Durian Nutrition 101

Most durian lovers know someone who knows someone who got sick or even died from eating too much of this ultimate fruit.  So, it is no surprise that many people worry whether indulging in durian is healthy. In fact, concerns about durian's impact on health are numerous and varied, ranging from the development of conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and sore throat, to becoming drunk, or overheated, and even plain ole fat. We will be addressing each of these issues and more in a new series of articles that explore durian's role in health and nutrition. First up is a short overview of durian's basic nutritional properties.


Durian's Macronutrients


Durian is one of the most calorically dense fruits due to its relatively high proportion of fat, as anyone who has savored the creamy chocolate butterscotch flavors of this thick custardy fruit knows. Durian is fatty, and not exactly low in sugars either. As for protein, durian is nearly average among fruits. The chart below gives a breakdown of the fat, carbohydrates, and protein in durian, expressed as a percentage of calories.

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Durian's Vitamin Content


We all know durian has high levels of fat and deliciousness, but how does it measure up for vitamins? Looking at the chart, the first thing we see is that, like many fruits, it contains a significant serving of vitamin C. What may be less obvious is that durian is actually a pretty good source of the B vitamin complex, too. It contains significantly more of the B vitamins than do conventional alternatives like bananas, apples and oranges. Durian is an especially good source of thiamin (B1) and pyridoxine (B6).

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Mineral Content of Durian


Durian is an excellent source of minerals. A durian buffet wouldn't be a great place to get your iron, calcium, or zinc, but you'd have no trouble eating a healthy amount of the other major minerals. Plus, most fruits are low in the aforementioned minerals. Oranges, which are relatively high in calcium, are an exception to this trend, but while oranges are higher in calcium, durian contains more of all other minerals. In the cases of apples and bananas, durian is a better source of every single major mineral(*). Gram for gram, durian even has more potassium than bananas!


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Final Thoughts


Is durian healthy? It's a fruit, so of course! Right? Fruits are widely regarded as a healthy part of a balanced diet, and durian is no exception. Nutritionally, it is a well rounded fruit containing ample amounts of vitamins, minerals, essential fats, and even a modest amount of protein. And for all its silky smoothness, durian even contains 50 percent more fiber than apples.

Sure, durian is high fat and high carb and therefor inescapably high in calories. The 300 gram serving of durian I chose to illustrate its nutritional content definitely contains more calories (441) than an equal serving of most other fruits, but while the lower calorie apples (156), bananas (267), and oranges (147) are decidedly tasty, durian's unique combination of incredible richness and nutrition puts it in another league altogether. What other first class dessert ranks among the world's healthiest foods? Durian is definitely the most nutritious version of cherry covered caramel cheesecake, and the closest thing to it you'll find growing on trees  :)


References:
  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. 2008. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21. Accessed via Nutritiondata.com.
  2. 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.

*The USDA lacks data on durian's content of these nutrients. We can expect that durian contains no B12, but it is not unreasonable to wonder if it may contain some of the fat soluble vitamins, or selenium. Vitamin E data is taken from Durio: A Bibliographic Review. Also of note, red or orange fleshed durian may contain higher levels of vitamin A than those tested by the USDA.


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7 comments:

  1. Thought you guys might be interested in this article today. Just to add to your resource

    http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/12/7/sarawak/12423803&sec=sarawak

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi KS Chin!
    Thanks for sharing! This is fun to read, as we actually heard about this passing through Sibu but I hadn't looked for any articles yet. I'll be writing a post all about this soon. We've actually learned of several more people with pre-existing condition of hypertension who have died this year all over Southeast Asia after consuming durian, but I haven't been able to find any studies about whether or not durian really does elevate blood pressure. Dr. Gladys Wong, Chief Dietician in Singapore, swears there is no correlation. I'll be writing a more in-depth post all about this issue in the coming months.

    Thanks for the comment!

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  3. You would probably have to consult someone with a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective. Since the durian is heat producing when consumed in excess, negative impacts of eating durian can be better understood. Of course the above nutritional information is amazing when considering durian as a food.

    TomB
    Hawaii

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  4. TomB,

    Good idea. I have come across this Chinese Medicine concept of "heatiness" over and over on this trip. I will have to look deeper into it and write up my findings.

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  5. Here is a good idea on how you can avoid it. In Borneo, the locals will drink salt water. Not salt water from the sea but using a pinch of cooking salt and mix it with water then drink it up. There are even fruits that the locals will dip it inside the salt water before consuming. Rambutan is one of it. But not for too long.

    Those type fruits are known to be hot fruits that can bring you down to tummy ache, gastric, fever and sore throat.

    Here is also another great tip of the day if you have yet to know. To get rid of that really bad smell, use the durian inner husk and rub your fingers with it while washing. Fill up the water inside the husk and use it for gargling. And you are all good to go for seconds.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks ngumbang. I have even heard of combining these tactics by putting water and salt into the durian husk and rubbing it around before drinking the solution. I haven't tried it myself as I don't experience any problems from eating lots of durian.

      People also say it is good to eat mangosteen (manggis), the queen of fruit, to cool down after durian.

      Dipping rambutan into salt water is new to me! Interesting. We didn't get to try that out. Maybe next season.

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  6. Hi Rob...great to know that u like durian actually surprised but good...i m sure u r aware that in Malaysia even Indonesia durian is also called the King of Fruits and it is usually eaten with the Queen of Fruits - Mangosteen to bring down the heaty effect of eating durian. When mangosteen is not available, we will drink water that has been poured into the inner husk and swirled around and drink it to counter the heat...I am sure u r aware of that....and do u know that tigers love durian too...they will eat it and nicely placed back the seeds in the husk...some of my cats eat durian and i do wonder if they get heaty...sometimes local here call the position of the durian in the husk "sleeping cat" caused it seems like one...glad both of you appreciates durian like most Asian...

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