Durian Fruit – Smelly, But Also Incredibly Nutritious

Durian fruit is a tropical fruit, mostly used in Southeast Asia. It’s dubbed as “the king of fruits”, thanks to its nutritious content which is one of the highest among all fruits.

On the other hand, this fruit is quite controversial due to its strong smell.

More on Durian Fruit
This tropical fruit is characterized by its spiky, hard outer shell and large size. Its flesh is custard-like and smelly with large seeds. The most common variety of durian is Durio zibethinus. The color of the fruit’s flesh is usually, yellow, golden, or white, but it can as well be green or red.

This fruit is mostly grown in Southeast Asian countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. It can grow up to 30 cm (a foot) long, and 15 cm (6 inches). A normal durian fruit offers about 473 ml (2 cups) of edible pulp.

How to Use
This fruit is used in both, sweet and savory dishes. Its flesh and seeds are both edible, but the seeds must be cooked before used. It tastes like a combination of cheese, garlic, almonds, and caramel. These are the most common durian fruit dishes and food preparations:


  • Angkak, a fermented rice dish
  • Juice
  • Seeds, boiled or roasted
  • Ice cream, candy, and other desserts
  • Sayur, an Indonesian fish soup
  • As a vegetable side dish

This fruit is also used in the traditional medicine, and its medicinal properties are still being studied.

One of the Most Nutritious Fruits You Can Eat
When compared to other fruits, durian is extremely rich in nutrients. This is the nutrient content in 243 grams (a cup) of durian pulp:


  • Calories- 357
  • Carbs- 66 g
  • Fat- 13 g
  • Protein- 4 g
  • Fiber- 9 g
  • Vitamin C- 80% of the RDI
  • Manganese- 39% of the RDI
  • Thiamine- 61% of the RDI
  • Potassium- 30% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6- 38% of the RDI
  • Riboflavin- 29% of the RDI
  • Folate- 22% of the RDI
  • Copper- 25% of the RDI
  • Niacin- 13% of the RDI
  • Magnesium- 18% of the RDI

This impressive nutrient content makes it one of the most nutritious fruits on the Planet. Durian is also high in healthy plant compounds like carotenoids, anthocyanins, flavonoids, and polyphenols. Many of them act as antioxidants.

Durian Fruit Health Benefits
The traditional Malaysian medicine has used durian fruit, roots, husk, and leaves in the treatment of many health conditions, including jaundice, high fever, and skin problems. Several studies suggested that the fruit might offer the following health benefits:


  • Reduces the risk of cancer – The antioxidants it contains might neutralize the free-radicals which promote cancer. One study showed that durian extract prevents the spreading of a strain of breast cancer cells.
  • Prevents heart disease – Few compounds in this fruit can help reduce the levels of cholesterol, and the risk of hardening of the arteries- atherosclerosis.
  • Fights infection – Durian rind offers anti-yeast and antibacterial effects.
  • Reduces blood sugar – Since its glycemic index is lower than that of other tropical fruits, durian can reduce blood sugar spike.  Also, it can prevent absorption of glucose, as well as stimulate release of insulin.

We must mention however that these studies were conducted on animals or in test tubes. Therefore, although promising, durian health benefits should be studied in humans.

Combination with Alcohol Makes Them Potentially Toxic
If you drink alcohol during the consumption of durian fruit, you might face certain health problems.

The sulfur-like compounds in this fruit are considered to prevent break down of alcohol by certain enzymes, leading to raised levels of alcohol in the blood. According to some studies, this can cause vomiting, nausea, and heart palpitations. Therefore, to prevent these health problems, avoid drinking alcohol and eating durian at the same time.

How to Eat It
You need to protect your hands when opening the hard, spiky durian shell by wearing gloves or mitts. The video below shows this, including how to remove and use its flesh. In brief, you should use a knife to cut the shell and then your hands to pry it open. Carefully remove the durian flesh sections, and you can eat it raw, or prepared in various dishes such as with sticky rice.

You can also buy frozen durian flesh, although its texture is a bit different, making it more stringy and looser. Although you can find it in candy or other prepared foods, you won’t gain its health benefits, but just feel a sample of its flavor.

Why Does Durian Smell So Bad?
When it comes to the unique smell of durian, people either love it, or hate it.

Its strong smell has been described as a mix of rotting and roasted onion, sewage, sulfur, honey, and fruit. When analyzing the durian aromatic compounds, it was shown that the fruit has 44 active compounds, including those that contribute to the scents of caramel, skunk, fruit, rotten egg, and soup seasoning.

The smell of durian is so strong, that it has been forbidden in many public transport systems and hotel rooms in Southeast Asia. The impression of durian is individual, depending whether you smell the stinky or the sweet-smelling compound more strongly.

The Bottom Line
The content of this fruit is includes high number of healthy nutrients such as, vitamin C, B-vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, plant compounds, and fiber. Although very healthy, the taste and smell of durian are not for everyone.

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