Breadfruit may be the next superfood


Breadfruit has been eaten for centuries in countries around the planet is now getting the nutrient thumbs-up from a group of British Columbia researchers.

Breadfruit, which grows in abundance in tropical and South Pacific states, has long been a staple in the diet of a lot of men and women. The fruit can be eaten when ripe, or it may be dried and ground into a flour and made into to many types of meals, explains UBC Okanagan researcher Susan Murch.

“Breadfruit is a traditional staple crop from the Pacific islands with the potential to improve worldwide food security and mitigate diabetes,” says Murch, a chemistry professor in the newly-created Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science. “While people have survived on it for thousands of years there was a lack of basic scientific knowledge of the health impacts of a breadfruit-based diet in both humans and animals.”

Breadfruit can be harvested, dried and ground into a gluten-free flour. For the project, researchers needed four breadfruits from the same tree in Hawaii, sent to the Murch Lab at UBC Okanagan. Doctoral student Ying Liu headed the study analyzing the nourishment and health impact of a breadfruit-based diet.

“Detailed and systematic studies of the health impacts of a breadfruit diet had not previously been conducted and we wanted to contribute to the development of breadfruit as a sustainable, environmentally-friendly and high-production crop,” Liu says.

The few studies done on the product have been to examine the glycemic index of breadfruit–with a low glycemic index it is similar to many common staples such as wheat, cassava, yam and potatoes.

“The objective of our current study was to determine whether a diet containing breadfruit flour poses any serious health concerns,” explains Liu, who conducted her research with colleagues from British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Natural Health and Food Products Research Group and the Breadfruit Institute of the National Tropical Botanic Garden in Hawaii.

The investigators made a series of studies–with flour ground from dehydrated breadfruits–that may provide information on the impacts of a breadfruit-based diet to mice and also an enzyme digestion version.

The researchers decided that breadfruit protein has been found to be a lot easier to digest than wheat protein in the enzyme digestion version. And mice fed up with breadfruit diet had a significantly higher growth rate and body fat than standard diet-fed mice.

Liu also noted mice on the breadfruit diet had a significantly higher daily water intake compared to mice on the wheat diet. And at the conclusion of this three-week-trial, the body composition was similar between the breadfruit and wheat diet-fed mice.

“As the first complete, fully-designed breadfruit diet study, our data showed that a breadfruit diet does not impose any toxic impact,” says Liu. “Fundamental understanding of the health impact of breadfruit digestion and diets is necessary and imperative to the establishment of breadfruit as a staple or as a functional food in the future.”

The use of breadfruit is sustainable and nutritious and could Make inroads in meals sustainability for many people globally, she adds. By way of example, the typical daily consumption of grain in the United States is 189 grams (6.67 ounces) daily. Liu suggests if a person ate the same amount of cooked breadfruit they could meet up to nearly 57 per cent of their everyday fiber requirement, more than 34 per cent of the protein requirement and in the exact same time consume vitamin C, iron, potassium, calcium and phosphorus.

“Flour produced from breadfruit is a gluten-free, low glycemic index, nutrient-dense and complete protein option for modern foods,” says Liu.

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Categories: Cooking Eat Health