intake and its ability to reduce insulin resistance in the body. There is a lot more research needed, but it seems like the role of magnesium as a potential cancer preventative will magnify in time to come.
It is a fact that very few people get the necessary amount of dietary magnesium they need. This is even true of first world countries where inhabitants are exposed to varied diets. It is due to the poor diet of processed foods that they consume. Unhealthy kidneys, diabetes, and alcohol abuse are linked to decreased levels of magnesium. Magnesium levels also tend to decrease with age. If one of these factors affects you, it would be wise to monitor your magnesium levels.
Magnesium is found in a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. But how much magnesium these foods contain depends on where and how they were grown. Organic fruit and vegetables tend to contain more magnesium as they are not exposed to nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium through the fertilizers used on large-scale farms.
If you feel your magnesium levels may be low, it is advisable to get them tested. You may need to take a magnesium supplement. However, first consult a medical healthcare professional. Its magnesium content makes the jackfruit a useful addition to the daily diet as it can raise your magnesium levels without medical intervention.
11. Mineral – Zinc
Zinc is important for the body’s immune system. It supports various cellular activities that are necessary for the body to survive. Zinc is a fundamental antioxidant that helps to control the immune system and its responses to attacks. As important as it is, zinc is not prioritized in the diet, and a great number of people have a zinc deficiency. This is mainly due to a poor diet. Sugar, carbohydrate-rich diets prevent the body from absorbing what zinc is ingested.
However, there are those who have non-dietary reasons for a zinc deficiency. For instance, people with the leaky gut syndrome have problems absorbing minerals such as zinc.
The first line of defense in the fight against cancer is the immune system. The immune system is dependent on zinc for its proper functioning. Zinc can decrease the rate at which a tumor grows. It can also stimulate and deploy special cells in the immune system called apoptosis. These cells are called programmed death cells. A lack of zinc exposes the body to a variety of cancers. Increased levels of zinc have been linked to a reduced number of tumors as well as the decreased severity of tumors.
A study of individuals with the BRCA1 gene which makes them more susceptible to breast cancer revealed that there was a lower risk of developing cancer among those who had higher levels of zinc in their bodies. Studies of bladder cancer patients revealed low zinc levels. Introducing zinc to these patients pointed to the stimulation of the apoptosis, with an anti-cancer effect. Zinc is obtained by eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. The jackfruit should be included in this diet as it contains zinc.
12. Vitamin B – Folate
Folate is a B vitamin that is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. It is commonly known in its supplement form, namely folic acid. Many foods such as bread are fortified with folic acid. Folate has many important functions in the body. It is vital for cell repair, DNA manufacture, metabolism of the building blocks of protein (amino acids), and the making of both red and white blood cells.
When we speak about the relationship between folate and cancer, we must do so in the knowledge that there is a fine line in how much folate a person should have in their body and when they should take it. It is believed that both too much and too little folate can increase the risk of cancer. Some research indicates that eating foods rich in folate can protect the body against cancer of the pancreas, esophagus, colon, and rectum.
At one stage, researchers were concerned that because foods were being supplemented with folate and people were taking folic acid in addition to that, there was a chance that consumption would be too high. This would, in turn, expose consumers to the risk of getting cancer. However, having studied folate levels in people and their relation to incidences of cancer, they have satisfied themselves that there is no higher risk of cancer. In fact, they managed to determine that this group of people were at a lower risk of developing melanoma (a form of skin cancer).
The jackfruit contains folate in addition to all the other vital vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients it boasts. Therefore, adding it to your diet will give you a folate boost as well.
13. Vitamin B – Niacin
Niacin is more commonly known as Vitamin B3. Niacin is an essential water-soluble vitamin. It has the important job of facilitating the process of converting blood sugar into carbohydrate to be stored in the muscles for use later on. Niacin is also critical to the formation of DNA. Genetic damage can be linked to a lack of niacin. This type of genetic damage can lead to cancer. Therefore, any vitamin that plays a role in DNA replication causes a potential cancer threat if it is not available in the body in sufficient quantities.
Niacin also has a role in supporting the body’s immune system. All vitamins and minerals that impact the immune system must be present in the body so that it can fight off invasions by germs, fungi, bacteria, and free radicals. If the immune system is compromised, the body cannot fight off the threat.
Like most vitamins, niacin is found in a great many foods, mostly in fruits and vegetables. However, the majority of people do not ingest sufficient quantities of niacin through their diet. This is often due to poor diet or malnutrition. As a result, many people take niacin as part of a multivitamin supplement regimen. Some foods are fortified with niacin so that its consumption is increased, which is in the health and wellbeing interests of everyone.
As the jackfruit contains niacin, it is good to have on hand. Consuming it in your diet on its own or including it in a delicious recipe can supplement your niacin levels, giving your immune system a boost. It makes sure that your DNA replication continues uninterrupted, with a much lower risk of cancer.
14. Vitamin B – Riboflavin
Riboflavin is also known as Vitamin B2. Like many other vitamins, it acts as an antioxidant. It plays an important role in ensuring that blood cells are healthy, gives the body an energy boost, and prevents free radical damage. Free radicals and a failure to disrupt or destroy cause the origins of cancer.
Another important property of riboflavin is that it can help to prevent and treat anemia. Iron-deficient anemia is associated with an increased risk of cancer in studies done in Taiwan. Riboflavin assists in the production of red blood cells and stimulates the iron in the bloodstream to perform its functions. When a person already has an iron deficiency and riboflavin deficiency, anemia is an almost certain result.
In some introductory research, a relationship between riboflavin and the prevention of certain cancer types such as esophageal cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer was tentatively established. Researchers are hard at work on the theory that riboflavin minimizes the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. When free radicals are not addressed by the immune system, they can result in cancer.
The sources of riboflavin are many and diverse. It is found in fruits and vegetables, and a lot of grain products such as bread and cereal are fortified with it in order to make sure people get enough riboflavin. This is because few people eat enough fruits and vegetables to get enough riboflavin that way and this would result in many experiencing a riboflavin deficiency. Including a variety of fruits and vegetables helps to increase your riboflavin intake. The jackfruit contains riboflavin and can give your body the extra Vitamin B2 it needs.
15. Vitamin B – Pyridoxine
Vitamin B6 is the alternate name for pyridoxine. It is an important vitamin because without it the sugars, fats, and proteins in your body would not function properly. It is also critical for good brain, nerve, and body growth and development. Pyridoxine is an important player in the body’s immune system which fends off attacks from a variety of sources and keeps us healthy.
When the body’s immune system is compromised by an imbalance of certain vitamins and minerals, it cannot function correctly. This leaves the body vulnerable to the free radicals that are by-products of the energy manufacture undertaken by cells in the body. If the immune system is unable to deal with the free radicals emphatically, they can in time damage cells and their DNA resulting in illnesses such as cancer. That is why it is important to make sure you have achieved the requisite balance of all the elements needed for your immune system to function at optimal levels.
The link between pyridoxine and cancer prevention is still being explored. Studies on the matter have been ongoing for some time but are as yet incomplete. Researchers believe that low levels of pyridoxine could be linked to incidences of colorectal cancer. However, at this stage, there has been no definitive link between increasing Vitamin B6 intake and reduced risk of cancer. Hopefully, further research will be forthcoming so that the cancer-preventing properties of pyridoxine can be fully explored and understood.
Find pyridoxine in cereals, fruits and vegetables, meat, liver, and eggs. It is also included in multivitamins or B-complex supplements. The jackfruit contains a high % of pyridoxine. It is an excellent source of Vitamin B6.