Are durians heaty or healthy?

As decadent as its creamy flesh tastes, durians do possess some heath benefits.

"Durian contains fibre and antioxidants," says Natalie Goh, a consultant dietitian at Peaches & Pear Nutrition Consultancy.

In fact, a study conducted by the Swiss Society of Food Science and Technology found that when a durian is ripe, it contains higher levels of antioxidants than other Asian fruits of a similar ripeness, such as salak, mangosteen, lychee and mango (in descending order).

But here's why you shouldn't go wild over the tropical favourite: It's a fruit with one of the highest fat content.

"Apart from avocado, durian is a fruit that contains a significant amount of fat," says Natalie. Plus, it can pack up to three times more calories compared to most other fruits. A saving grace: The high-fat content gives it a lower glycaemic index, says Gladys Wong, chief dietitian at Alexandra Hospital.

Durian also contains some protein, but it's nothing to shout about - only around 3g per 100g of flesh, says Natalie. What's more, protein from plant sources is "nutritionally incomplete," she adds, meaning it lacks a balanced set of amino acids that are critical for muscle building.

You don't need a nutritionist to tell you that drinking water from a durian shell does nothing for you. However, eating the fruit can indeed induce a feeling of "heatiness."

Our metabolism increases during digestion of the fruit, says Natalie, thus there may be occasional instances of a slight increase in body temperature. This is partly because durian is so dense in calories, demanding greater digestive effort.

But other myths are groundless, she notes, with studies reporting "no basis for any ill effects." So go ahead and chug a beer or coffee when you eat the fruit - if you dare.

But apart from potential damage to your health, there's also what it might do to your wallet.

According to reports in The Straits Times, even durians have taken a hit from the heat wave earlier this year. Durian lovers will be disappointed to learn that the supply of the King of Fruits is expected to drop by up to 40 per cent due to the hot weather.

Bao Sheng Durian Farm owner Chang Zhi Vooi said the prolonged heat wave had badly affected durian trees. "Due to the hot weather, the trees are not getting enough water and we have to water them everyday," he says.

However, a small consolation: He pointed out that the durian season this year could be longer, as new flowers are still blooming.

"This year, we can expect durians until the end of July. However, it will be a smaller harvest compared to last year. A tree can produce more than 200 fruits, but this year, we may get only about 100 plus," he says.

Also see: Experts dedunk 5 commonly-held beliefs about durians


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