durian-fruitWith its onion-custard flavor and an odor that resembles rotten gym socks, the durian fruit is perhaps the most notorious fruit of all. While supermarkets are slowly beginning to offer more internationally popular fruits, durian has yet to reach mainstream attention. The “why” isn’t much of a mystery. Along with its horrible smell, this prickly fruit is large, heavy, and unwieldy with its dangerous, spikey outer shell (eye injuries are common during harvesting season).[12] But, regardless of its taste, aroma, or appearance, it is a nutritional powerhouse packed with antioxidants and vitamins. Let’s take a look at a few of the lesser mentioned benefits of durian fruit.

5 Surprising Facts About Durian

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In the realm of acquired tastes, durian is right up there in the “expert level” category. Its odor is distinct and pervasive; some public places in Southeastern Asia even ban durian from the premises due to its lingering, pervasive aroma. Here are some quick facts about durian that you may find interesting:

1. Durian May Warm the Body

In Indian herbalism, durian is considered a warming food and it may have a slight hyperthermic effect on the body, causing the body to feel warmer following consumption.[3] Like many warming spices, including garlic, cinnamon, and cloves, durian contains sulfides and other compounds known for inducing a warming sensation.

2. Durian May Help Ease a Cough

Animal models have shown that durian shell extract is powerful for fighting a stubborn cough.[4] While the mechanism behind this benefit is unknown, researchers believe that the fruit’s analgesic and antibacterial properties may be the main contributors.

3. Durian May Worsen Kidney Disease

Durian is high in potassium, a nutrient necessary for proper nerve and muscle function.[5] Normally this would be a benefit, but individuals with kidney disease need to monitor their potassium levels to keep their condition under control. Therefore, durian should not be consumed by persons with end-stage renal disease or any other type of kidney disease.

4. Durian Fruit is Loaded with Antioxidants

Antioxidants provide a lot of benefits, and to describe all of their benefits in one paragraph is virtually impossible. In a nutshell, antioxidants support healthy aging, protect the heart, reduce DNA and cell mutation, and support brain and skin health. If you’re not bothered by the aroma and the taste of durian, you may want to consider adding it to your diet![6]

5. Durian May Promote Normal Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a rising concern among many Americans today. Despite the nation’s war on fat and dietary cholesterol, high cholesterol and triglycerides (fats in the blood) is a public health epidemic. Durian has been shown to support normal cholesterol levels, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.[7]
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Adding Durian Fruit to Your Diet

Durian can be a healthy addition to your daily diet, one that will give you an extra edge to your well being this new year. Although it’s best not to consume it in a social setting (don’t bring it to work), you should still try it to see whether or not you enjoy its flavor. Look for durian at your local international food market or health food store. While dried durian is available for purchase, you’re best off consuming the whole, fresh form of the fruit for optimum nutrition.

Have you ever tried durian? What was your experience? Leave a comment and share your thoughts with us!
by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References (7)
  1. Reddy SC. Ocular injuries by durian fruit. Int J Ophthalmol. 2012;5(4):530-4. doi: 10.3980/j.issn.2222-3959.2012.04.25.
  2. Aziz S, Asokumaran T, Intan G. Penetrating ocular injury by durian fruit. Med J Malaysia. 2009 Sep;64(3):244-5.
  3. Terada Y, Hosono T, Seki T, et al. Sulphur-containing compounds of durian activate the thermogenesis-inducing receptors TRPA1 and TRPV1. Food Chem. 2014 Aug 15;157:213-20. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.02.031.
  4. Wu MZ, Xie G, Li YX, et al. Cough-relieving, analgesic and antibiotic effects of durian shell extracts: a study in mice. Nan Fang Yi Ke Da Xue Xue Bao. 2010 Apr;30(4):793-7.
  5. Leo CL, Leong WS, Tieh CS, Liew CK. Durian induced hyperkalaemia. Med J Malaysia. 2011 Mar;66(1):66-7.
  6. Leontowicz H, Leontowicz M, Haruenkit R, et al. Durian (Durio zibethinus Murr.) cultivars as nutritional supplementation to rat’s diets. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Feb;46(2):581-9.
  7. Leontowicz M, Leontowicz H, Jastrzebski Z, et al. The nutritional and metabolic indices in rats fed cholesterol-containing diets supplemented with durian at different stages of ripening. Biofactors. 2007;29(2-3):123-36.

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