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December 31, 2014

Durian. The King of Fruits

I like to consider myself adventurous when it comes to finding unusual and exciting health-promoting foods to eat. So when the holidays aprroached and my son asked what I would like as a gift, my ususal answer would have been chocolate, preferably raw and dark. But being that he works in the Chinatown area, I asked if he would surprise me with one of those unusal looking fruits that the supermarkets sell down there. 

I basically have no idea what they are named and even less of an idea what they taste like. But I figured if it’s fruit, it couldn’t be so bad. 

Well this is what he brought me: a durian, also named the King of Fruits.  


Photo credit Creative Commons:  Hafiz Issadeen

It is about the size of a large cantaloupe and has these very pointy sharp spikes on it.  Sort of like an armadillo without legs. (Best to wear a glove when handling, as the pokey spikes can be quite painful when touched.) My son said it came with a warning of smelling horrible when opened and the taste could be questionable. 

Not one to shy away from a food challenge, I went online and did my research.   Durian is native to Malaysia and Indonesia and remains a divisive figure in the world of food. It is actually banned on Singapore subways solely for its smell. It’s the kind of food that you either hate or you love. No in-betweens.

Health wise, it is highly full of minerals, antioxidants and fat. Lots and lots of fat.  Actually, it can make the avocado seem like a low-fat food by comparison. 

After watching a few videos on durian, I put a slice through the outside rind and pulled the fruit into sections. Smell? Not bad, maybe a little like dirty socks. Taste? Would you believe creamy sauteed onions in a butter-cream cheese spread? If I had a bagel handy, I would have smeared it on and made a meal. 

I gave a small taste to other family members, and the general consensus was that it was pretty tasty. No one objected to the smell or flavor. Actually, we all thought it was so good, that we are already planning to buy another one soon.

Benefits of Durian:
§  high in energy, minerals and vitamins. 100 g (1/4 pound) fresh fruit carry 147 calories
§  the fruit is made of soft, easily digestible flesh composed of simple sugars like fructose and sucrose that when eaten replenishes energy and revitalizes the body instantly
§  contains a relatively high amount of fats among the fruits but is free from saturated fats and cholesterol
§  rich in dietary fiber; it helps bind and eliminate cancer-causing chemicals from the gut
§  is a good source of antioxidant Vitamin C (helps develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals)
§  is an excellent source of B-complex vitamins; a rare feature among fruits
§  it contains a good amount of minerals like manganese, copper, iron and magnesium
§  is a very rich source of potassium,  an important electrolyte inside cells and body fluids that help control  heart rate and blood pressure
§  it contains high levels of the essential amino acid, tryptophan;  plays a vital role in sleep induction and controlling epileptic events

As you can see, the durian is a highly nutritious fruit which, when eaten in moderation, will provide the body with many minerals, vitamins and good fats. Eating two to three seeds of durian at one sitting is sufficient, but because durians can become so addictive, people tend to eat more than they should. I know I have.

So if you are looking to add a little adventure to your already healthy diet, durian may be worth investigating. It definitely is now one of my go-to fun foods. Give it a try and see if you like it as well. 

If you like this post, you may also like The Benefits of Raw Chocolate

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