Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Health Benefits Of Durian

Durian is a large, spikey fruit with a rich content of phytonutrients, antioxidants, proteins, vitamins and minerals. The term ‘durian’ has been derived from the Malay word ‘duri’, which means thorn. 
Durian is delicious, soft and succulent with a distinctive sulfuric smell and is covered with formidable thorn husk. It is characterized by the rich, buttery smooth and luscious flesh that is finger-licking delicious. 
Also known as the “King of Fruits” in the Southeast Asian countries, durian boasts of numerous health promoting effects. Native to Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, this exotic fruit is 30 cm long and 15 cm wide and weighs around 1 to 3 kg. 
Today, the fruit is cultivated in Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, southern Philippines and other Asian countries. The shape can range from oblong to round. While the husk color is green to brown, flesh is mostly pale yellow to red, depending upon the species. Just like banana and jack fruit, durian is rich in energy, vitamins and minerals. Read on to know the health and nutrition benefits of eating durian. Also explore its nutritional value.
Nutritional Value of Durian
Amount of Durian (chopped): 1 cup
Total Weight of Durian (chopped): 243 g
Basic Components
3.6 g
13 g
158 g
2.7 g
Total Calories
Calories From Carbohydrate
Calories From Fat
Calories From Protein
Total Carbohydrate
65.8 g
Dietary Fiber
9.2 g
Vitamin A
107 IU
Vitamin C
47.9 mg
0.9 mg
0.5 mg
2.6 mg
Vitamin B6
0.8 mg
87.5 mcg
Pantothenic Acid
0.6 mg
14.6 mg
1 mg
72.9 mg
94.8 mg
1060 mg
4.9 mg
0.7 mg
0.5 mg
0.8 mg
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Eating Durian
  • Durian is a strong blood cleanser and a powerful aphrodisiac.
  • The roots and leaves of durian are used for preparing traditional medicines for curing fevers and jaundice.
  • The decoction prepared from leaves and fruits, is helpful for treating swellings and skin diseases.
  • The rind of durian is burned and the ash is consumed by women after childbirth.
  • Due to the high levels of amino acid tryptophan, durian is known to alleviate anxiety, depression and insomnia.
  • By raising levels of serotonin in the brain, it helps in creating feeling of happiness.
  • It is highly useful in lowering cholesterol.
  • It is a good muscle builder, due to its high content of soft protein.
  • Durian is a good source of vitamin C that helps in developing resistance against infectious agents and scavenges harmful free radicals.
  • It contains simple sugars like fructose and sucrose and some simple fats that replenish energy and revitalize the body instantly. Hence, durian is highly effective as a supplement food for underweight children.
  • Apart from iron, lack of folate can also lead to a type of anemia called pernicious anemia. Durian, being a good source of folate, helps in producing normal red blood cells (RBC).
  • Durian aids in regulating blood sugar level, due to its rich manganese content.
  • By promoting a normal appetite, durian helps in producing hydrochloric acid in the stomach, thereby assisting in proper digestion of food.
  • Packed with nutrients, durian helps in increasing energy, endurance, mental clarity and cellular health.
  • It enhances libido, thereby revitalizing the desire for sexual intimacy.
  • Durian fruit, when combined with alcohol, can trigger side effects such as strong gastro spasms and explosive flatulence.
Cooking Tips
  • Durian is used to flavor a wide variety of sweet edibles, such as traditional Malay candy, ice kachang, dodol, rose biscuits, etc.
  • It is also used for preparing ice cream, milk shakes, Yule logs and cappuccino.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Demand for Durian: the medicinal fruit

About 550 people from various parts of Southern India have placed their orders to buy and taste the rare Durian Fruit, which has medicinal value, with Tamil Nadu State Horticultural Department, growing this rare tree at Kallar and Barliyar Horticultural farms in Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu.

People believe that the fruit is the anti-dote to infertility.

This leads to high demand for it every year. In the southern states, the demand is for the spiny variety.
The fruit is believed to possess medicinal qualities and increase a woman's estrogen hormone production, enabling her to conceive.

Drian, botanically called as ''Durio Zebittheinus'' will start yieling fruits in the next 15 days from 33 trees after being planted. The fruit will be sold Rs 300 per kg this year as against Rs 230 per kg last year. The season for this will be July to September every year.

