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Breadfruit or Artocarpus altilis grows on a species of a flowering tree of the Moraceae or Mulberry family. The plant was first domesticated in Oceania and went on to become the staple crop of the area . Breadfruit crops now grow throughout parts of South-east Asia, Indo-Pacific, Caribbean, Africa, and the list extends to over 80 countries. The breadfruit crop has been traditionally grown for purposes as varied as medicine, food for humans and animals, for construction of canoes and homes, and as insect repellents   .
The outer part of a breadfruit is usually green. As the fruit ripens, the flesh of the breadfruit becomes soft and yellow or cream coloured with a nice fragrance and sweet taste. The flesh looks more or less like bread. Breadfruit is actually a fruit, even though people often consider it a vegetable because of the fact that it is cooked and consumed. It makes for a tasty as well as healthy meal and can be baked, steamed, fried, roasted or boiled while using it for culinary purposes .
The best part about the breadfruit is that it is comparatively easy to grow - as in it can be grown sustainably with minimal agricultural inputs and can be multi-cropped . Combine this fact with its nutritional value, and we get a plant potent enough to alleviate hunger in many areas as well. This is another reason why breadfruit is a staple food in many tropical areas.
Benefits Of Breadfruit
1. Regulates blood pressure
Breadfruit has been known to control hypertension and regulate blood pressure. It is mainly the leaves of breadfruit which have this property and have been traditionally used for the same   . In addition to that, 100 g of the flesh of breadfruit contains 490 mg of potassium and only 2 mg of sodium, i.e., it has a low sodium to potassium ratio . Not only is increased intake of potassium known to reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension, but a low sodium to potassium ratio is also conducive to the regulation of hypertension in adults as well as premature hypertension in kids   .
2. Aids weight loss
Dietary fibre is one component that makes a huge difference in the way we eat and the way we gain or lose weight. Foods like breadfruit high in dietary fibre content have been proven to help people lose and regulate weight. This is because fibre adds bulk to the food and therefore makes us feel full and satiated after eating smaller portions of meals  . Moreover, breadfruit is low-fat, low-calorie and has more protein content which helps in muscle growth and not fat-deposit.
3. Curbs the action of cancer cells
Three separate scientific studies have indicated the potential use of parts of the breadfruit plant in the treatment of different types of cancers. This is because of the phytochemicals present in the breadfruit, which curb the action of the cancer cells. The studies recommend that breadfruit is consumed in generous amounts on a regular basis in order to achieve this result    .
4. Boosts energy
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, eating 100 g of breadfruit provides our body with 103kcal of energy (if the breadfruit is unseeded/raw) or 207 kcal of energy (if the breadfruit is seeded/roasted). The 27.12 g of carbohydrates, 4.9 g of dietary fibre, the 11 g of sugar, and other compounds like riboflavin present in the breadfruit work together to provide calories and make it an excellent source of energy   .
5. Cures dandruff and controls hair thinning
Breadfruit is rich in vitamins and minerals along with generous amounts omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which have scientifically been proven to assist hair growth and improve its strength. In a study conducted by French scientists, the impact of the two fatty acids was tested and confirmed. It was found that supplementing the body with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids along with antioxidants for a period of 6 months significantly brought down the hair loss and increased hair density .
Omega 3 fatty acids have also been linked with reducing flaking and dandruff. The best part is that these fatty acids do not make you gain weight unlike other supplements. They naturally moisturise the skin to cure dandruff, thereby also preventing the hair from breaking  .
6. Promotes heart health
Traditionally as well as in contemporary times, breadfruit has been used for keeping the heart healthy . This can especially be attributed to the fact that it has large amounts potassium, dietary fibre and other heart-healthy compounds which carry out different functions in the body to altogether maintain a healthier cardio-vascular system .
Consuming breadfruit also reduces cholesterol and hypertension as already been mentioned in the article. Moreover, the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids present in the breadfruit make it a prime choice among most healthy foods.
