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Breadfruit nutrition facts

Breadfruit is the produce of a huge tropical rain-forest fruiting tree in the mulberry family. It is closely related to the other tropical fruits such as jackfruit, breadnut, figs, and mulberries.

Binomially, the fruit belongs to the family of Moraceae, of the genus: Artocarpus.

Scientific name: Artocarpus altilis.

Breadfruit. Note for white latex stain.
(Photo courtesy: Peter Long)

Breadfruit is a very large evergreen tree found commonly in the tropical rain forests of Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Southern India. It actually is used as subsistence food in line with other tropical staples such as rice, sweet potatoes, taro, banana, and coconut in many of the East Asian, Micronesia, Polynesian, and Caribbean countries.

Breadfruit tree has many similarities to jackfruit, with the exception is that it produces fruits on twigs and terminal, small branches. On the jackfruit tree, however, fruits arise (erupt) from the trunk and major branches.

An adult breadfruit tree produces hundreds of fruits during each season. They, however, can come in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. Breadfruit generally features a round or globular shape and weighs about 1 to 5 kg. Its outer surface is covered with spikes similar to that in breadnut, jackfruit, and durian. Cut-section reveals thick rind, enclosing smooth, off-white to cream color flesh. Some of the breadfruit varieties feature smooth, brown color seeds interspersed in between soft tissue. The seeds are edible, have a nutty texture and flavor.

Mature fruits ripe rather quickly and feature soft, sweet, creamy flesh that can be eaten raw.

Almost all parts of the breadfruit plant exude thin, milky-white latex upon inflicting damage similar to jackfruit.

Health benefits of Breadfruit

  1. As in line with other tropical fruits, breadfruit also holds more calories. 100 g fresh fruit provides 102 calories. Carbohydrates make up a significant fraction of this energy. As the fruit ripens, much of this starch converted into sucrose and simple sugars like fructose and glucose. Hence, the ripe fruits are sweeter and have a pleasant custardy aroma.

  2. Its pulp has more fiber than that in jackfruit which makes it a good bulk laxative. Dietary fiber helps reduce blood cholesterol by preventing its absorption in the gut, reduce obesity, blood pressure and help protect the colon mucosa by warding off cancer-causing chemicals from the colon.

  3. It has small amounts of flavonoid antioxidants in the form of xanthin and lutein. Yellow-orange varieties have more of these compounds.

  4. Breadfruit carries more vitamin-C than jackfruit and banana; provide about 29 mg or 48% of RDA. Vitamin-C (ascorbic acid) is a strong water-soluble antioxidant. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin-C helps the human body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals.

  5. The fruit has moderate levels of essential vitamins and minerals. Like other tropical delicacies, it is rich in many vital B-complex groups of vitamins. The fruit is a moderate source of vitamins, especially thiamin, pyridoxine, and niacin.

  6. Fresh fruit is an excellent source of potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Its pulp is good in copper, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

  7. Breadfruit seeds contain moderate levels of protein; 100 g seeds provide 7.4 g or 13% of daily recommended values. However, they are excellent sources of minerals like potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, manganese, etc.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis), Nutritive Value per 100 g. (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percent of RDA
Energy 103 Kcal 5%
Carbohydrates 27.12 g 21%
Protein 1.07 g 2%
Total Fat 0.20 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 4.9 g 13%
Folates 14 μg 3.5%
Niacin 0.900 mg 6%
Pyridoxine 0.100 mg 8%
Riboflavin 0.030 mg 2%
Thiamin 0.110mg 9%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin C 29 mg 48%
Vitamin E 0.10 mg 1%
Vitamin K 0.5 &mug <1%
Sodium 2 mg 0%
Potassium 490 mg 10.5%
Calcium 17 mg 2%
Copper 0.084 mg 9%
Iron 0.54 mg 7%
Magnesium 25 mg 6%
Manganese 0.060 mg 2.5%
Phosphorus 30 mg 4%
Selenium 0.6 µg 1%
Zinc 0.12 mg 1%
Carotene-ß 0 µg --
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 µg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 22 µg --

Selection and storage

Breadfruit season coincides with other tropical abundances like durian, mango, jackfruit, etc., from May until September. Some of its varieties can be available year-round. In general, fruits that are mature but just short of ripeness, gathered by hand-picking from the tree.

In the local markets, breadfruit is available in different sizes, shapes, and colors. You may come across seedless or seed varieties in the markets.

Mature but unripe fruit is rather preferred as a vegetable and used in curry/stews/dumpling recipes. The fruit continues to ripen even after picking-up from the tree. Its bright green color gradually turns to light brown as it ripens. Ripen fruits impart fragrant-rich that reminiscence freshly baked sourdough bread smell and have a sour-sweet, custard apple-like taste. As the fruit ripens its starch turns to sugar, giving a pleasant and intensified fruity smell.

At home, place it in a cool, well-ventilated place. If not used immediately, it will ripen in the next 2-3 days as in jackfruit. The fruit is said to ripen when it yields to gentle thumb pressure.

Ripe fruit should be eaten soon, or else it deteriorates rather quickly. Inhabitants of the Pacific Islands have mastered some unique, ancient techniques to preserve it for off-season uses. The fruit is sun-dried and milled, or fermented in underground ovens. It cannot be stored in the refrigerator since it sustains chilling injury when stored below 12 degrees F.

Preparation and serving method

Breadfruit is used along with other tropical staples like plantain, banana, yam, potato, and rice in the Pacific region as a major starch source. The fruit can be used at different stages of maturity; at its bud stage, immature, mature but firm and when fully ripe. Breadfruit seeds, rich in protein, can be eaten roasted or boiled like nuts/lentils. Raw, uncooked seeds should not be eaten as they are bitter in taste and may choke.

To prepare, place the fruit on a clean surface and peel its outer skin using a paring knife. Cut the flesh as you do in case of any big-size vegetables and fruits such as pumpkin, butternut squash, muskmelons, etc., into cubes, chunks, slices, or small pieces. In general, cut into quarters, and trim away its fiber-rich central core and discard. In some parts, the whole fruit is roasted intact, which is then peeled and either eaten with seasoning or added to recipes. The ripe fruit used in a similar way like durian or jackfruit.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Raw breadfruit cubes may be added to stews, soups, curry, baking, and stir-fries much like potatoes.

  • Its slices fried and eaten like plantain chips. Thin slices can be made into chips.

  • The fruit is popular as rimas in the philippines where its slices are candied and enjoyed!

  • Fresh ripe fruit is eaten much like dessert. It can be added to make a sweet bread, muffins, cakes, puddings, etc.

  • In the seed variety of breadfruit, its seeds are gathered, sun-dried, and used much like other nuts and kernels.

Safety profile

Allergy or intolerance to breadfruit is rare. However, unripe, raw green-stage fruit should be used only after cooking since its flesh may choke the respiratory tract. Once ripen, however, the fruit can be eaten as it is. (Medical disclaimer).

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Further resources:

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database.

  2. A Review on Artocarpus altilis-pdf

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