Durians: Are they fattening, do they cause diabetes, and other nutrition facts about the “King of fruits”

Durians: Are they fattening, do they cause diabetes, and other nutrition facts about the “King of fruits”

Durian: the “King of fruits” and one loved by many Singaporeans. I’ve come across too many clients who say they don’t like fruits, but will devour durians when the season comes around. Are durians really fattening? Do they cause diabetes? Are they bad for your cholesterol? What are they made of exactly, and…are they really that bad? Read on, so you know what you’re actually putting into your mouth this durian season.

sugar, fat, and calorie equivalents in durian

1. Durians are fruits, and contain sugar just like any other fruit

Before you jump to conclusions, I would like to clarify that sugar is not evil per se. However, when consumed in excess, it becomes a problem. The upper limit for sugar consumption is placed at 10 teaspoons (or 10 sugar cubes) a day [3]. Note that this refers to free sugar (such as added sugar, honey, syrup, and fruit juices), and not to fruits (including durian). However, the sugar cube equivalents in the picture above highlights the high sugar content in durian. Excessive calories, whether from durian, or from any other fruit, food or beverage, increases risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease [4]. The point is not to avoid durian, but to avoid excessive consumption of durian.

2. Durians do not contain cholesterol

The good news, contrary to popular belief, is that foods like durians, peanuts, and coconuts, do not contain cholesterol. This is because only animal products contain cholesterol. Therefore, these foods are technically cholesterol-free! But don’t rejoice yet, go ahead and read the next point.

If you want to find out how to reduce your cholesterol levels, read this post for 5 scientifically proven foods that do it.

3. However, durians have a high fat content

durian flesh creamy and high in fat

At about 30% fat, durians are one of the few fruits that contain so much fat. Granted, some of the fat in durian are healthy monounsaturated fat. However, because fat is energy dense, it is easy to consume a large amount of calories from just a small serving of durian. Therefore, even though durians are cholesterol free, excessive consumption of calories from the fat and sugar in it can increase triglycerides and body weight. This in turn increases risk of the chronic diseases discussed earlier [5].

4. Durians contain some fibre

For those of you who are hopeful that durians provide benefit in the form of fibre, I hate to break it to you that at 3.8g per 100g of pure durian pulp, it is barely considered a high fibre food.

Want more fibre? Read this article for ways to instantly get more fibre in your diet.

5. Durians are rich in potassium and B vitamins

Like fibre, durians do contain some nutrients, and these characteristics prevent them from being a source of empty calories (calories that don’t give you any nutrients). However, there are definitely many other ways to obtain these nutrients in our daily lives without the calories that come with durian.

durian season: fat content, does it cause diabetes, things you should know

I love making lists for you guys but I’m not going to elaborate on this one. Everyone knows durians are high in calories, fat and sugar. Yet we all know that durian is, I must say, one of the tastiest fruit ever. Personally, I enjoy durian very much and don’t often think of it as fruit (but it most definitely is), I normally enjoy it like dessert. It is so delicious that even our golden retriever, Ollie, loves it:

If you liked that, check out more of his antics here!

Bottomline for this durian season

Go forth and enjoy your durian, but because they’re really easy to overeat (I know), go slow and savour every mouthful. I talk about how to savour your food to make the experience last here. I would advise you as I do my clients: “Take it easy…there’s going to be durian available season after season.” It’s not the end of the world, there’s really no need to have them all at one go. Just have two to three seeds at a time and store the rest in the freezer. When they’re defrosted, they taste almost just as good. This way, you can enjoy them even after durian season is over and everyone’s craving for them!

Disclaimer: Durian is not equivalent in nutrient content to wonton noodles. The illustration merely highlights that a 600g durian contains an equivalent amount of calories to 1.7 bowls of wonton noodles, to help put into perspective how energy dense it is.

References:

  1. USDA food composition databases. [document on the Internet]. United States Department of Agriculture; no date [cited 2019 April 17]. Available from: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/
  2. Energy and nutrient composition of food. [document on the Internet]. Health Promotion Board; 2011 March 14 [cited 2019 May 7]. Available from: https://focos.hpb.gov.sg/eservices/ENCF/foodsearch.aspx
  3. Sugars intake for adults and children. [document on the Internet]. World Health Organisation; 2015 [cited 2019 May 7]. Available from: https://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/guidelines/sugars_intake/en/
  4. Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases. Report of the joint WHO/FAO expert consultation. [document on the internet]. World Health Organisation; no date [cited 2019 May 7]. Available from: https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/publications/trs916/summary/en/
  5. High blood triglycerides. [document on the internet]. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; no date [cited 2019 May 7]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/high-blood-triglycerides
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