Durian Fruit: Benefits, Nutrition, Tips and Risks

Durian fruit is a nutritious fruit. It contains various nutrients, but its taste is not too good. An interesting fact about durian fruit is that it has a distinctive and robust aroma. This notorious smell resembles rotten eggs or onions and it is caused by volatile sulfur compounds regulated by methionine gamma lyases.

Because of its strong smell, durian fruit is banned at the airports and hotels. There are also restrictions on transport and storage.

Though the fruit doesn’t smell great, its fruit pulp tastes fantastic. The inner yellow flesh of durian fruit has an interesting combination of sweet and savory taste and a creamy custard-like texture. (1)

What is Durian Fruit?

Durian fruit is a popular fruit of Southeast Asia, where it is acknowledged as the ‘king of all fruits’. This large fruit has a hard outer shell, with spiky outer parts either light green or brownish in color. The fruit generally weighs 1-3 kilograms.

Durians grow particularly in Southeast Asian countries, which include Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and Indonesia. The name durian originally comes from the Malay word ‘Duri’, which mean ‘thorn’ of the fruits.

Durian trees produce fruits only 5-7 years after the germination of their seeds. Each durian tree produces around 15-800 fruits in every fruiting season.

The scientific name of durian fruit is ‘Durio Zebethinus’. The species name Zebethinus is based on the name of large Indian civet, an animal native to Southeast Asia, well-known for its musky smell.

Nutrient Composition of Durian Fruit

Some people dislike this fruit just because of the way it smells. Durian fruit is highly nutritious and if this fruit is not on your list, you are definitely missing out on a huge chunk of health benefits. Let’s have a look at the nutrient composition of this fruit:

Durian pulp is an excellent source of various nutrients important in the human diet. It is rich in vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, a natural antioxidant and health benefiting B-complex vitamins like folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B6.

It also contains a good amount of minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. In other words, durian fruit is a natural multivitamin and a multi-mineral supplement.

It is a moderate source of dietary fat and a great source of dietary fiber. The fatty acids present in durian fruit include:

  • Linoleic acid
  • Myristic acid
  • Oleic acid
  • Palmitoleic acid
  • Palmitic acid
  • Stearic acid

The flesh of durian fruit contains simple sugars, which revitalize the body and provide energy instantly.

Furthermore, durian fruit is a great source of bioactive compounds like flavonoids, phenolic acids, and tannins that are natural health-boosters. These compounds help in the prevention as well as management of various diseases and disorders. (2)

Health Benefits of Durian Fruit

We always come across the health benefits of various fruits and vegetables, but little is spoken about durian fruit. Let’s have a look at what scientific studies have to say about the advantages of eating this smelly, yet nutritious fruit:

It Lowers Blood Glucose Levels

Durian fruit is a boon for individuals with diabetes mellitus. Studies have found that after ingestion of durian fruit, the insulin response was improved compared to ingestion of other fruits such as mango, pineapple and banana.

The bioactive compounds present in this fruit maintain a correct glucose balance in the body by altering insulin secretion and action.

These compounds reduce insulin resistance and make the body cells more responsive to insulin. This helps in maintaining the blood glucose levels within the normal range as well as reduces pressure on the pancreas.

Besides this, durian fruit possesses a great antioxidant capacity. Such a property is attributed to the presence of polyphenols in it. This antioxidant property of durian is useful for the prevention of oxidative stress-mediated induction of diabetes mellitus and its complications.

These antioxidants protect the pancreas against attack by free radicals, prevent the death of pancreatic beta-cells, which are the producers of insulin and thus, prevent the rise in the blood glucose levels.

Furthermore, 100 grams of durian fruit contains 3 grams of dietary fiber. Eating such fiber-rich foods, slow down the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose during digestion, which prevents a sudden spike in the blood glucose level.

