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Clinic prescribes a dose of jackfruit for good health

KOCHI: While jackfruit has caught the fancy of entrepreneurs of late, the time may well have arrived for it to take centre stage. From being extolled as a ‘health’ food, the giant fruit has now made the step up to a prescribed ‘medicine’.

In a move that could catapult raw jackfruit to the dining tables of the health-conscious and diabetic patients, Delhi-based naturopathy and wellness clinic Swami Parmanand Prakritik Chikitsalaya (SSPC) has started prescribing raw jackfruit-based food for its well-known customers.

“We were looking for a grain-free diet for our customers,” Dr Jayachandran Thampi, chief medical officer at SSPC, told Express.

“We came across a ready-to-use jackfruit product that can be powdered and used as flour to make chapattis. Ours is a holistic health centre, focusing on Ayurveda and naturopathy for our customers. Raw jackfruit-based food, after mixing flour to make roti, has become a part of the diet at our centre. I’m extremely happy with the results.”

The ready-to-use raw jackfruit bulb that Thampi is referring to, is a product from Kochi-based Jackfruit365, founded by James Joseph. The latter understood the potential of jackfruit and even quit a high-paying job at Microsoft to set up the company.

“I consider the move by SSPC as a significant step to create awareness on the benefits of eating raw jackfruit in major cities and across hospitals and naturopathy centres,” said Joseph. ‘Jackfruit365’ may be the only organised player selling freeze-dried jackfruits through retail stores and e-commerce sites such as Amazon.

The big challenge is to make jackfruit easily available in the market and ensuring it is lucrative for farmers. A study conducted recently by SB College Institute of Management, Changanassery found 80 per cent of the people eat jackfruit in raw form, and 60 per cent source the jackfruit from their backyards or from the neighbours. Only 16 per cent buy it.

“If every other vegetable has a market price, why can’t jackfruit be worth paying the price?” Joseph asked.
Thampi of SSPC said spreading awareness on the benefits of raw jackfruit could create demand for the health-product. “Hospital canteens are important centres that can help people understand and give importance to a health product. Endorsements from relevant personalities are always a boost. Diabetologists, endocrinologists and dieticians are professional groups who can bring in this awareness,” he said.

The doctor said jackfruit was a good alternative to a grain-based diet. “Already many centres are using alternative grains (ragi/bajra) and quinoa seeds).”

According to Thampi, people get a ‘psychological’ comfort with eating food items they are familiar with. “So, roti using jackfruit powder instead of wheat or maida is a good alternative and a practical solution.”

In metros like Delhi, avenues to spread awareness are high at general health stores, health super markets, hospitals and clinics.

“Initially, hospital canteens, diet centres and pharmacies are good choices. Reputed institutions like AIIMS are potential avenues as well,” he said.

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