Breadfruit, with the scientific name Artocarpus atlitis, is popularly known as Ulu in Hawaii. It is one of the versatile food in ancient times, along with taro and coconut.
The bark and wood of the breadfruit tree are lightweight, and it is perfect for building materials. The sap can also be used as a sealant to make the canoes waterproof. This was used by ancient Polynesian voyagers to make a canoe and brought the breadfruit to Hawaii and introduced it as a “canoe plant.”
Breadfruit is closely related to Artocarpus camansi originated from New Guinea, Maluku Islands, and the Philippines. The tree is widely planted in tropical areas. It is also closely related to other tropical fruits such as jackfruit, breadnut, figs, and mulberries. It is one of the most highest-yielding food plants producing hundreds of grapefruit-sized fruits per season. This has hundreds of varieties and thousands of common names depending on its geographic distributions.
According to an etiological Hawaiin myth, breadfruit originated from Ku’ssacrifice, the war of god. He decided to live among mortals and started a family. When a famine seized their land, he left his family to find food and save them from starvation. Day and night, his family kept shedding tears on the same spot until a small green shoot appeared. It grew into a tall and leafy tree that saved Ku’s family and neighbors from starvation.
This is where the famous Hawaiin saying about marriage came from. “Look for the oozing breadfruit’, which means look for the person who will always be able to feed you like what Ku did to his wife and family.
Breadfruit is considered one of the most staple foods and an essential source of significant nutrients and palatable foods. The seeds and the fruit are eaten as foods, while roots, leaves, and latex are used to make medicines.
The fruit pulp is used as a liver tonic and treatment for liver cirrhosis or hypertension by the native people of Indonesia and the Pacific Islands. However, there is little evidence to support these claims.
Breadfruit is an extremely versatile fruit that can be eaten at all developmental stages. Some preferred it as a fruit when consumed ripe and as a vegetable when underripe. This fruit can be consumed by steam, fried, baked, sauteed, or soups and stews. It is starchy, just like potatoes. According to USDA for 1 cup (22og) of raw breadfruit contains the following:
Breadfruit is also a good source of health-boosting vitamins and minerals. It provides 23% potassium of your daily needs, 64mg of Vitamin C, 16% of DV intake of thiamin, 11% DV of Vitamin B6. Other minerals include magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, calcium, iron, phosphorous, and selenium.
There is still no enough evidence to note for the possible side effects of eating breadfruit. However, there is a concern that breadfruit might increase the risk of bleeding. Breadfruit might lower the blood pressure, but people with hypotension must take precautions as this can cause blood pressure to drop to low. Breadfruit might cause allergies to those people who are sensitive to bananas or Benjamin fig.