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The Benefits of Breadfruit: How This Caribbean Crop Can Improve Your Health

Breadfruit chips5

On his recent visit to Trinidad and Tobago for Emancipation Day, Julius Garvey, son of legendary activist Marcus Garvey, emphasized the need to boost agriculture as an effective method for restructuring post-Colonial economies. The younger Garvey also insisted that focusing more on healthy crops would improve sustainability around the world. He spoke to an audience gathered for the trans-Atlantic trade forum, organized by the Emancipation Support Committee.

Garvey, who is Jamaican, stated that “we undervalue ourselves and we don’t take advantage of what we have.” He also noted that the Caribbean has a wealth of foods and a variety of produce that is not available in other parts of the world. He gave the breadfruit as an example. Garvey stated that he grew  up with a breadfruit tree in the backyard, and that the plant is very versatile. Breadfruit can be roasted, fried and boiled, and can even be used to make fries and chips, just like a potato. If the breadfruit were used more in Caribbean countries, the need to import Irish potatoes (which mostly come from Idaho) could be eliminated, Garvey proposed.

Garvey also stated that breadfruit has a number of health benefits. Since it can be ground into flour, breadfruit can be used to make pastries, pastas and breads. This would reduce the need to import wheat, which could save a considerable amount of money. Garvey, who is a vascular surgeon, also stated that breadfruit has a lower glycemic index than wheat, making it beneficial for those who suffer from diabetes and hypertension. Consuming breadfruit is also suitable for those who need to follow a gluten-free diet, can help to reduce heart attacks and strokes and helps to combat obesity.

Garvey reiterated that agriculture played a huge role in the social vision his father had for the world. He encouraged the people of Trinidad and Tobago to “big up” their “agriculture and food industry as a significant area of business development and trade.”

In addition to the financial and more well-known health benefits that Caribbean countries like Trinidad and Tobago would reap from consuming more breadfruit, the plant also supplies the body with considerable energy. Breadfruit contains 60 grams of carbohydrates, making it a favorite among endurance athletes. Breadfruit is also rich in antioxidants, which strengthens the immune system and helps the body fight infections. The fiber in breadfruit is essential for healthy digestion, eating toasted breadfruit is an effective natural remedy for a toothache.

These are just some of the reasons that breadfruit should play a bigger role in the agricultural economy and could be a welcomed addition to kitchens around the world. Breadfruit is sold in the U.S. at most conventional and specialty grocery stores.

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