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The word ackee might not conjure up images of food, but ackee is actually a fruit. In fact, it's the national fruit of Jamaica. Ackee is a vivid red color on the outside, and when ripe, it opens, revealing yellow flesh and three large black seeds. While there are numerous nutritional and health benefits that you'll get from eating ackee, it's not readily available in the United States, and it can be toxic, too. If your interest is piqued about ackee, get all the facts before sampling your first bite.
A 3.5-ounce serving of ackee contains 15.2 grams of fat, of which none of it is saturated fat. Instead, the fruit supplies unsaturated fats, which are a nutritious addition to your healthy eating plan. Getting the bulk of your fat intake in the form of unsaturated fat is a good way to protect the health of your heart, according to MayoClinic.com. Unsaturated fats can also help lower your cholesterol levels, and keeping your cholesterol levels normal is one way to lower your risk of heart disease. Eating mostly unsaturated fat might also help regulate your blood pressure and your blood sugar.
Ackee supplies 2.7 grams of fiber per 3.5-ounce serving. That's about 11 percent of the 25 grams of fiber women need each day and about 7 percent of the 38 grams men require on a daily basis. Fiber encourages your stomach, intestines and colon to work efficiently and that greatly reduces your risk of becoming constipated. Eating plenty of fiber might help you lose weight or maintain your weight, as well as reduce your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Vitamins and Minerals
A 3.5-ounce serving of ackee supplies 30 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 40 percent of the 75 milligrams women need each day and one-third of the 90 milligrams men require on a daily basis. Vitamin C helps repair cartilage and keeps your skin cells healthy. The same portion of ackee also provides 1.1 milligrams of niacin, a B vitamin that's crucial for the function of your central nervous system. That 1.1 milligrams translates to 8 percent of the 14 milligrams women require each day and 7 percent of the 16 milligrams men need on a daily basis. Ackee supplies small amounts of folate, too, which can help prevent birth defects, as well as trace amounts of calcium, iron, riboflavin and thiamin.
Tips and Considerations
Ackee is poisonous when it's consumed before it's fully ripened. Never eat ackee that hasn't opened on its own. You'll know an ackee fruit is safe to eat when it opens by itself. Eating unripe ackee can cause Jamaican vomiting sickness, which can cause severe vomiting and hypoglycemia, according to University of the West Indies Department of Chemistry. If you do get your hands on ripe ackee fruit, it can be eaten plain or it can punch up the flavor of a fruit salad.