Hence, individuals with diabetes mellitus can add this amazing fruit to their dietary regimen. (3, 4)

Fights Bacterial Infection

The rind or the outer skin of the durian fruit possesses anti-bacterial properties. One interesting study found that polysaccharide, a carbohydrate present in the outer skin of this fruit fights against oral pathogens, Streptococcus mutans, and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans.

It inhibits their growth, disrupts their structure and thus prevents dental caries. The polysaccharides further form a gel-like structure around the bacteria and prevent their interaction with other healthy cells of the body. This helps in maintaining proper oral hygiene.

Furthermore, the rind of durian fruit contains anti-bacterial compounds that inhibit the growth of Klebsiella pneumonia, a bacteria that is harmless when present in the intestines, but harmful when spread to other parts of the body.

The active compounds include flavonoids, alkaloid, tannin, and triterpenoid. These flavonoids reduce the bacterial population by cutting down the supply of energy to the bacteria. It further prevents the formation of DNA and eventually causes the death of the bacteria.

Thus, durian is an excellent source of anti-bacterial compounds that help in flushing out the toxins from the body. (5, 6)

It is anti-inflammatory

Inflammation plays a key role in the initiation and progression of various diseases. Several bioactive compounds present in durian fruit possess anti-inflammatory properties.

Bioactive compounds like flavonoids, carotenoids, anthocyanins, and flavonols have reported being present in the durian pulp.

These compounds inhibit the synthesis and activity of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body and reduce the level of overall inflammation. They also block the action of certain enzymes that are involved in the production and action of inflammatory compounds.

Therefore, consumption of durian fruit is a great strategy to prevent progression of inflammatory diseases. (7, 8)

Protects Against Liver Damage

The content of nutrients, antioxidants, and bioactive compounds is the highest when durian fruit is completely ripe. The bioactive compounds particularly, quercetin present in this fruit inhibit toxic chemical-induced liver damage.

This compound improves the structure of the liver, promotes regeneration of liver cells and reduces collagen content, which is otherwise responsible for the hardening of the liver. As the collagen content decreases, the structure of the liver becomes normal and as a result of this, the functionality of the liver improves too.

Besides this, antioxidants present in this fruit protect the liver against free radical attack. High levels of oxidative stress can deplete glutathione, a major antioxidant in the liver cells. Durian fruit intake restores the glutathione levels, which detoxifies the liver and strengthens it. So, people with liver damage or liver disease should add durian fruit to their diet.

Improves Lipid Profile And Heart Health

Durian fruit is an anti-lipidemic agent, says research. Polysaccharide gels extracted from this exotic fruit are a rich source of soluble fiber. This polysaccharide gel has the ability to entrap lipids and reduces its release in the bloodstream.

Moreover, antioxidants present in durian fruit prevent the rise of the plasma lipid level and inhibit oxidation of LDL molecules. Thus, it prevents the formation of a clot in the arteries as well as blockage of arteries. (9)

Different Ways To Eat Durian Fruit

  1. Durian fruit tastes delicious even when eaten on its own. But, some people may find it difficult to cut and open the fruit. Here is how you can open durian fruit:
  2. When opening this fruit, some people prefer wearing hand gloves to protect their hands from the spikes as well as from the unpleasant smell.
  3. Firstly, slice the stem from the top of the fruit using a sharp knife. Now turn the fruit and place it stem side down on a clean surface. Using a knife make a cut on the top through the thick skin of the durian fruit. With the help of your hands pull back the skin.
  4. Open the fruit completely, but be careful not to poke yourself against the spikes. Once the fruit is open, remove the large pods of the fruit with your hand or a spoon.
  5. Remove the stones or seeds from the flesh of the fruit before eating or serving.
  6. Besides eating it plain, durian tastes good when combined with other tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, papaya, and guava.
  7. Durian has a custard-like texture, therefore a glass of rich and creamy durian smoothie can perfectly satisfy your sweet tooth. Just blend together a half cup of durian flesh with a half cup of milk. You can even add cocoa powder for a chocolaty touch.
  8. Durian ice cream is a famous treat in many Asian countries.
  9. Durian fruit is also added to soups and curries to enhance the richness of these food preparations.
  10. Grilled durian is another way to enjoy this fruit.