7. Decreases oxidative stress
When there is an imbalance between the body's production of free radicals and the body's ability to counter these free radicals through the action of antioxidants, it causes oxidative stress . This could also lead to more serious conditions if not brought under control on time. Artocarpus altilis or breadfruit, according to a scientific study , helps in improving the antioxidative power of the body, thereby helping in eliminating and controlling oxidative stress.
8. Promotes healthy skin
Breadfruit sure has a lot of benefits to offer our body, and it doesn't leave out the skin. As discussed previously, breadfruit is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which play an important role in keeping our skin and hair healthy. Moreover, breadfruit also contains vitamin C which is again considered essential for healthy skin. The antioxidants present in breadfruit not just help in controlling oxidative stress, but they also help in preventing skin infections.
9. Helps to deal with insomnia
100 g of breadfruit contains 25 mg of magnesium  , an element which has been known to play to a role in effecting the duration and quality of sleep in human beings. Apart from that, it also reduces stress, which in turn helps in improving the quality of sleeping, thereby helping with insomnia. Magnesium maintains the level of GABA in the body. GABA is an essential neurotransmitter connected to sleep . Therefore, consuming breadfruit can be helpful in keeping away sleep disorders like Insomnia.
10. Improves brain function
The brain being the most significant and vital organ of the body, its proper functioning is of optimum importance. There are different vitamins, minerals and compounds the body requires in order to ensure the proper functioning of the brain. Breadfruit contains different nutrients like potassium (one of the most essential nutrients for brain function as well as overall health of the body), folate (reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease  ), and other vitamins and minerals which are directly and indirectly related to the proper functioning of the brain.
As breadfruit contains a considerable amount of dietary fibre  , it helps in smoothening the digestive process. Dietary fibre also has the ability to stimulate peristaltic motion and secretion of gastric juices which help in swallowing and breaking down the food particles in the gut easily. The fact that it prevents constipation is a sign that it is effective in preventing colorectal cancer.
12. Promotes dental health
Traditionally, breadfruit has been used to cure toothaches. But it is not the fruit itself which is used for this purpose, but it is the flower of the plant that helps. Tasted flowers of the breadfruit plant are applied on the gums around the affected tooth in order to achieve the result   . Moreover, breadfruit also contains Calcium (17mg per 100 grams) which plays an important role in overall dental health  .
13. Controls diabetes
Breadfruit has also been known to help with Diabetes mellitus, or more specifically, Type 2 Diabetes    . Various scientific studies have confirmed this property of the plant. Its ability to control Diabetes is attributed to multiple reasons, one of which is that it has a low glycemic index  . Apart from lowering the glucose levels in the body, it has also been known to increase glucose tolerance, thereby helping in controlling diabetes  .
Is Breadfruit Safe For Pregnancy?
Even though breadfruit is a great choice of food to maintain health, consuming it during pregnancy is not advised. This is because pregnancy is a time when the body undergoes multiple changes. Breadfruit may not cause problems during pregnancy, although there isn't enough scientific evidence to confirm the same. Since it is better to be safe than sorry, expecting mothers should not include breadfruit in their diet.
Nutritional Value Of Breadfruit
100 grams of breadfruit contain 70.65 g of water and give 103 kcal of energy. Breadfruit also contain
1.07 g of protein
0.23 g of total lipid
27.12 g of carbohydrate
4.9 g of total dietary fibre
11 g of sugar
17 mg of calcium
25 mg of magnesium
30 mg of phosphorus
490 mg of potassium
2 mg of sodium
29.0 mg of vitamin C
14 mcg of folate
0.10 mg of vitamin E
How To Find And Cook Breadfruit?
Breadfruit comes in different forms - ripe as well as unripe. The ripe fruit usually has soft yellow or cream coloured fleshy insides and has a nice fragrance to it. The unripe variety is usually green and firm. Another way to distinguish between the ripe and unripe varieties is to look for small latex globules which are present on the surface of the ripe breadfruits. In any case, the fruit should be consumed within a day of purchase, even if you refrigerate it  .
There is no single way of cooking breadfruit - it can be boiled, steamed, roasted, fried or baked. It can also be used to make sweets like candies and puddings  .
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