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World Diabetes Day is celebrated every year on 14 November to raise awareness on this chronic global health issue for its early detection and prevention, as well as, support people with diabetes to manage the condition well and prevent its complications.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition. According to the WHO, it holds the seventh position for the overall mortality rate caused due to non-contagious diseases (not transmissible directly from one person to another).
Diabetes is also among the most common chronic condition of the 21st century. Lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise can help manage the severity of the condition to a great extent.
There are many foods available in the market that may help manage diabetes, reverse it in prediabetics or even prevent the condition. One such nutritional food is jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus).
Jackfruit, in its green or unripe form, is used to prepare different dishes, while the ripe fruit is preferred to be eaten raw due to its sweet taste and pleasant aroma; it smells like a combination of banana and pineapple.
This article will explain how jackfruit is associated with diabetes. Take a look.
Nutrients In Jackfruit
A study has shown that jackfruit contains the following phytochemicals: flavonoids, sterols, carotenoids, tannins, proanthocyanidin and volatile acids. Other phenolic compounds in this vegetable may include aryl benzofurans and stilbenoids.
Some of the essential nutrients in jackfruit (100g) include water (73.5 g), energy (397 kJ), protein (1.72 g), fibre (1.5 g), calcium (24 mg), iron (0.23 mg), magnesium (29 mg), potassium (448 mg), phosphorus (21 mg), sodium (2 mg), vitamin C (13.7 mg) and folate (24 mcg). 
Other nutrients in jackfruit include zinc, manganese, copper, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin E.
Reasons Why Jackfruit Could Be Safe For People With Diabetes
1. Has anti-inflammatory effects
Inflammation is considered to be one of the primary causes of diabetes. Jackfruit has anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of vital phenolic compounds such as flavonoids. The flavonoids may help inhibit the release of inflammatory cytokines in the body and thus, prevent related diseases such as diabetes. In people who are with the condition, jackfruit's anti-inflammatory activities may help prevent its complications. 
2. Prevents diabetes-related skin conditions
High glucose levels in the body can lead to severe complications, including skin manifestations such as dry skin, itchy skin, skin infections, skin rashes and diabetic foot. Jackfruit is a good source of vitamin C, a vital antioxidant that may help protect against various skin damages, along with promoting the production of collagen, strengthening the skin and helping in wound filling. Avoid consuming ripe jackfruit as the extra sugar in it can aggravate skin problems. 
3. May benefit women with gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes (GD) can affect the development of the foetus and may cause mothers to develop neuropathy, nephropathy or other diabetes complications at later stages. Though drugs are the primary treatment methods for GD, non-pharmacological treatment methods may include the consumption of raw jackfruit leaves or seeds due to their anti-diabetic effects. They may help lower blood glucose in the blood and help fight the condition to some extent. 
Photo Credit: Food photo created by wirestock - www.freepik.com
4. Has anti-obesity potential
A study talks about the anti-obesity potential of fermented jackfruit. It says that when fermented jackfruit pulp and leaves were given to Dawley rats for 28 consecutive days orally at a dose of 4000 mg/kg, a reduction in their body weight was observed, thus indicating the anti-obesity potential of the fruit in its fermented form.  Some studies also say that the anti-inflammatory activity of jackfruit can help reduce obesity-related inflammation that may progress to diabetes.
5. Has antioxidant effects
Jackfruit has antioxidant effects; however, a study has shown that the seeds of jackfruit have high phenolic content and antioxidant activity than its edible portion or pulp. This activity may help reduce free radicals in the body and prevent damage to pancreatic beta cells which helps in the production of insulin for better glucose management. One can include the jackfruit seeds in vegetables or dry and convert them into powder form and use in soups or stews to lower glucose levels. 
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6. Better than rice or wheat flour
A study talks about the glucose-control effect of raw jackfruit flour compared to rice and wheat flour. It says that when the prior is given to type 2 diabetes patients at a dose of 30 g/day for three weeks, by replacing the wheat and rice flour, a higher reduction in the mean blood glucose, after-meal glucose and body weight was observed. This effect was mainly due to the presence of pectin or fibre in jackfruit. Green jackfruit flour can be included in the daily diet for diabetics. 
Downsides Of Jackfruit For Diabetics
Both ripe and unripe jackfruit have vital vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which could help diabetics in many ways. However, experts say that jackfruit should be consumed in moderation by diabetics. This is because:
- Raw jackfruit has potent glucose-lowering effects. If consumed in high amounts, it may cause sugar levels to reduce to an extreme, especially if consumed with some anti-diabetic medications and may cause hypoglycemia.
- As jackfruit ripes, the sugar levels and starch in the fruit tend to increase, which may lead to diabetes complications if consumed in higher amounts.
- Jackfruit has a moderate glycemic index - if consumed in higher amounts, it may spike sugar levels instead of lowering it.
Jackfruit could be included in the diabetes diet in moderation. One can use the veggie as a meat substitute and reap its benefits. Remember, it is always good to consult a medical expert or a dietician before including any food in your diabetes diet.
Yes, in moderation, jackfruit can be good for diabetic patients. Raw jackfruit or raw jackfruit flour can help lower blood glucose levels to a great extent and help in diabetes management. Avoid ripe jackfruit as the high sugar in it may increase glucose levels instead of lowering and cause complications if consumed in higher amounts.
Yes, jackfruit can lower blood sugar, especially raw jackfruit, jackfruit seeds and green jackfruit flour. All these have higher glucose-lowering activities and may help reduce sugar levels, reduce post-meal glucose hikes and even body weight, thus benefiting those with diabetes or prediabetics.
Raw jackfruit contains lower sugar and starch compared to ripe jackfruit. Also, the sugar in this exotic food tends to rise with its ripeness. Though both ripe and unripe jackfruit has essential vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, for some people with medical conditions like diabetes, the ripe jackfruit is not suggested due to its high sugar content.
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