Last year, they had sold the fruit to about 400 people from a total production of 1127 kg. The yield was 1540 kgs during 2006-07.

This year, they expect an yield about 1500 kgs from the two farms, B Ramakrishnan, Assistant Director, Horticultural Department told UNI.

He said once the fruit is picked from the tree, it should be consumed within two to three days. Each fruit weighs between one to two kgs.

It is also said to be rich in carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Under its hardy shell are sections of pale yellow flesh with a consistency that can be as soft and oozy as custard, along with a flavour that is nutty and sweet with hints of vanilla and an occasional bitter taste.
The traders of Durian in the markets are receiving good response from the public even though it is costly, said Vinayakam, a trader here.

He Said ''Durian has good medical benefits and is rare to get. Though it is costly, ''I buy them every year because it has good medicinal benefit and is also good to market.'' Durian tree is native to South East Asia, primarily Sumatra and Borneo. But it could easily be transplanted in equatorial Africa, equatorial Central America, or Southern United States.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Foodie's delight: Durian fruit ruling Chennai's palate

It looks like a devil but smells like hell. And it tastes like heaven. That is how the Chennai people refer to Durian fruit. The round and spiky import from Southeast Asia is a sell out in the city. "Durian fruits have good medical benefits and are rare to get. It is also very costly in the market. But I bought it because it has good medicinal benefit for health," says Vinayakam, a buyer.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Durian and Cholesterol

The Cholesterol Content of Durian

Is durian high in cholesterol? No. This part is simple: durian does not contain cholesterol. None at all. The USDA National Nutrient Database lists any amount of durian as containing 0.0 mg of cholesterol. For those familiar with basic nutrition or biology this should come as no surprise since no plants contain cholesterol. So, durian doesn't have any cholesterol and neither does any other fruit or vegetable.

Dietary Fat Influences Cholesterol Levels

Durian is not off the hook just yet, though, because even without containing cholesterol food can affect a person's blood cholesterol levels. Dietary fat has an influence on the amount and type of cholesterol circulating in our arteries. The scientific community has conflicting opinions on the details of this relationship, but the majority of evidence seems to indicate that increased dietary fat intake results in increased blood cholesterol levels (within a range).

Durian, with an average of 30 percent of calories coming from fat, is a fatty fruit, but does eating it increase your fat intake (and therefore your cholesterol)?  The answer is 'yes' if the alternative is a handful of bananas, plain rice, or a plain potato, but more common meals like fried rice with chicken, a baked potato with butter, or macaroni and cheese, are all likely to contain more fat per serving than durian. For comparison, 72 percent of calories in cheddar cheese are from fat and even a glass of 2% reduced fat milk provides 35 percent of its calories from fat.

Not that all of this fat is necessarily a bad thing. Cholesterol is vital to good health. While you don't want your cholesterol levels to be too high, extremely low cholesterol leads to its own set of problems. Eating a moderate amount of fat can help to keep your cholesterol in the healthy range, between 160 and 200 mg/dL.
Total blood cholesterol is, however, only part of the story. Perhaps more important for cardiovascular health are the amounts of high density lipoprotein (HDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) circulating in your blood. HDL is known as 'good' cholesterol, and LDL is commonly regarded as 'bad.' Most people with cholesterol issues will benefit from lowering LDL and increasing HDL. How do you do that?

Improving Cholesterol Levels

Here's the mainstream medical advice for achieving healthy cholesterol levels:
  • Exerise regularly – Opening a durian is exercise.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – Skip the all-you-can-eat durian buffet?
  • Avoid trans fats – Not a problem. Don't deep fry your durian.
  • Limit saturated fats  – Unfortunately, this one might apply.
Most medical and public health literature advises us to limit our consumption of fats and especially of saturated fats which are accused of causing a rise in total cholesterol. My research into the relationship between dietary saturated fat and cholesterol levels has not lead me to easy conclusions. It is a complicated subject, and one on which many disagree. I will attempt to paint a picture of the complexities while respecting the prevailing precautionary recommendation.

It is worth considering the difficulty of establishing the relationship between serum cholesterol and any one nutrient. To reduce saturated fat intake without reducing total calories requires increasing some other nutrient, so it is not possible to claim that limiting saturated fats reduces serum cholesterol without considering the substitute (or otherwise showing the effect wasn't the result of reduced total calories).

A meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials found that replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates did little to improve the total to HDL ratio, while replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fats (cis, of course, not trans) did show significant improvements. 

The same study also found that while lauric acid, a saturated fat, increased total cholesterol, it achieved this mostly through an increase of HDL, the 'good' cholesterol. Lauric acid is not especially prevalent in durian, but this finding does suggest the current stance against saturated fat deserves further consideration.

The standard advice shouldn't be casually disregarded, but there is a growing field of researchers who disagree with the commonly held belief that saturated fat causes unhealthy cholesterol levels. These thinkers also tend to question the causal relationship between cholesterol levels and heart disease, citing the greater positive correlation of other conditions such as inflammation. If you want to learn a great deal more, consider my recommended reading list below.

Until the evidence is sufficient to persuade the majority to rewrite the books, it may be prudent to limit most dietary saturated fats and when necessary reduce their intake by substituting with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. With that in mind, let's take a look at the saturated fat content of durian and how the king of fruits can fit into a healthy diet.

The Fat of the Matter

The fatty acid composition of durian is different for each variety, but there are enough similarities to draw a general picture. The USDA lacks detailed data on the breakdown of durian's fat, but an independent study analyzing the fatty acid content of four Malaysian cultivars (D-24, D-2, D-8, D-66) found a fair amount of saturated fat, between 58 and 65 percent of total fat (Berry, 1981).

That's high compared to well-known sources of monounsaturated fat like olive oil, which is only 14 percent saturated, and almonds (7%), but still lower than butter (68%), and coconut oil (86%). Of course, only 5 percent of a durian is fat; almonds are 49 percent, butter 51 percent, and olive oil and coconut oil are 100 percent fat. Point being you can eat considerably more (10 to 20 times more!) durian and consume the same amount of saturated fat found in a lesser amount of these higher fat foods.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to 7 percent of daily calories. The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion suggests limiting saturated fat to 10 percent of daily calories. On a 2000 calorie diet, 7 percent allows 16 grams, and 10 percent allows 22 grams of saturated fat. To reach 16 grams you would have to eat about 450 grams of durian. Monthong, one of the fleshiest durians, is 30 percent edible. If we use that figure (which is on the high end to be safe), we will find 450 edible grams in a 1.5 kg durian. The 10% mark of 22 grams saturated fat is found in 2.0kg of durian, by this same estimation.


Luckily, it seems the recommendations for achieving healthy cholesterol levels do not preclude eating durian. They may, however, indicate moderation of durian consumption is wise for people with existing cholesterol issues. For the rest of us, I think it is probably safe to pig out.

If your diet is otherwise low in saturated fat, you can safely eat a 1.5 to 2.0 kilogram durian, even the fleshiest varieties with the highest saturated fat, every single day and fall within the guidelines for a heart healthy diet.
  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. 2008. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21. 
  2. "Fats and Cholesterol: Out with the Bad, In with the Good." The Nutrition Source. Harvard School of Public Health. Web.
  3. Mensink, Zock, Kester, Katan. "Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 77.5 (2003): 1146-1155.
  4. Brown, Michael J. Durio - A Bibliographic Review. Ed. R.K. Arora, V. Ramanatha Rao and A.N. Rao. New Delhi: IPGRI office for South Asia, 1997. Print.
  5. Berry, Shiv. "Fatty acid composition and organoleptic quality of four clones of durian (Durio zibethinus, murr.)." Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society 58.6 (1981): 716-717. DOI: 10.1007/BF02899460
  6. American Heart Association. "Know Your Fats." Published online. Updated June 25, 2012.
  7. USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Print and Web.
Recommended Reading (Alternative Opinions on Saturated Fat):
  1. Stephen Guyenet's article on the effect of long-term saturated fat intake on blood cholesterol levels is a good introductory read.
  2. Gary Taube's Good Calories, Bad Calories is a critical look at the history and evolution of nutritional and health sciences politics that lead to the current “fat is bad” paradigm.
Disclaimer: This article is for general education purposes only and should not be regarded as medical advice. If you have a cholesterol condition consult a licensed physician.