Breadfruit improves sperm count, and effective against Pancreatic cancer

Medical Mall Model: a consideration for Ghana?
Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu---Professor of Holistic Medicine-Vinnytsia State Pedagogical University, Ukraine

Breadfruit, (Artocarpus altilis), tree of the mulberry family (Moraceae) and its large fruits that are a staple food of the South Pacific and other tropical areas. African breadfruit (Treculia africana), native to tropical Africa, is a related species.

Picture of the African breadfruit (Treculia africana)

Breadfruit  or jackfruit as is also called is a staple food of the people of Jamaica and many other tropical locations. A study confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA), , revealed that, breadfruit “significantly more effective” at repelling insects than DEET, the leading chemical insect repellent.

Another significant news is that, a study by Siddesha et al., 2011, confirmed that, the bark and leaves of breadfruit is loaded with medicinal value.  The Leaf extracts has the potential to effectively treat hypertension with no side effects.

Another study by  Viyoch et al., 2010, agrees that,  the wood of the breadfruit tree is further loaded with  antioxidants.  With regards to cosmetic, the bark of the tree is anti-wrinkle treatment due to its protection against damage and degradation of the skin

Nutritional Contents

According to, nd, one cup of raw breadfruit (about 220 grams)has the following :

  • 227 calories
  • 59.7 grams carbohydrate
  • 2.4 grams protein
  • 0.5 gram fat
  • 10.8 grams fiber
  • 63.8 milligrams vitamin C (106 percent  daily value /DV)
  • 1,078 milligrams potassium (31 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligram thiamine (16 percent DV)
  • 55 milligrams magnesium (14 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligram vitamin B6 (11 percent DV)
  • 2 milligrams niacin (10 percent DV)
  • 1 milligram pantothenic acid (10 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligram copper (9 percent DV)
  • 30.8 micrograms folate (8 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram manganese (7 percent DV)
  • 66 milligrams phosphorus (7 percent DV)
  • 1.2 milligrams iron (7 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram riboflavin (4 percent DV)
  • 37.4 milligrams calcium (4 percent DV)
Food made from the African breadfruit popularly called “UKWA” in Nigeria

On the other hand, the African breadfruit-Ukwa is produced by treculiar africana, a wild tropical evergreen tree which has an immense potential as a nutritional source for man. The African breadfruit, ukwa is large in size just like the popular watermelon and weighs 10 or more pounds. The evaluation carried out on it shows the chemical and nutritional properties as a first step to realizing its food value. The seed contained 8% moisture, 12.5% crude protein,4.2% fat, 2.3% ash 1.6% fiber and 73% carbohydrate. The carbohydrate and protein contents in it were much higher than other parameters studied. Compositions of toxicants in seed where found quite low with levels ( mg/ 100 g ) of 0.06+ 0.12 treculiar africana is said to be a tree species in the genus. Treculia which can be used as a food plant and for various other traditional uses. the fruits are hard and fibrous, can be the size of a volley ball and weight up to 8.5 kilograms.

Other Studies have also shown that Ukwa African breadfruit contains essential vitamins and minerals like Beta – Carotene, Vitamins and Folic Acid. Like other delicacies, Ukwa is rich in vital B Complex groups of vitamins, Thiamine,Pyridoxine, and niacin 100g or 3.5oz serving of Ukwa is composed of 10% fat, primarily unsaturated fat ( the good fat), 12 – 15% protein, 25% carbohydrates with 2% fiber and with only about 240 kcal in this serving amount. It is a proportion for individuals with diabetes.

Scientific Studies on Health Benefits

Good source of  Amino Acids

A study by Liu et al., 2015, revealed that, breadfruit is loaded with essential amino acids especially rich in phenylalanine, leucine, isoleucine and valine.” Due to the modern challenges we are experiencing in our food chain, its significant to supplement the diet with the broad spectrum of amino acids in order to maintain the highest level of functioning possible.

