Step aside, tofu, tempeh, and seitan. There’s a new meatless-meal staple that’s making our mouths water.

Jackfruit is a high grade anti-oxidant owing to dense concentration of vitamin C. It strengthens immune function and protects from could, cold, flu, infections and critical conditions like Cancer and tumours.

Jackfruit is a powerhouse of energy. It can lend a quick boost of energy without disturbing the sugar levels in the body significantly.

Potassium controls sodium, maintains the  electrolyte balance along with regulating muscle function. All these roles make potassium a very healthy food for arresting high blood pressure and maintaining health of your heart.

The high fiber content in Jackfruit aids healthy digestion and an effective excretion which keeps the gastrointestinal tract clean and healthy.

Jackfruit contains dietary fiber that reduces the effects of toxin in the colon and protect from colon cancer. Additionally its constipation preventing properties prevent piles.

Jackfruit is a rich source Vitamin A and its equivalents that protect eyes from infections, improve eye sight and prevent vision related medical problems .

The anti-oxidant properties and high water content of Jackfruit keeps skin healthy, moisturized and reduces the wrinkles and dryness retaining the youthful texture of the skin.

The Jackfruit root has been found to be an effective remedy for asthma symptoms.

Jackfruit maintains good bone health with high calcium content and increases its density by reducing the calcium loss owing to healthy potassium content.

Jackfruit alleviates anemia by adding iron and increasing the iron absorption with Vitamin C  in the body. Other minerals in it improve the quality of blood.

Jackfruit comes from the mulberry family. It has thorny projections outside and soft flesh inside which is  intensely sweet and delicious in taste. It is typically found in South East Asia and finds its origins in India. Thailand and Vietnam are the largest producers and exporters of this fruit. Jackfruit is found in many varieties across countries and continents and is classified based on the softness of its flesh.

Jackfruit’s flesh is very high in fiber content. The taste and texture makes it a great fruit for jams, chutneys, candies, cakes and other sweet preparations.  Unripe raw jackfruit is used in savoury dishes and is cooked in gravies and spicy curries. The texture of unripe jackfruit is like mutton and so is its taste when cooked in spices which makes it popular amongst vegans and non-vegans alike. The seeds of Jackfruit are also eaten in boiled form as a snack in some countries.

It is a healthy fruit with almost no fats but high energy. The taste and preparations make it a delectable fruit which is easy to include in the meal plan. Unfortunately many countries get only canned jackfruit stored in sugar syrup or brine which is not as healthy as out-of-tree fruit. But this fact should not keep you from eating and enjoying this gorgeous fruit even if it is out of the can.

Scientific name: Artocarpus heterophyllus

Nutritional Value of Jackfruit:

It contains high amount of nutrient like vitamin, minerals, electrolytes, phytonutrients, carbohydrate, fiber, fat and protein.  Jackfruit is a good source of calorie but contains no cholesterol or saturated fats.

Jackfruit is rich in vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B5 content in Jackfruit fulfills about 25% of our daily requirement. Apart from Vitamin B5 Jackfruit is also a rich source of  Vitamin C, Magnesium and Potassium. The fat content of Jackfruit is very low at just about 0.64 grams. Though water is not a nutrient but it is pertinent to mention that Jackfruit is made up 80% water.

Health Benefits of Jackfruit:

Jackfruit contains high amount of carbohydrate and calorie that provides energy instantly. It is rich in antioxidants which protect from cancer, ageing and degenerative disease. Due to rich antioxidants it is good for eye sight and protects from conditions like cataract and macular degeneration. It is a good source of potassium which maintains fluid and electrolyte level in balance. Also it improves bone and skin health.

1. Optimizes Immune function:

Anti-oxidants are required by the body for scavenging free radicals. These are produced when oxygen reacts with certain molecules and kick starts a chain reaction which damages cell membranes and even DNA.

These free radicals have been associated with natural processes like ageing, skin wrinkling,  increased vulnerability to infections and diseases and more serious conditions like cancer and tumours. Vitamin C is a natural anti-oxidant but since it is water soluble and is not found in our bodies, you need to consume it through dietary sources.

