There are 30 tree species that fall into the genus ‘Duro’, so technically, the fruit of any of these trees would be called durians; however, there is only one species that is available in the international market and so the name ‘Durian’ is taken to mean this particular fruit. There are 8 other types of Durians but these are only available in the local markets of Southeast Asia.
The durian is often referred to as the “king of fruits” and it has an unusual and rather intimidating appearance with a thick thorn covered husk. Durians
are large and heavy and a single fruit can be six inches in diameter and weigh up to three kilograms. The edible flesh is sweet and creamy and is often compared to a blend of pineapple, mango, papaya and custard apple.
However, despite being famous for its unique appearance and taste, the durian is notorious for its stench. The durian has a strong and sweet odor that is often compared to putrefying flesh and raw sewage! Anthony Burgess, who is best known for his novel A Clockwork Orange, said that eating a durian was "like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory"! The odor is so strong and penetrating even with the husk intact that the raw fruit is banned in most establishments and public places, including the public transport system in Southeast Asia.
Health Benefits of Durian
Since the durian is an exotic fruit, it had not received a lot of scientific scrutiny until a few decades ago and as a result of this, the durian health benefits are still being discovered. Here are a few of the health benefits of this fruit:
- Controls Cholesterol Levels: Preliminary tests on rats showed that consuming durian along with their regular diet had lowered cholesterol levels and LDL (bad) cholesterol as compared to rats that did not consume the fruit. Researchers believe that the antioxidants and other compounds in the durian have a positive effect on the lipid and metabolic status of the subject.
- Improves Heart Health: Durians are rich in polyphenols, flavonoids and carotenoids which make it the perfect addition to an antiatherosclerotic diet. Durians are also very high in sulphur which is one of the main reasons for its noxious odor. Sulphur deficiency plays a part in the development of hypertension as hydrogen sulphide is required for smooth muscle cell relaxation and high blood pressure reduction. The organosulfur compounds derived from durians can help to control blood pressure and prevent heart disease.
- Durians for Pregnant Women: Some Asian communities consider it a taboo to eat durians during pregnancy but a medium serving of this fruit is fine unless the mother-to-be has gestational diabetes. This is because durians have a high sugar and carb content and they also have a high glycaemic index which means that eating a large quantity can cause a spike in sugar levels. Durians are rich in several compounds that have anti-microbial effects and these compounds can help to prevent fungal and bacterial infections and thus benefit pregnant women. They are also rich in several nutrients including folate and vitamin B6 which play a vital role in an unborn baby’s physical and mental development. Folate is especially important during pregnancy as it helps to prevent neural tube defects in unborn babies.
- Ideal for Weight Gain: Durians are high in fats, carbohydrates and sugars which make them ideal for a healthy weight gain diet plan. Eating durian on a regular basis will increase your calorie intake and help you to gain weight. You can also include homemade durian cookies or durian ice cream in your diet as a high calorie healthy dessert. If you are averse to the smell of this fruit, durian ice cream would be a good choice as it retains the flavor while reducing the strength of the smell.
- Prevents Scurvy: Scurvy is not a persistent problem in developed nations but it is still common in developing nations. Scurvy is caused by a lack of Vitamin C and the symptoms range from spots on the thighs and legs to spongy gums and malaise. In the later stages of this condition, the patient develops jaundice and fever and can ultimately die if the condition is left untreated. Durians are very high in vitamin C and a single serving of just 100 grams of this fruit can provide a person with quarter of their daily requirement for vitamin C.
While most fruits are best consumed raw, if you are not used to durians, it may be best to start out with a durian frappe, jam or jelly so that you can get accustomed to the new taste. There are several simple durian fruit recipes that you can use in your daily diet. When deciding on a low calorie recipe, take into account the durian calories as well as the calories for the other ingredients in your recipe. In many cases, the calories of the additional ingredients are far more than that of the main ingredient. Here are 2 low calorie durian recipes that are especially recommended for people who are not used to this fruit.
Durian Fruit Chocolate and Mint SmoothieIngredients:
- 1 kg frozen durian flesh with the seeds removed
- 15-20 fresh mint leaves
- 1 glass of chilled almond milk
- 1 cup of chocolate chips, divided
- Blend the frozen durian, mint leaves, chilled almond milk and ˝ of the chocolate chips until the mixture is smooth.
- Pour the smoothie into two tall glasses and mix in the rest of the chocolate chips.
- Serve immediately.
- 1 kg unripe durian
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 2 cups vegetable oil
- Slice the durian using a mandolin slicer so that each individual slice is the same thickness. This is important as it will ensure that all the chips cook evenly and you don’t land up with a mixture of burned and raw chips.
- Separate the slices and place them on a plate.
- Heat the oil in a deep saucepan and once it’s hot enough, slide the chips into the oil while making sure that they don’t clump together.
- Stir the chips around for a few seconds until they start to brown and then ladle them onto paper towels to soak in the excess oil.
- Sprinkle salt evenly on the chips and toss them while they are still hot. Serve with a cream cheese or onion dip.