Durians: 8 myths and facts about the king of fruits

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Are durians loaded with cholesterol? (Thinkstock photo)

Contrary to popular belief, you will not have a big spike in your cholesterol level after eating a durian. In fact, this king of fruits has good monounsaturated fats that can actually lower your harmful cholesterol levels and moderate your high blood pressure.

But feasting on this highly nutritious fruit will certainly not benefit your waistline. A durian can have anywhere from 885 calories to 1,500 calories depending on its size.

"Durians may be a very good source of nutrients, but they are also high in calories and carbohydrates and thus must be consumed with moderation," says Magdalin Cheong, chief dietitian, Dietetic & Food Services at Changi General Hospital.

Facts about durians

1. Durians can cause weight gain

With an average 1 kg sized durian having close to 1,350 calories, eating one durian can rack up as much as 68 per cent per cent of the daily 2,000 calories recommended for an average adult! One seed durian (about 40 g) has 54 calories.

2. Durians are rich in nutrients

Durians are naturally rich in potassium, dietary fibre, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin B complex. The king of fruits is thus excellent for improving muscle strength and blood pressure, bowel movements and skin health. It also supports the nervous and immune systems, and enhances red blood cell formation.

Related article: 5 super foods for skin

Nutritional composition of one small durian (650g)

Dietitian's Comments
Calories 885
Total fat 34.5g (monounsaturated fats) Red flag: That's nearly 50% of the daily nutritional requirement.
Saturated fat NIL
Cholesterol NIL
Sodium 13mg Low sodium
Total carbohydrates 176 g Red flag: That's nearly 50% of the daily nutritional requirement.
Dietary fibre 24.7g Good. That's 92% of the daily nutritional requirement.
Protein 9.5g
Percentage of daily nutritional requirements
Vitamin C 198%
Potassium 56%
Iron 14%
Vitamin A 5%
Calcium 4%

Related article: Why is eating dietary fibre so important?

3. People with diabetes must limit their durian intake

If you have diabetes and must count your carbs, you cannot feast on durians because of the fruit's high sugar content. Durians contain simple sugars — sucrose, fructose and glucose.

4. Durians are instant energisers

Because of their high carbohydrate content, durians can help replenish low energy levels quickly (in healthy individuals). The fruit's high potassium content can also help reduce fatigue and relieve mental stress and anxiety.

Myths about durians

1. Durians are loaded with cholesterol

Not true. Durians have zero cholesterol and no saturated fats. Cholesterol is found in foods containing saturated fats such as red meats, seafood and dairy products. Durians have heart-healthy monounsaturated fats which help to lower your levels of bad LDL cholesterol.

2. Mangosteens must be eaten with durians to reduce heatiness

According to conventional Chinese wisdom, a mangosteen, being a cooling fruit, will reduce the heatiness associated with durians. However, there is no scientific research to support this. The habit of eating durians and mangosteens together probably stems from the fact that the two fruits are harvested at about the same time.

3. Eating durians and drinking beer at the same time may kill you

There is no scientific evidence to show that this is a lethal combination. It is more likely to cause bloating, indigestion and discomfort as your liver has to work extra hard to metabolise both fats and sugars in the durians and the alcohol, especially if you have consumed both in excessive amounts.

Related link: Nearly 1 in 10 Singaporeans suffers from irritable bowel syndrome

4.  Eating durians can boost your libibo

The heatiness in the durian may cause your body temperature to rise, but this does not make the fruit an aphrodisiac.

Despite the myths associated with the durian, it remains a highly prized fruit.

"The durian is a highly nutritious fruit which, when eaten in moderation, will provide the body with many minerals, vitamins and good fats. Eating two to three seeds of durian at one sitting is sufficient, but because durians can become so addictive, people tend to eat more than they should," says Ms Cheong.

This article was written by Teresa Cheong for Health Xchange, with expert input from Dietetic & Food Services at Changi General Hospital.

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