Breadfruit is a species of flowering tree grown widely in the tropical regions, that belongs to the family of Moraceae and genus Artocarpus. It is closely related to other tropical fruits such as jackfruit, breadnut, figs and mulberries. The fruit's scientific name Artocarpus altilis is derived from Greek word (artos-bread, karpos- fruit), and altilis means fat. A native fruit of the tropical rain forest regions in New Guinea, the Maluku Islands, the Philippines and the Caribbean Islands. Now it is widely grown throughout South and Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean, Central America and Africa.
Two common varieties of breadfruit are seeded and seedless, that grows to a height of 26m, and the trees are monoecious with male and female flowers bearing on the same tree. It is an indehiscent globose, ovoid to cylindrical shape fruit, that is green while young and turns yellowish-brown when ripe. It has rough to spiny skin which encloses creamy white to pale yellow coloured flesh with a pleasant smell and mildly sweet taste. The texture and smell of the fruit when cooked, is quite similar to freshly baked bread with a potato-like flavour.
A single fruit weighs about 1-5 kg and packed with dense nutrient profile is consumed as a starchy staple food in many tropical regions. As breadfruit yields huge quantities of fruits at certain seasons, the fruits were traditionally preserved in a bury peeled and washed in a leaf-lined pit and left to ferment over weeks that produce a sour, sticky paste. Fermented breadfruit mash is known as mahr, ma, masi, furo and bwiru.
Breadfruit is known by several vernacular names such as Bakri Chajhar in Hindi, Seema Panasa in Telugu, Nirphanas in Marathi, Irppla in Tamil, Kada Chakka in Malayalam, and Gujjekai in Kannada.
Uses Of Breadfruit
Breadfruit is a versatile fruit that can be relished at all stages of development and maturity. Fully mature fruit is most desirable for making several delicacies owing to its potato-like texture. Mature ones are steamed, boiled, fried or baked in a variety of recipes like casseroles, fritters, pancakes, bread, curries, stews and salads to mention a few. It can also be made into healthy dips like hummus or vegetarian pate. Ripe fruits are soft, creamy and sweet that are used to make beverages, baked goods, desserts and other sweet dishes. Additionally, raw ones are sliced, dried and ground into flour, which is gluten-free and serves as an alternative for people with celiac disease.
Breadfruit comes with an extremely impressive nutrient content that delivers a host of medicinal and therapeutic properties. It is high in fibre, proteins including essential amino acids that are valuable in regulating diabetes, lowering cholesterol levels and enhancing skin and hair health. Besides these, it also packed with vitamin C, B1, B5 and minerals potassium and copper help to reinforce immunity and keep infections at bay.
Amplify Cardiac Health
Being intrinsically rich in potassium breadfruit helps to dilate the blood vessels and arteries and control the blood pressure and heart rate. It also conducts electrical charges that regulate muscular contraction in the skeletal system including the heart. Furthermore, being a good source of dietary fibre aids to diminish cholesterol levels and boost good cholesterol (HDL) in the body.
Breadfruit serves as an ideal vegetable in the meal plan of diabetics, as it averts a surge of blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity. The presence of dietary fibre and protein delays the gastric emptying time, keep you satiated, cut down the intake of calories, thereby reducing the rate of glucose absorption and lowers the risk of developing diabetes.
The goodness of fibre in breadfruit helps the body to flush out the toxins from the intestine and regularise bowel movements and functions. It prevents gut-related issues like acidity, ulcer, heartburn, indigestion and gastritis by improving the gut flora and feeds the good bacteria. Moreover, breadfruit also shields the mucus membrane of the colon by thwarting off cancer-causing harmful chemicals.
Augments Skin Health
The wealth of nutrients present in breadfruit gives the skin a glowing and youthful appearance. Bestowed with vitamin C, breadfruit promotes collagen production that enhances skin elasticity, tone and regenerates new skin cells. It also has the potential to impede pro-inflammatory activity of enzymes and reduces the risk of skin inflammation, rashes and infections.
Breadfruit imbued with huge amounts of vitamin C, potent antioxidants battle against infection-causing pathogens and microbes and trigger the body's immune response. It also scavenges the body from the detrimental effects of free radicals and lowers the risk of chronic diseases.