Durian vs. Jackfruit: Weighing the Differences
From a glance, durian and jackfruit appear to have a similar look. They’re both larger-than-average fruits with green or brownish exteriors and don’t have a smooth surface.
But there are some notable differences between these fruits, including their taste, smell, and nutrition profiles. So, we’ll help you understand the differences between durian vs. jackfruit so you can determine whether you want to include one or both of them in your vegan diet.
Table of Contents
What Is Durian?
Durian is a tropical fruit that’s native to Southeast Asia. It’s an excellent source of many nutrients, although it’s not a beloved fruit by everyone, given its strong smell and flavor that often requires an acquired taste.
It’s hard to mistake durian for another fruit (except, perhaps, jackfruit) given that it has a lot of spikes on its hard outer shell.
You can eat durian raw or cooked. But while you can consume its inner flesh straight from the fruit, you’ll need to cook its seeds if you wish to eat them.
Although people have been eating durian in Southeast Asia since prehistoric times, it’s only been about 600 years since this fruit arrived in the west.
Even so, it isn’t common to find it at your average grocery store. Instead, you can usually find it at specialty Asian stores.
What Is Jackfruit?
Like durian, jackfruit is a tropical fruit. Historians believe it likely originated in India, although it grows in Southeast Asia like durian. You can also find jackfruit trees in Latin America.
Jackfruit goes by several names, depending on the country you’re in. Some other common names for it include:
When you eat jackfruit, it’s actually its flowers fused together that you’re consuming. So, the petals are what make up this sweet fruit.
Eating younger raw jackfruit results in fruit with more crunch, whereas more mature jackfruits often have a softer texture.
Now that you have a bit of background on these two fruits let’s explore the similarities and differences between durian vs. jackfruit in more detail.
Durian is a massive fruit that grows as big as one-foot long and six inches wide. It has tightly packed spikes protruding from its hard shell.
The outside of the durian is green or brown. But its insides vary in color depending on the species, including:
Jackfruit is also a large fruit with a green and sometimes brownish exterior. But there are some distinguishing differences between it and durian. Most notably, its size.
Jackfruit is the largest tree-growing fruit, growing as long as three feet and as wide as 20 inches. The largest jackfruits can weigh as much as 110 pounds.
Many people pick jackfruit before they get this large, though. So, it’s common to see people selling jackfruit only about one-foot long and weighing “only” around ten pounds.
Another easy way to tell the difference between jackfruit and durian is that jackfruit has a bumpy exterior compared to durian’s spiky shell.
It also looks different when you open it, given that it contains dozens if not hundreds of yellowish-orange pods between a white, stringy casing.
Flavor and Scent
Durian and jackfruit are worlds apart in their smell. Most people need to acquire a taste for durian, but they might not even get to that point if they can’t overcome its pungent odor.
People have many words and phrases to describe durian’s smell, some of which include smelling like a dead animal, rotten onions, or sewage. It’s even illegal to carry durian on public transportation and eat it in many public places in Singapore because its stench is so strong.
As for flavor, durian’s reputation doesn’t get much better. Because durian doesn’t taste like any other fruit, it’s a food you must try to see for yourself. Nevertheless, below are some ways that people describe durian’s taste:
- Caramelized onions
- Butterscotch pudding
- Chives with powdered sugar
But here’s the thing: Don’t be surprised if you come up with your own ways to describe durian once you taste it.
Jackfruit has a much more pleasant scent and flavor for the average person than durian, given that it smells sweet. You can expect the smell to be between a ripe banana, pineapple, and bubble gum.
But there’s also a non-sweet undertone reminiscent of a rotten onion. Overall, though, jackfruit smells sweet like you’d expect from a fruit. In fact, it has such a sweet odor that some people find its smell too overpowering.
You might wonder, does jackfruit live up to as sweet of a taste as it smells?
The answer depends on when you harvest it.
Young jackfruit has a mild, almost tasteless flavor. Between that and its meat-like texture, many vegans enjoy using it as a meat substitute.
Once it reaches maturity, jackfruit is incredibly sweet. It has a tropical flavor that’s a mix between mango (see also ‘Mango Brown Inside: Getting to the Bottom of the Problem‘), pineapple, and peach. Some people find it an excellent substitute for dessert, while people who don’t have a sweet tooth might find its sugary flavor overpowering.
Durian and jackfruit vary significantly in their calorie content. While both fruits have higher-than-average calorie content, given that they have so many nutrients, durian is substantially higher in calories.
The calories for a one-cup serving of these fruits are as follows:
In comparison, a medium-sized banana only has 110 calories.
So, the bottom line is that if you’re watching your calorie intake, jackfruit might be okay to eat in small quantities, but durian will rack up the calories. Of course, you’ll receive many health benefits from both these fruits, which we’ll explore shortly.
Durian and jackfruit are excellent sources of macronutrients, which include protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Of the two, durian is a fruit you’d want to have around if you were stuck on an island with no other food source.