Jackfruit is an excellent source of Vitamin C with a high content of 13.8 mg per 100 grams. Studies have shown that vitamin C  is a better anti-oxidant than compounds like Methanol and Ethanol. This makes vitamin C very effective against the free radicals in the body. The purification of our body by ridding it of free radicals  increases immune system function. It increases immunity to protect against common diseases like cough, cold and flu. It has also been found to form a strong resistance against infections.

2. High Energy Source:

If you are looking at quick energy boost than very few fruits come close to Jackfruit. Jackfruit contains high amount of carbohydrate and calorie but hardly any companion fat. It contains a healthy amount of simple sugar like fructose and sucrose that are easily digested by our bodies. The sugar in Jackfruit is  not only easy to digest but also comes from a category called “Slowly Available glucose” or SAG. This releases the glucose in our body in a restrained manner and therefore reduces the glycemic index of Jackfruit.

In simple words, diabetic people suffering from high sugar levels and sugar spikes can enjoy this deliciously sweet fruit without worrying about the glucose levels. However, if Jackfruit is regular part of your diet than make sure you add some physical activity to your routine to aid the digestion.

3. Maintains Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular health:

Potassium is one of the most important components that regulate blood pressure. Our body needs about 4700 milligrams of Potassium in a day. Optimum balance of potassium is key to controlling the right amount of sodium in our body. Potassium deficiency can make your sodium levels spiral out of control leading to substantial damage to heart and the arteries. Apart from this functionality, potassium is responsible for coordinating and maintaining muscle function which includes heart muscles as well.

Jackfruit contains good amount of potassium which is about 10% of our daily requirement. The ideal levels of  potassium is required to maintain fluid level i.e. to balance electrolyte also. All these different functions of potassium helps in maintaining ideal blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack.

4. Improves Digestion:

When you open up a Jackfruit and take a look at its flesh, it clearly shows a lot of soft fiber. This fiber is not just for show but actually does convert itself into important and significant amount of roughage. Jackfruit has 1.5 grams of roughage per 100 grams of serving which is considered excellent. Dietary fiber  makes for a laxative which adds bulk to your stools and soften them up. Both of these factors make it easy for your body to push them through the Anal passage. Thus it improves digestion and prevents constipation.

Jackfruit contains both soluble and insoluble fiber with soluble content of 25% of the total fiber. Soluble fiber is the one which is digested in our body and provides energy whereas insoluble just passes through the Gastrointestinal tract. The insoluble fiber actually adds bulk to stools and make for an expeditious exit. It keeps the tracts clean and reduce a build up in the intestines.

5. Colon Cancer and Piles:

Colon cancer is caused when there is damage to colon at cellular level and these altered cells continue to divide rapidly even when there is no requirement of new cells. Eventually they destroy the normal cells and also tend to travel to other parts of the body through blood stream. Colon cancer appears in its early stages as polyps in the colon lining and take a full blown cancerous form as it progresses.

Fruits like Jackfruit that are high on anti-oxidants help to clean toxins from the colon, keeping it in a good and healthy shape. Though it does not treat the cancer itself  but can definitely help in reducing the risk of developing this condition.

It also helps in alleviating and preventing piles. Piles are Haemorrhoids in the anal area and are basically made of  swollen blood vessels. It is a very painful condition and critical cases experience bleeding and excruciating pain while passing stools. One of the main causes of Piles is Chronic Constipation. Jackfruit prevents constipation due to its high fiber content and can help alleviating the symptoms.

6. Vitamin A for Vision:

Jackfruit contains Vitamin A and its equivalent in form of Beta Carotene and Lutein Zeaxanthin. Beta Carotene gets synthesized and converts itself into Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an important nutrient  for eye health. It is an anti-oxidant that improves the vision and protects the eye from free radicals. It is also known to protect eyes from bacterial and viral infections by strengthening the mucous membranes that create a film on the cornea .

