Durian: Benefits, Nutrition, and Risks

Durian: Benefits, Nutrition, and Risks

Durian (Durio Zibethinus Murr.) is a tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia. It’s known as the “king of fruits” in certain countries like Indonesia and Thailand, as it’s nutritionally dense and large in size, with some fruits weighing over 17 pounds (lbs).

Durian has a creamy texture, a sweet yet slightly bitter taste, and a famously pungent odor. The fruit is rich in nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and B vitamins. It’s also an excellent source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds,​​ which may benefit overall health and protect against disease development.

Design by Health

Durian is an excellent source of several nutrients, including fiber. One cup of raw durian provides over 9 grams (g) of fiber, covering 33% of your daily fiber needs.

Fiber supports digestive health by protecting against constipation, supporting a balanced gut environment, and fueling probiotic bacteria that release compounds called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs offer several health benefits, including reducing intestinal inflammation, strengthening the gut lining, and protecting against digestive diseases like colon cancer.

Research has found eating high amounts of dietary fiber—which you can get by eating foods like durian—may also protect against cardiovascular disease.

In addition to being high in fiber, durian provides 13 g of fat, mostly monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats are considered “heart-healthy” as they help regulate cholesterol levels, which can lower the risk of heart disease.

Durian also provides nutrients important for heart health, such as magnesium and potassium, which help facilitate blood pressure control. It’s also a good source of folate, which regulates levels of an amino acid called homocysteine. The body naturally has low amounts of homocysteine. When levels climb too high, it can increase inflammation, atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries), and heart disease risk.

The fiber content in durian may also support weight loss and weight management efforts. Fiber can help you feel fuller for longer after eating, which can help you maintain your optimal body weight.

A study of 345 people found that fiber intake was the most influential predictor of body weight, independent of macronutrient and calorie intake. This means that increasing your intake of fiber-rich foods, like durian, could effectively support weight loss.

Eating foods high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds can boost your overall health and reduce your risk of developing several health conditions.

Durian is very high in vitamin C, which has powerful antioxidant properties and is necessary for immune function. Studies show that vitamin C-rich diets may help protect against several common health conditions, including certain cancers and heart disease.

The fruit is also a concentrated source of protective plant compounds such as flavonoids and carotenoids. These compounds protect your cells from oxidative damage—a driving force behind several diseases, such as heart disease and some cancers.

For example, durian contains several flavonoid compounds, including hesperidin, quercetin, rutin, kaempferol, luteolin, and apigenin. Studies show that people with higher intakes of flavonoids, such as those found in durian, tend to have lower rates of heart disease, cognitive decline, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.

Higher flavonoid intake is also linked to a lower risk of death from all causes, including heart disease-related death.

Research suggests that consuming a diet high in vitamin C may benefit brain health. A study that included 80 older adults found that people with higher blood levels of vitamin C performed better on tasks involving recall, focus, memory, attention, decision-making, and recognition than those with lower vitamin C levels.

Eating durian can help you get more vitamin C as one serving provides over 50% of your daily needs for the nutrient—which could help support your brain health.

Unlike many other fruits, durian is high in calories and fat. It’s also rich in fiber and several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, potassium, folate, B6, and magnesium.

A one-cup serving of raw durian contains:

  • Calories: 357
  • Fat: 13 grams (g)
  • Protein: 3.57 g
  • Carbohydrates: 65.9 g
  • Fiber: 9.23 g
  • Vitamin C: 47.9 milligrams (mg), or 53% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Copper: 0.5 mg, or 56% of the DV
  • B6: 0.76 mg, or 45% of the DV
  • Potassium: 1,060 mg, or 23% of the DV
  • Folate: 87.5 micrograms (mcg), or 22% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 72.9 mg, or 17% of the DV
  • Niacin: 2.6 mg, or 16% of the DV

Durian is higher in calories, fat, fiber, and carbohydrates than most other fruits. One cup of durian provides 9.23 g of fiber, which covers just under 33% of your daily fiber needs. Durian provides both soluble and insoluble fiber, which promotes regular and comfortable bowel movements, fuels the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, and protects heart health by regulating cholesterol levels.

In addition to fiber, durian is high in several vitamins and minerals. A one-cup serving provides over 20% of your daily needs for vitamin C, copper, folate, B6, and potassium, all of which play important roles in health.

For example, B6 is a B vitamin needed for red blood cell production, amino acid metabolism, and neurotransmitter synthesis. Vitamin C has powerful antioxidant properties and is necessary for collagen production and immune function.

Durian also contains magnesium, a mineral essential for healthy blood pressure regulation. Eating foods high in potassium and magnesium is an effective way to support heart health as diets rich in these nutrients have been shown to reduce the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), which is a main risk factor for heart disease.

Durian is safe for most people to consume. However, people following potassium-restricted diets should be aware that it is very high in potassium. A one-cup serving provides 1,060 mg or 23% of the Daily Value for this nutrient.

For instance, people with certain medical conditions, such as advanced kidney disease, must manage their potassium intake. People with kidney disease can’t effectively excrete extra potassium through their kidneys. This can cause potassium to build up in the blood, which can be dangerous and even life-threatening in certain situations.

According to one case study, an older woman with a kidney injury developed hyperkalemia (high blood potassium levels) after consuming large amounts of durian for several days.

Consuming high-potassium foods like durian is unlikely to harm people with normal kidney function.

Durian is rich in fiber, which may cause digestive side effects such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea in people who aren’t used to fiber-rich foods. If your diet is low in fiber, you can introduce durian and other high-fiber foods in small amounts to let your body adapt to a higher fiber intake and then increase your consumption slowly.

Lastly, durian is very high in carbohydrates. One cup contains over four servings of carbs. If you’re following a low-carb diet, you’ll need to avoid high-carb foods, like durian, or enjoy them in small amounts.

If you’re shopping for durian in the United States, don’t expect to find this unique fruit in your local supermarket. You may have to visit specialty stores, such as high-end grocers like Whole Foods or Asian grocery stores, to track down durian. You can also purchase the fruit online.

Once you get a durian fruit, take care when extracting the fruit from the spiky rind. You may want to wear gloves when handling durian to protect your skin from the fruit’s spikes and pungent odor, often described as resembling rotten onions or sulfur.

Here’s how to properly prepare durian:

  1. Holding the durian firmly on its side with one hand, use a sharp knife to slice through the rind lengthwise, making a 3-4 inch cut.
  2. Using your hands, pull the rest of the durian skin back, splitting the fruit in two and exposing the inner sections.
  3. Using a spoon, scoop out the inner segments of the fruit.
  4. Remove the seeds inside the fruit segments before consuming.

Durian is usually enjoyed raw but can be added to dishes like sticky rice and baked goods.

Its creamy texture and tropically sweet taste make it a popular ingredient in desserts, such as ice-cream, smoothies, and cakes.

Durian is a unique tropical fruit with a sweet taste, creamy texture, and powerful aroma. It’s packed with nutrients like fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and folate and is rich in protective plant compounds that may benefit overall health in several ways.

Eating durian may help support digestive health, heart health, weight management, and more. People with kidney disease following a low-potassium diet should avoid durian as the fruit is very high in potassium. People following a low-carb diet may also want to avoid or limit the fruit as it’s very high in carbohydrates.

You can enjoy durian raw or add this tasty fruit to dishes like sticky rice, homemade ice-cream, and baked goods.

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