The breakdown of these fruits’ macros is as follows.
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 13 grams
- Carbohydrates: 66 grams
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: 2 grams
- Carbohydrates: 38 grams
Needless to say, neither durian nor jackfruit is ideal for eating on a low-carb diet. However, that’s typical of most fruits.
What isn’t typical for many fruits is such a high concentration of protein and fat. If we circle back to our medium-sized banana comparison, a banana only offers one gram of protein and zero grams of fat.
So, durian, in particular, is a type of food so dense in macronutrients that it has nutritional qualities similar to a meal. But in both cases, vegans can use these fruits as meat substitutes. Although they don’t have as high of macros as meat, they still offer a significant source of nutrients.
Since fiber is a type of non-digestible carbohydrate, it’s worth noting that durian has a massive nine grams of fiber and the same portion of jackfruit has only a third of that amount.
Vitamins and Minerals
Durian takes the cake on offering a wide range of vitamins and minerals, although both fruits are excellent sources of these micronutrients. We’ve listed some of the most notable vitamins and minerals they contain below.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
In addition to these micronutrients, durian is an excellent source of antioxidants, with plant compounds like anthocyanins and flavonoids.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamins B2, B3, B6, and B9
As with durian, jackfruit also contains antioxidants.
Durian and jackfruit share a range of similar and unique health benefits. We’ll break down the most notable ones for you here.
By eating durian regularly, you might gain the following health benefits:
- Reduced chance of heart disease
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Decreased cancer risk
Scientists also believe that durian is effective at fighting infections, reducing fevers, and healing skin conditions like jaundice.
It’s not just the fruit that’s effective that these items, though; many parts of durian, including its leaves, roots, and husk, support these health benefits in traditional Asian medicine.
Because of its tryptophan content, which breaks down into serotonin, you might feel happier and more relaxed after eating durian. Chocolate works the same way. So, if you’re trying to cut back on sweets and added sugar but love the happiness boost that chocolate provides, eating some durian is an excellent option.
A notable adverse health reaction worth noting is that drinking alcohol with durian can be a harmful situation. That’s because durian contains enzymes that don’t allow your body to break down alcohol. The result is an increase in blood alcohol levels.
Thanks to its carotenoid concentration, jackfruit’s high vitamin A content makes it excellent at preventing eye issues like macular degeneration and cataracts.
Jackfruit’s fiber content also means that it reduces the risk of constipation. As a result, you can expect more regular bowel movements by eating it, and it can help reduce the risk of overheating since it’ll keep you feeling full for longer.
Another advantage of jackfruit’s fiber content is that it doesn’t cause massive spikes in blood sugar levels. That’s because it takes longer for your body to absorb jackfruit, making it a more suitable option than processed foods and even certain other fruits.
Of course, durian is an outstanding source of fiber, so you can expect to benefit from eating it in similar ways.
Other health benefits that jackfruit may offer you include reducing the risk of:
- Heart disease
- Bone loss
- High blood pressure
Most people don’t have jackfruit allergies. However, if you know you’re allergic to birch pollen, it’s best to avoid this fruit.
Durian and jackfruit are extremely versatile, as you can eat them raw or cooked.
To eat durian raw, remove the pods from the main part of the fruit. Then, suck on the pod until the pulp releases into your mouth.
Eating jackfruit raw involves cutting the orange fruit away from its white casing. You can then stick the entire seed in your mouth, chewing the fruit around the seed, much like you do a cherry.
Both unripe durian and jackfruit make excellent meat substitutes for vegans. Unripe durian can even have a chicken-like flavor, whereas jackfruit has a mild flavor, taking on the tastes of the spices in the dish.
Because durian is creamier than jackfruit, you can use it in curry, baked goods, and even boba tea. In contrast, jackfruit is often best as a pulled pork or other meat imitation.
Durian is also an excellent fruit to use in sweet dishes if you want to make them healthier with a boost in nutrition. You can make durian souffle, vegan milkshakes, candy, and cake.
It’s also possible to eat durian and jackfruit seeds. You’ll need to cook them first, though, via boiling, steaming, or roasting them. Jackfruit seeds are particularly delicious, as they have hints of a chocolate flavor.
In contrast, durian seeds have a blander flavor, with a texture similar to a chalky potato. People often add salt and other spices to durian seeds to make them more appealing.
While there are many differences between durian vs. jackfruit, one thing is certain: Both fruits are a great source of nutrients.
They also serve as excellent meat substitutes, given that they have notable sources of protein and fats. That said, you’ll need to prepare to shell out some money to buy them, given that grocery stores often purchase them from Asia. Durian is usually more expensive than jackfruit.
If you’re unsure which fruit to try, jackfruit is the safest option, given that it has a flavor profile closer to traditional fruit. But if you’re an adventurous eater, trying durian is a great choice.
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