Lutein Zeaxanthin in Jackfruit is also known for its anti-oxidant properties that serve your eye sight effectively and impressively. It protects the eyes from intense and harmful  light waves like ultraviolet rays. This component is also considered monumental in improving your eye sight in dim lit and low light arenas. It is highly effective in preventing degeneration of the retina and reduce the risk of cataract and macular degeneration.

7. Skin Health and Ageing:

Ageing is caused due to natural factors like increase in age. But due to pollution, UV radiations and unhealthy lifestyle ageing is knocking at an early age and  is progressing faster than natural. The main causes of ageing are free radicals produced in our body due to high oxidative stress caused due to pollution.  Antioxidant rich diet including fruits like Jackfruit have proven to destroy these free radicals to slow the ageing process.

Eating Jackfruit also keeps skin moisturized and well hydrated due to high level of water content in it. Water reduces dryness and lend a supple appearance to your facial skin. This further reduces the light wrinkles and fine lines on skin making it look younger and glowing.

8. Asthma:

With an increase in pollution and weakened immunity, number of asthma cases being reported are increasing every year. Jackfruit has been proved beneficial to asthma patients. Asthma shows symptoms like extreme difficulty in breathing, wheezing and accompanying panic attacks. Like all COPD diseases, asthma needs to be managed and can be reversed.

Jackfruit and its extracts are now being explored to treat asthma and controlling its symptoms. Boiling the root of Jackfruit and consuming it is known to alleviate the symptoms of asthma.

9. Bone Health:

Jackfruit contains high amount of calcium which strengthens and promotes healthy bone health. Other bone related illnesses like Arthritis, Osteoporosis can also be managed and prevented with regular seasonal consumption of Jackfruit. High potassium in Jackfruit further decreases the loss of calcium through kidney thereby increasing calcium density in bone and strengthening it.

10. Anemia:

Anemia is a condition which is defined by reduction of red blood cells (RBC) or Haemoglobin in blood below the acceptable  minimum levels. This leads slow transportation of oxygen in the body leading to bouts of lethargy, constant tiredness, pale complexion and in some cases blacking out.

Jackfruit contains iron which can combat the deficiency of RBCs in the blood. The vitamin C content further enables an effective absorption of iron in the body. It is said that all iron that you get from dietary sources can pass right through your body without being absorbed if there is no Vitamin C in the body. Other minerals like copper and magnesium in Jackfruit improve the quality of blood.

Unless you’ve spent time scouring Indian rain forests or haunting the aisles of Asian markets, you may not have heard of jackfruit. This large, tropical superfruit is causing excitement in vegan and nonvegan circles, mostly because of its consistency and flavour once it’s been cooked. If coaxed with the right flavours, especially barbecue and Asian sauces, jackfruit mimics the taste and consistency of pulled pork or carne asada – if that’s your “thing”. Jackfruit is also all natural. You can find jackfruit in just about any Asian market, but the key is to buy canned, green unripe jackfruit in water, not in brine, and without preservatives. Ripe jackfruit has a different taste altogether, much like chewing gum, and is far too sweet for cooking. To prepare, cook it a bit, then douse in your favourite sauce before cooking a little longer. Since jackfruit takes on the flavour of whatever it’s cooked with, you can use just about any sauce, but those with a hint of sugar are best for a crispy, golden brown finish.

Amazing facts about Jackfruit:

Jackfruit is the largest tree borne fruit in the world which can weight from a mere 3 kilograms to 36 Kilograms! A full mature jackfruit can have a length of 92 cm and width that extends to 51 cm.

The wood of Jackfruit is used in making musical instruments, furniture and even in house construction. the distinct colour of Monks’ robes in South East Asia comes from the dye of this wood.

Jackfruit is also known to grow from the underground roots in some rare cases! In such situations the fruit actually cracks the ground over it and emerges outside.

Jackfruit is a wonderful fruit with wonderful health benefits. Its juicy sweet taste becomes even better when you know about the health benefits that you are going to derive from it.

