Jackfruit, when ripe is one of the sweetest fruits. But raw jackfruit has emerged as a defence against diabetes. According to a study, presented at the American Diabetes Association annual conference in Chicago via video link on Saturday, it brings down plasma glucose levels.
James Joseph, 49, engineer-turned-entrepreneur, had been doing the research for some time. For the research Joseph joined hands with two medical professionals attached to the Government Medical College at Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh.
After getting clearance from the Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR), he conducted the trial and the test group included 40 people -- 24 men and 16 women -- with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Their mean age was 46.20 +/- 9.12 years.
During the study, participants were given green jackfruit flour meal. Their mean HbA1c at baseline was 7.23 =/- 0.47 per cent. At end of 12-week study, the mean HbA1c was 6.98 +/- 0.48 per cent. "Fasting and postprandial plasma glucose levels also showed similar improvements in participants," said Joseph.
The hemoglobin A1c test tells one about the average level of blood sugar over the past two-three months. Also called HbA1c, glycated hemoglobin test, and glycohemoglobin, people with diabetes take the test regularly to see if the levels are within the range. It helps adjust diabetes medicines. The A1c test is also used to diagnose diabetes.
Speaking to IANS, Joseph said it was in 2015 that he started to unravel the green jackfruit's properties. "In 2016, I floated my company, God's Own Food Solutions, to do the research and explored jackfruit's properties. In 2016, along with ME Meeran Foundation - one of the largest spice exporters in the country, he set up a joint venture - Diet Fibre 365 company," said Joseph.
The JV manufactures green jackfruit flour. It has been patented in India and the US patent was in its final stages, claimed Joseph. The company markets green jackfruit flour in packets of 200 gram.
Joseph, who worked with Microsoft in the UK and Bengaluru, quit in 2012 and since 2014 is focusing on the properties of jackfruit. He attributes his study to a chance meeting with former President APJ Abdul Kalam on November 25, 2014.
Terming it s wonder product, Joseph said when integrated with local food, it proved to have done wonders. When 30 grams a day was introduced in the daily menu, most diabetics showed significant reduction in blood sugar levels.
This green jackfruit powder could be added to the flour mix of idli, dosa and in making flour breads, he added.
Believed to have originated in the southwestern rain forests in the country, the word jackfruit comes from Portuguese jaca, which in turn, is derived from the Malayalam word, chakka. The jackfruit trees are in abundance in the state.
The study -- 'A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the glucose lowering effect of jackfruit365 green jackfruit flour in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients' -- has been co-authored by medical professionals A. Gopal Rao and Sunil Nayak. It has been published in the latest issue of the journal Diabetes of the American Diabetes Association.
Mohandas Pai, Chairman of the Board of Manipal Global, said he had been taking a spoon of it in his breakfast porridge and in green tea after dinner daily for the past two years. "It has definitely helped in controlling my blood sugar levels," said Pai.
Another man, 60, said he was taking 90 units of insulin to control his blood sugar for five years. "For the past two years I started adding a tablespoon of this to my breakfast, lunch and dinner. In one year I could discontinue insulin and control my sugar levels with just tablets.
"This saved me money, pain and embarrassment when having food outside," he said.