What is durian fruit?
Durian is a tropical fruit characterized by its large size and hard shell. It has a smelly, custard-like flesh with large seeds inside. There are several species, but the most common is Durio zibethinus. The pulp of the fruit can come in a variety of colors. It is most commonly yellow or white, but can also be red or green. Durian grows in tropical areas around the world, especially in Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Fruits can grow up to 1 foot long and 6 inches wide. A typical durian fruit has about 2 cups (486 grams) of edible pulp.
How is it used?
Durian is used in both sweet and savory dishes. Both the buttery flesh and seeds are edible, but the seeds need to be cooked. The flavor has been described as tasting like cheese, almonds, garlic and caramel all at the same time.
Common food preparations for durian fruit include:
- Seeds, boiled or roasted
- Candy, ice cream and other desserts
- Side dishes
It is also used in traditional medicine and has some medicinal properties that are currently being studied.
One of the most nutritious fruits
Durian has a very high nutritional profile compared to most other fruits. A cup of pulp provides:
- Calories: 357
- Fat: 13 grams
- Carbohydrates: 66 grams
- Fiber: 9 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Vitamin C: 80% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Thiamine: 61% of DV
- Manganese: 39% of DV
- Vitamin B6: 38% of DV
- Potassium: 30% of DV
- Riboflavin: 29% of DV
- Copper: 25% of DV
- Folic acid: 22% of DV
- Magnesium: 18% DV
- Niacin: 13% DV
This nutritional profile makes durian one of the most nutritious fruits in the world. It’s also rich in healthy plant compounds, including anthocyanins, carotenoids, polyphenols and flavonoids. Many of them act as antioxidants.
Health benefits of durian
All parts of the durian plant - leaves, husk, roots and fruit - have been used in Malaysian traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including high fever, jaundice and skin diseases.
Research shows that durian fruit has the following health benefits:
- Reduce the risk of cancer. Its antioxidants neutralize cancer-promoting free radicals. In one test-tube study, durian extract stopped the spread of a type of breast cancer cell.
- Prevent heart disease. Several compounds in durian may help reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
- Fights infection. The rind contains compounds with antibacterial and anti-yeast properties.
- Lower blood sugar. Durian has a lower glycemic index (GI) than many other tropical fruits, which means it may lower blood sugar levels.
While these studies show promise, many are done in animals or in test tubes. Until the health benefits of durian are confirmed by controlled studies in humans, no reliable claims can be made.
May be harmful in combination with alcohol
Eating durian while drinking alcohol can cause problems. Scientists believe that sulfur compounds in durian may prevent certain enzymes from breaking down alcohol, leading to increased blood alcohol levels. This may cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and heart palpitations. To be on the safe side, avoid eating durian and drinking alcohol at the same time.
How to eat durian
Opening the durian's hard, prickly shell usually requires wearing gloves or gloves to protect your hands. You'll need to cut the casing with a knife and pry it open with your hands, then gently remove the durian flesh. You can then eat it on its own, with sticky rice, or as an ingredient in a variety of dishes. You can find tutorials on how to open durian as well as many recipes online. The pulp is also sold frozen, which slightly changes its texture, making it looser and more stringy. Durian is also used in prepared foods such as candies. However, while this may give you an idea of its flavor, it won't give you any health benefits.
Why does it smell so strong?
There are different opinions about the smell of durian. Some people love it and others hate it. The smell was very strong and was described as a mixture of sulfur, sewage, fruit, honey, and roasted and rotten onions. A study of the aromatic compounds in durian found 44 active compounds, some of which are responsible for the smells of skunk, caramel, rotten eggs, fruit and soup flavoring. The fruit's smell is so strong that it's banned from many hotels and public transportation systems in Southeast Asia. Your impression of the fruit depends on whether you smell sweet or smelly compounds more strongly.
Durian is rich in healthy nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin C, minerals, plant compounds, healthy fats and fiber. However, the smell and taste may not be suitable for everyone.