Thank you for reading! Stay healthy, keep fit, and love being vegan!

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What are probiotics – why are they good for us?

Probiotics are a microorganism introduced into the body for its beneficial qualities.They are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for health, especially our digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But our body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy. They are naturally found in your body, but can also be found in some healthy vegan foods.

How Do They Work?

  • When we lose “good” bacteria in our body, probiotics will help replace them.
  • They lower the amount of “bad” bacteria in our system that causes infections or other problems.
  • They help balance our “good” and “bad” bacteria to keep our body working like it should.

What Do They Do?

Probiotics help move food through our gut. Researchers are still trying to figure out which are best for certain health problems. Some common conditions they treat are:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites)
  • Antibiotic-related diarrhea

There is also some research to show they ease the symptoms of non-stomach-related problems. For example, some people say they have helped with:

  • Skin conditions, like eczema
  • Urinary and vaginal health
  • Preventing allergies and colds
  • Oral health

Benefits of probiotics for re-establishing and maintaining gut integrity and optimal health. What is the purpose of probiotics, who should consume them and for how long, and are they vegan?

Who and for how long?

Unless you’ve never been on a dose of antibiotics in your life, never eaten an animal product injected with steroids, hormones or antibiotics, never travel and are able to shield your body from environmental toxins via air, water and food – then you can stand to benefit from daily probiotic consumption.

Benefits of probiotics:

Our bodies require a healthy dose of good bacteria in order to maintain wellness. Meanwhile probiotics perform many daily functions:

  • break down and digest food
  • produce vitamins
  • suppress other microbes that threaten to take over, such as yeast
  • replenish good bacteria destroyed by antibiotics and environmental insults
  • manage diarrhea and urinary tract infections
  • potentially alleviate medical conditions such as: ◦Irritable bowel syndrome

◦Diarrhea, especially when associated with antibiotic use

◦Ulcers

◦Colitis

◦Chronic yeast infections

◦Autoimmune Illnesses

  • display minimal side effects, mainly gas initially as gut integrity is re-established

Enjoy natural vegan probiotics – fermented plant foods (cultured vegetables, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, coconut kefir, kimchi, kombucha, etc…). But always keep in mind that these foods may or may not have been cultured with lactobacillus which from an ethical standpoint you want to avoid.

Fermented foods are cheaper than supplements, tastier, and usually more effective. Adding these delights to our daily intake is quite feasible and in many ways preferred, but it will require additional education, planning and incorporation of new foods. Making our own fermented foods is cost effective, tasty, and usually more effective, and at least we know exactly what goes into them. Start with the easy ones to make like sauerkraut – obtainable to have a bottle of that in our fridge always.

The casein protein:

Unlike lactobacillus, casein is a mammalian milk protein that is non-vegan. In many cases, casein invokes a severe food allergen – avoid.

What to look out for in a “vegan” probiotic:

  • Read “vegan” labels – make sure you can view all the ingredients prior to purchasing online
  • Magnesium Stearate – look for “vegetable magnesium stearate” instead
  • Casein = milk protein
  • Capsules made with gelatin = horse, cow, sheep hoof remnants
  • Honey, Bee Pollon, Royal Jelly, Propolis, Beeswax = bee related
  • Lac Resin/Shellac = bug juice, think M&M’s coating
  • Cholecalciferol = animal version of vitamin D
  • Vitamin A – from fish or animal livers

Vegan Options:

Overall my recommendation for anyone, especially the true vegan (avoiding lactobacillus), is to consume probiotics from cultured and fermented foods. This is a delectable option because it provides nourishment while enjoying the probiotic benefits within real, whole vegan foods rich in water, fiber, nutrients and phytochemicals!

The great news is that there are plenty of convenient options for getting started such as a daily dose of fermented veggies (cultured veggies, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles) soy products (1-2 servings of soy or coconut based yogurt, tempeh, miso) or beverages (like Kombucha and Kevita).