Fights Oxidative Stress

Jala et al., 2015,  is of the opinion that, all edible parts of the fruit of the breadfruit tree contain an impressive antioxidant load and offer the potential for many positive bioactive processes due to their high presence of phenols.

For instance, Adaramoye et al., 2016, investigated the effect of cadmium on alterations in sperm count and activity and found that the tested methanol extract of breadfruit caused significant improvement in sperm count, motility (movement) and hormone levels.

Padayatty et al., 2015 , study also tackled the antioxidant content in breadfruit and found that , it is loaded with  the daily value of vitamin C  needed. Besides, study also affirmed that, those who eat diets  rich in fruits and vegetables containing a lot of vitamin C have a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer, as well as an extended life span juxtaposed to those who do not have a high dietary intake of vitamin C.

Support strong Heart

Breadfruit is loaded with phytochemicals that protect the heart against atherosclerosis, a heart disease characterized by slowly building pockets of white blood cells in artery walls causing them to thicken. The Mayo Clinic, confirmed that, atherosclerosis can lead to myocardial ischemia, a blockage of blood supply to the heart that can lead to heart attack.  Wang et al., 2006, study demonstrates that, breadfruit is effective against  atherosclerosis.

Breadfruit is also effective against high cholesterol. In one rat model, Adaramoye et al., 2014, demonstrates that, a methanol extract from breadfruit alleviated all serum (blood) levels and symptoms associated with high cholesterol. Hence, it is a  cholesterol-lowering food.

Breadfruit is also incredibly high in fiber, offering nearly half the daily recommended intake in just one serving. A high-fiber diet is associated strongly with a reduced risk of high blood pressure, hypertension and other heart disease risk factors, along with metabolic syndrome.

Because breadfruit is high in potassium (with more than 30 percent of the daily value in one serving), it also offers protection from low potassium, a leading cause of congestive heart failure. Iezhitsa, 2005, study found that,  deficiencies in potassium and magnesium (which is also found in relatively high quantities in breadfruit) complicate and exacerbate heart problems, so anyone at risk for heart disease should take great care to supplement these essential nutrients into their diets.

Support Immunity

Breadfruit consumption boost immunity. One study by Wei et al.,2005, explained that, due to the fact that inflammation is at the center of most diseases, the presence of anti-inflammatory bioflavonoids in breadfruit is significant in reducing risk of disease.  Breadfruit in addition is loaded with  large quantity of thiamine, aka vitamin B1. Thiamine is part of what maintains muscle tone along the walls of the digestive tract, where the majority of the immune system is located. It also assists in the secretion of hydrochloric acid, supporting the body to fully digest food and absorb the highest amount of nutrients possible.

Fights Certain Cancers

Due to the numerous arrays of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, breadfruit has taken the center stage as a  potential cancer-fighting food. In one animal mode study, Lin et al.,2014, found that, breadfruit is the future natural treatment against skin cancer.  The study opined that, when an extract from this fruit, applied directly to the skin, its decreases the number, size and malignancy of skin tumors. Though, this study is novice, its set the tone for groundbreaking area in skin management research.

Not only skin cancers, but breadfruit has the potential to also fight pancreatic cancer as well. Interestingly, Pancreatic cancer functions differently than many other types of cancer because it’s not as vulnerable to “nutrient starvation” as other cancers often are. This means that the cancer drugs that are commonly prescribed to starve cancer cells of nutrients are even less effective than usual against cancer of the pancreas.

Edwards, 2016, notes: “Therefore, when studying possible treatments for pancreatic cancer, scientists must focus on things that can kill these cancer cells and prevent them from pulling nutrients from nearby vessels and cells”.

For instance, Nguyen et al.,2014,  pilot study  examines the  impact of an extract from the leaves of the breadfruit tree and demonstrates that, the chemical compound had 100 percent “preferential cytoxicity” against human pancreatic cancer cells known as PANC-1 under nutrient-deprived conditions. This means that the extract successfully killed 100 percent of the pancreatic cancer cells when subjected to a nutrient-deprived environment (which normally would have little to no effect on these cells).

