The durian is known as the ‘King of Fruits’ in Malaysia, and it is a truly special one. The thorny exterior when removed reveals a creamy and extremely pungent fruit which you will either love or hate – there’s no middle ground. The smell of the durian fruit is one that lingers, so much so that it is banned from hotels and public transportation in some countries!
This extremely popular fruit though is not without its controversy. Although fruits are generally thought to be healthy, the durian is one that people have been told to consume with caution as too much may have adverse effects. The Chinese for example believe that the durian is a heaty fruit and eating too much of it may result in a sore throat or a fever.
So, is the durian really a fruit that one should be wary of? Let’s take a closer look at this magnificent fruit.
Is it a nutritious fruit?
Yes. Durians are packed with nutrients which include vitamin B – which is great for energy production, vitamin C, potassium and they also contain some phyto-nutrients such as carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin (refer to table below).
Is it true that it can cause constipation?
The durian is an excellent source of fibre which makes it a good bulk laxative, so it’s a good choice for those who suffer from constipation. The fibre content helps protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time to toxins. It also helps to bind and eliminate cancer-causing chemicals from the gut. A daily intake of 25 to 38 grams of fibre in your diet every day should help ward off constipation. A serving of durian (2 seeds) contributes a significant amount of fibre to your eating plan: 8 grams, which is about 20-25% of the recommended daily intake (RDI).
Are durians rich in minerals?
They’re great sources of magnesium, potassium,manganese, and copper, all of which play integral roles in developing and sustaining bone strength and durability. Potassium also increases the efficiency of nutrient uptake by the cells, so it maximises how many beneficial minerals the body takes in - also benefiting bone health. These essential minerals help to prevent the development of osteoporosis at any age!
Can consuming durians help to combat ageing?
Durian is a good source of the antioxidant, vitamin C (about 33% of RDI) and vitamin B. We all know that consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the human body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals.
Can durians help to boost your energy levels?
They are excellent sources of health-benefiting B-complex groups of vitamins; a rare feature for a fruit, such as niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1). These vitamins are essential to the body for energy production.
Are durians rich in fat?
Yes, but it’s the good kind of fat! The fat content is about three times that of most other fruit, with the exception of avocado. However, they are generally healthy fat (monounsaturated fat) that is good for your heart and your skin, unlike the dangerous fat typically found in red meat.
Are durians high in cholesterol?
Not at all! A high fat content doesn’t necessarily mean bad cholesterol too. In fact, as a plant-based food, durian has zero cholesterol, and you don’t have to worry about your blood pressure if you consume too much of it.
Are durians high in calories which could lead to weight gain?
YES. If you are concerned about calories, durian might not be the best choice of fruit for you. With an average 1kg sized durian (1 whole durian) having close to 1,350 calories, eating one durian can rack up as much as 68 percent of the daily 2,000 calories recommended for an average adult! One seed of durian (about 40g) has 54 calories, so a moderate intake of durian would be about 2 seeds a day. However, durian is pretty addictive and most of the time, it’s hard to stop at just 2 seeds! So our advice is to be mindful and keep your calorie intake in mind if you plan on having durian after your meal.
Can diabetics have durian?
Durian is rich in natural sugars and eating large amounts will cause your blood glucose level to rise. Two seeds of durian contain between 20-30g of carbohydrates (depending on the size), which is equivalent to about one bowl of white rice. This is why diabetecs either have to avoid the fruit altogether or eat it in low quantities (1-2 seeds each time), depending on the individual’s condition and their health professional's recommendations.
Can durians cause ‘heatiness’, fever and cough if you overindulge?
The link between heatiness and symptoms of fever and cough is likely to be a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) concept. From the nutrition point of view, durian can indeed induce a feeling of ‘heatiness’, as it is very dense in calories and fat, and our bodies will then need to increase our metabolism to digest and break it down, and that demands greater digestive effort. This will result in a slight increase in our body temperature. Some people also find that eating too much durian can cause indigestion and bloating. So our advice is to always drink water with some salt after eating durian, as water is always good for you.
So is the durian a healthy fruit or should it be relegated to the category of ‘treats’ – only to be consumed on special occasions?
Our take? It is a great fruit and an excellent source of essential nutrients, but like almost everything else, consume in moderation.
The table below gives a more detailed breakdown of the nutritional content of the King of Fruits.
Durian fruit (latin name: Durio zibethinus)
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)