Will breadfruit be the new global trend?
As a more nutritious and sustainable alternative to wheat, researchers suggest breadfruit might be the next superfood.
Breadfruit holds huge promises and could be the next big trend, according to a research team from the University of British Columbia (UBC).
Breadfruit grows in abundance in tropical and South Pacific countries and can be eaten in a variety of ways, including fresh or dried and ground into flour. According to the team’s studies, it is a more nutritional and sustainable alternative to staples such as wheat, cassava and potatoes.
The researchers also believe that it has the potential to improve worldwide food security and mitigate diabetes.
For the project, the researchers had four breadfruits from the same tree in Hawaii shipped to the Murch Lab at UBC Okanagan.
“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,” explained study lead, Ying Liu.
The studies which have been carried out have been to examine the glycemic index of breadfruit; with a low glycemic index it is comparable 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,” said Liu.
The UBC team conducted several studies using flour ground from dehydrated breadfruits which could provide data on the impacts of a breadfruit-based diet fed to mice and also an enzyme digestion model.
Breadfruit protein was much easier to digest than wheat protein in the enzyme digestion model, the researchers discovered. While the mice on the special diet exhibited a higher growth rate and body weight compared to mice on a standard diet.
The breadfruit-fed mice also had a much higher daily water consumption, and at the end of the three-week-trial, their body composition was similar to the 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,” said 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.”
Lui believes the nutritional and sustainable benefits breadfruit could be hugely benefit to the global population. For example, the average daily consumption of grain in the United States is 189g per day. Liu suggests if a person ate the same amount of cooked breadfruit, they can meet up to nearly 57 percent of their daily fibre requirement, more than 34 percent of their protein requirement and at the same time consume vitamin C, potassium, iron, calcium and phosphorus.
“Flour produced from breadfruit is a gluten-free, low glycemic index, nutrient-dense and complete protein option for modern foods,” Liu concluded.