Another study also conducted by Tzeng et al., 2015, investigated the effect of an extract from the breadfruit plant on liver cancer cells. The findings were very interesting, the study demonstrates that, the extract did not cause traditional apoptosis (programmed cell death) that’s often seen in anticancer nutrients and pharmaceuticals. But, when breadfruit was exposed to the extract, the liver cancer cells underwent autophagic death. This alternative method of cell death occurs naturally in the body as it processes proteins and breaks down damaged cells and is a more effective method of stopping cancer in certain cases.

Controls diabetes

Hettiaratchi et al.,2011, study demonstrates that, breadfruit has a fairly low glycemic index (GI), which is a measure of how quickly blood sugar rises after eating a food. This has been attributed to the fiber it provides, which slows digestion and helps prevent blood sugar spikes . Additionally, that same study by Hettiaratchi et al.,2011, demonstrates that, diets that include lots of low-GI foods are helpful for promoting blood sugar control. Also, a retrospective study by Promintzer , Krebs, 2006, demonstrates that, breadfruit  provides some protein, which may help prevent blood sugar levels from rising too quickly after a meal. In another retrospective study, Fernando et al, 1991, opined that, adults who consumed breadfruit extract were found to have significantly improved blood sugar levels. Omar et al, 2011, study of diabetic mice revealed that breadfruit leaf extract helped reduce fasting blood sugar levels and provided long-term blood sugar control. Testa et al., 2011, agrees that, the ability of breadfruit to do this, were attributed to the content of flavonoid antioxidants, which are known for their ability to promote balanced blood sugar levels.

How to Use

African version of Breadfruit

Breadfruit grows in various colors and generally has a round or globular shape, covered in bumps. This fruit should never be refrigerated because it can undergo chilling injury at temperatures below 12 Fahrenheit.

It may also be stewed, fried, baked, broiled or powdered. Generally, you should peel the outer skin, then split the fruit into quarter slices before discarding the central core, after which you can cut it into the appropriate size for whatever dish you plant to prepare. When baked, the taste is more closely related to freshly baked bread (which is how it earned its name). You can also safely consume the nuts of breadfruit plants. They’re often roasted or boiled much like nuts or lentils, says, Edwards, 2016.

Side effects

Everything has side effects including drinking too much water. Hence, moderation is key.  Some people experience allergic reaction such as hives and/or inflammation and swelling of the lips, tongue and mouth. In case you experience this, kindly stop and see your physician. Also, only eat unripe green-stage breadfruit after first cooking it. Eating unripe, raw breadfruit has the ability to trigger a choking danger.

Take Home

  • Because 80 percent of the world’s most impoverished people live near the equator, this incredible nutrition-packed food has remarkable potential in helping solve some hunger issues in these areas.
  • Breadfruit is loaded with  half of the daily recommended value of fiber and more than 100 percent of the amount of vitamin C body needs each day.
  • Studies have demonstrated the incredible effects in fighting cancer, preventing heart disease and boosting the immune system.
  • Breadfruit  is loaded with  number of antioxidants and exhibits anti-inflammatory activity within the body, both of which also help with the prevention of disease.
  • It’s not only the fruit of the tree that contains medicinal properties, but also the leaves and bark, which contain powerful antioxidants and may also help protect against heart disease.
  • This fruit can be eaten raw and ripe or cooked in a variety of methods. It’s a great “base” for many types of recipes. Just remember not to refrigerate it.
  • The African version of breadfruit, ukwa known in Nigeria, is large in size just like the popular watermelon and weighs 10 or more pounds.

For Breadfruit, contact the Ghana Breadfruit Initiative on 0244817772

The writer is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips, scientific herbs and healthy recipes in the world.

DISCLAIMER This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.

The writer is an honorary Professor of Holistic Medicine & Naturopathic Physician. Prof. Nyarkotey is also a chartered Management Consultant(ChMC), Chartered Institute of Management Consultant, Canada.  President, Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine and currently, LLB level 300 law student. Contact: 0241083423/0541234556


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