In fact, learning the art of fermenting vegetables in your own kitchen may be that next challenge you’ve been seeking as a veteran vegan looking to take your health to the next level!

What is kombucha:

Because it’s naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria and yeast, Kombucha is a probiotic beverage. This has a myriad of benefits such as improved digestion, fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability.

What is kimchi:

Spicy pickled cabbage

What is tempeh:

Tempeh is a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegan burger patty.

What is miso:

This is a paste made from fermented soybeans and barley or rice malt, used in Japanese cooking.

What is Kevita:

Is a beverage handcrafted from four strains of live probiotic. Flavors include Coconut, Mango Coconut and Pomegranate. KeVita is certified organic, non-dairy, non-GMO, gluten free and vegan.

What is Coconut kefir:

is a beverage that’s becoming more and more popular due to its incredible health benefits, for everything such as boosting immunity to fighting off harmful yeasts and bacteria. While kombucha brought back the hip factor to the world of fermented foods, coconut kefir is taking the reigns pretty quickly.

So there ya have it – take full advantage of another mega wonder of nature. Stay healthy, keep fit, be happy, always vegan.

Does dairy cause acne – how do I cure acne?

Yes it is confirmed – dairy does cause acne. The billions of cows that we kill for dairy, unintentionally returning the gesture.

As our dairy consumption has increased over the last 100 years so has the number of people with acne. We now have over 17 million acne sufferers in the U.S alone, costing health care in the States over $1 billion a year. Eighty to ninety percent of teenagers suffer acne to varying degrees. But this is not just prevalent in teens, millions of adults are suffering too

The pimply millions rely on infomercial products hawked by celebrities or over-the-counter lotions, cleansers, and topical remedies. Recent research suggests that it’s not what we slather on our skin that matters most but what we put in our mouth.

Many have suggested a diet-acne link, but until recently it has not been proven in large clinical studies. Instead dermatologists prescribe long-term antibiotics and Accutane, both of which may cause long-term harmful effects. In 2009, a systematic review of 21 observational studies and six clinical trials found clear links. Two large controlled trials found that cow’s milk increased both the number of people who got acne and its severity.

The dietary pimple producing culprit – diary, cause spikes in certain pimple producing hormones. Dairy boosts male sex hormones (various forms of testosterone or androgens), increases insulin levels. One does not need pills to cure acne, the cure is at the end of ones fork.

Nutritional deficiencies as well as consuming dairy worsens acne. Correcting common deficiencies including low levels of healthy omega-3 anti-inflammatory fats, low levels of antioxidants such as vitamin E, zinc, and vitamin A, and including an important anti-inflammatory omega-6 fat called evening primrose oil are helpful in preventing and treating unwanted acne. One can correct and incorporate all of these nutritional elements of ones meal plan through a well balanced healthy vegan diet.

Stay away from dairy and avoid acne:

One scientist referred to milk as a “complex aqueous, suspended fat, liposomal, suspended protein emulsion”. What we do know is that milk is designed to grow ‘things’ – namely, babies – and in the case of cow’s milk, calves. It is naturally full of what we call anabolic hormones.

These are mostly androgens (like testosterone) and growth hormones including insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). There is no such thing as hormone-free milk.

Here’s a short list of the 60-some hormones in an average glass of milk – even the organic, raw, and bovine growth hormone free milk:

  • 20α-dihydropregnenolone
  • progesterone (from pregnenolone)
  • 5α-pregnanedione
  • 5α-pregnan-3β-ol-20-one, 20α- and 20β-dihydroprogesterone (from progesterone)
  • 5α-androstene-3β17β-diol
  • 5α-androstanedione
  • 5α-androstan-3β-ol-17-one
  • androstenedione
  • testosterone
  • dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate acyl ester
  • insulin like growth factors 1 and 2 (IGF-1 and IGF-2)
  • insulin

This is what our governments suggest we drink —at least 3 glasses a day according to the mypyramid.gov website. Those guidelines have been strongly criticized by many including leading nutrition scientists from Harvard such as Walter Willett and David Ludwig.