Who Should Eat Durian Fruit?

Any person who doesn’t mind the smell of this fruit can enjoy it! Durian fruit is loaded with multiple vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and bioactive compounds. These nutrients boost the overall health and keep diseases at bay. Durian fruit can be consumed by healthy individuals, but individuals with a weak immune system or poor health can benefit greatly if they eat this fruit on a daily basis.

Besides this, durian fruit is an amazing pre-workout snack. It is a good source of carbohydrates that provide energy instantly. Hence, durian fruit will help fuel your workout. Besides this, durian fruit contains vitamin C, which prevents muscle soreness and cramps during a workout.

Durian fruit is also great for individuals with depressed immunity. This fruit is power-packed with various nutrients that are required by the immune cells to function correctly. For example, deficiency of B-complex vitamins and vitamin C may result in impaired immunity and high susceptibility to infections.

Bioactive compounds present in durian fruit enhance liver health and help in detoxification of harmful chemicals and toxins too. They cleanse the body and improve the functionality of the liver. Thus, individuals with liver problems must add this fruit to their diet.

Because durian is a great source of vitamin C, it fights premature aging of the skin and reduces the appearance of signs of aging like wrinkles, dark spots and fine lines.

Other parts of this plant, like root and leaf decoctions, are believed to treat phlegm, relieve colds and treat swelling and jaundice, says research.

Durian contains tryptophan, an amino acid that gets converted to melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep cycle, helps you fall asleep and cures insomnia.

Studies have also reported that durian fruit has antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer and anti-obesity properties. It is also effective against various components of metabolic syndrome. (10)

Who Should Not Eat Durian Fruit?

Individuals With Diarrhea

The high fiber content of this fruit may further cause abdominal discomfort if consumed in excess amount. Durian fruit has a laxative property, thus it helps in relieving constipation. But, in individuals with diarrhea it can do the exact opposite, that is, increase the frequency and volume of stools. Hence, consumption of durian fruit in such cases may not be a good option.

Individuals Who Are Allergic To Durian Fruit

If you have a known allergy or hypersensitivity to Durio zibethinus and other Durio species, strictly stay away from this fruit. Some common symptoms of allergy to durian include:

  • Skin rashes, redness, bumps and hives.
  • Nasal congestion and runny nose.
  • Abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, nausea.
  • Throat discomfort.

Pregnant Women

In some countries, durian fruit is a taboo for pregnant women. It is believed that this fruit may generate heat in the body, which can have adverse effects on the unborn baby. Moreover, there are no studies, which recommend that durian fruit is safe or good for pregnant women. Hence, pregnant women must consult their doctor before eating this fruit or food preparations containing durian fruit.

Durian Wrong Food Combinations

Durian Fruit With Alcohol

It is believed that durian fruit, when consumed with alcohol, can have adverse effects on health. One study found that durian fruit has a hyperthermic effect, therefore, its consumption is prohibited in combination with alcohol, which has similar body-heating properties. Hence, it is believed that such a combination can cause hyperthermia or abnormally high body temperature, which can be life-threatening.

A German botanist in 1741 stated that durian consumed with alcohol can cause indigestion and bad breath. However, other studies have concluded that durian and alcohol intake is harmless and that the fruit may actually inhibit alcohol absorption.

Durian Fruit and Paracetamol

It is also believed that durian should not be consumed with paracetamol due to the risk of toxicity. This is because durian increases body temperature by acting at the hypothalamus in the brain. On the other hand, paracetamol reduces human body temperature inhibiting an enzyme in the brain. (11, 12)

How Much Durian Fruit Should You Eat In A Day?

A healthy individual can consume 80-100 grams of durian fruit in a day. Eating more than this may lead to abdominal discomfort. Individuals with diabetes mellitus must stick to the flesh around 2-3 durian seeds.

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