Jackfruit is a unique fruit that’s native to South India but growing in popularity worldwide as a meat substitute.

It’s a large fruit — regularly growing up to 44 pounds (20 kg) — with rough green skin and yellow flesh. The flesh is mildly sweet and has the texture of shredded meat, which is why it’s commonly used as a meat alternative among vegetarians and vegans (1).

However, jackfruit affects your blood sugar levels, so people with diabetes should be informed about it before adding it to their diet.

This article reviews jackfruit’s nutritional content, how it affects blood sugar levels, and whether it’s a good choice for people with diabetes.

Jackfruit nutrition

Jackfruit is a rich source of vitamins and antioxidants but also packs a large amount of natural sugar.

One cup (150 grams) of jackfruit pieces contains the following (2):

  • Calories: 143
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Carbs: 35 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin B6: 29% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin C: 23% of the DV

Jackfruit is an excellent source of vitamin B6 and the antioxidant vitamin C.

These nutrients play vital roles in energy production and immunity and can help prevent chronic inflammation, which can lead to conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes (3, 4).

In terms of macronutrients, jackfruit comprises mostly carbs. These carbs are in the form of natural sugars, which raise your blood sugar levels.

Still, other nutrients and compounds in jackfruit may affect your blood sugar levels more positively.

Summary

Jackfruit contains natural sugars, which raise your blood sugar levels. However, it also contains some protein and fiber.

May help manage blood sugar levels

Jackfruit has a medium glycemic index (GI) of about 50–60 on a scale of 100 (5, 6).

The GI is a measurement of how quickly a food causes blood sugar levels to rise. Glucose — or pure sugar — has a GI of 100 and causes the most rapid increase in blood sugar. For context, white bread has a GI of 75 (7).

Jackfruit contains protein and fiber, both of which contribute to jackfruit’s lower GI, as they help slow digestion and keep blood sugar levels from rising rapidly (8).

Jackfruit also has a medium glycemic load (GL). The GL takes the number of carbs in a serving of food, as well as its GI, into consideration.

As such, it’s a more accurate way of assessing a food’s effect on blood sugar. A GL of 0–10 is considered low, while jackfruit has a moderate GL of 13–18. A GL of 20 or more is considered high (9).

In addition, jackfruit is rich in flavonoid antioxidants, which are compounds that some studies have associated with a lower risk of chronic disease over the long term (1).

In some studies, jackfruit extracts have been shown to decrease blood sugar levels. However, most of this research has been conducted in animals and used extracts from jackfruit leaves and stems (10, 11, 12, 13).

More research is needed to fully understand how jackfruit affects blood sugar levels in humans.

Summary

Jackfruit has a medium GI of 50–60 and a medium GL of 13-18. It also contains flavonoids and other nutrients that may aid long-term blood sugar control.

Can be eaten in moderation

If you have diabetes, you can enjoy jackfruit in moderation.

Still, because it’s low in fiber and high in carbs that will raise your blood sugar, it’s important to choose an appropriate portion size, such as 1/2 cup (75 grams) — which would provide 18 grams of carbs.

It has a medium GI, meaning it will not rapidly increase your blood sugar, compared with higher GI foods. It also contains antioxidants that may help you manage your blood sugar levels.

However, beans and legumes may be an even better meat substitute if you are a vegetarian or vegan with diabetes.

Legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils, and kidney beans, typically have a GI of 20–30 and contain more fiber and protein than jackfruit (7).

Summary

People with diabetes can eat jackfruit in moderation. However, legumes are a better meat alternative, as they have a lower GI, more protein, and more fiber.

The bottom line

Jackfruit is a unique fruit that’s commonly used as a meat alternative.

Though it will increase your blood sugar levels, it has a moderate GI and GL. Plus, the antioxidants in jackfruit may aid long-term blood sugar control.

Still, legumes may be a better meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians with diabetes, as they have a lower GI than jackfruit.

Nonetheless, jackfruit is a healthy choice that people with diabetes can enjoy in moderation.