The famous Nurse’s Health Study examining health habits of 47,000 nurses found that those who ate dairy as teenagers had much higher rates of severe acne than those who had little or no milk as teenagers. If you think it is the fat in milk, think again.

It was actually the skim milk that had the strongest risk for acne. In other studies of over 10,000 boys and girls from 9 to 15 years old, there was a direct link between the amount of dairy consumed and the severity of acne.

It is not just the anabolic or sex hormones in milk that causes problems but milk’s ability to stimulate insulin production. Drinking a glass of milk and eating dairy spikes insulin levels by 300 percent. Not only does that cause pimples, but it also contribute to prediabetes. This is true despite studies funded by the dairy council showing that milk helps with weight loss.

Recent studies also show that sugar and refined carbs (a high-glycemic diet) cause acne. More importantly, taking sufferes off dairy and sugar and putting them on a healthy vegan diet resulted in significant improvements in acne compared to a control group eating a regular, high-sugar nonvegan diet. In addition to less pimples, the participants lost weight, became more sensitive to the effects of insulin (resulting in less pimple-producing insulin circulating around the blood). We know that women who have too much sugar and insulin resistance get acne, hair growth on their face, hair loss on the head, and infertility. This is caused by high levels of circulating male hormones and is called polycystic ovarian syndrome but is a nutritional, not gynecologic disease.

But the dietary influences don’t stop there. It is not just dairy and sugar, but the bad fats that we eat that also contribute to acne.

So consider getting an Oil Change:

Non vegan diets is full of inflammatory fats – saturated fats, trans fats, too many omega-6, inflammatory, processed vegetable oils like soy and corn oils. These increase IGF-1 and stimulate pimple follicles. Inflammation has been linked to acne, and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats help improve acne and help with many skin disorders.

Balance the hormones that cause skin problems:

The link is clear – hormonal imbalances caused by ones diet triggers acne. What we put into our mouth influences sex hormones like testosterone, IGF-1, and insulin, which promote acne. The biggest factors affecting hormones is the glycemic load in diets (which is determined by how quickly the food that one eats increases blood sugar and insulin levels), and the dairy products one eats. The great news is that going vegan balances those hormones. Exercise also helps improve insulin function.

How to prevent and treat acne:

1.Stay away from dairy. Milk is nature’s perfect food – but only if you are a calf.

2.Eat natural sugars such as those from fruits.

3.Up fruit and vegetable intake. People who eat more fruit and veg (containing more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds) have less acne. Make sure to get  5–9 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables every day.

4.Get more healthy anti-inflammatory fats. Make sure to get omega-3 fats and anti-inflammatory omega-6 fats (evening primrose oil).

5.Include foods that correct acne problems. Certain foods have been linked to improvements in many of the underlying causes of acne and can help correct it. These include turmeric, ginger, green tea, nuts, dark purple and red foods such as berries, green foods like dark green leafy vegetables, and omega 3.

6.Antioxidant levels have been shown to be low in acne sufferers. So up antioxidants, also up zinc citrate, as well as vitamin A.

7.Probiotics also help reduce inflammation in the gut that may be linked to acne. Taking naturally fremented probiotics can improve acne – kombucha etc.

8.Avoid foods you are sensitive to. Delayed food allergies are among the most common causes of acne—foods like gluten, dairy, yeast, and eggs are common culprits and can be a problem if you have a leaky gut. More people are sensitive to these culprits but just don’t know it as yet. More than 75% of the world population is actually allergic to dairy and it shows up in more ways than one.

Following these simple tips will help you eliminate acne and have that glowing skin you have always dreamed of. And it’s much cheaper (and safer) than expensive medications and dermatologist visits. Go vegan – watch pimples disappear.

Have you struggled with an acne or skin problem? What seems to be a problem for you?

Why do you think we are encouraged to consume so much dairy when the risks to our health (and our skin) are so high?

What other steps have you taken to fight acne? What has worked? What hasn’t? Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below –

To your good health – vegan love.