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Durian: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more


As children, when we went to the market with our mother to buy fruits and many of us were fascinated looking at the large spiky fruit. That fruit is none other than the king of fruits, the durian. The scientific name of durian is Durio zibethinus and belongs to the family Bombaceae. It is an exotic seasonal tropical fruit known for its unique taste and aroma. The word ‘durian’ is derived from the Malay word ‘Duri’, which signifies the thorns of the fruit. Durian has more than 200 varieties with distinct aromas, textures, and flavours. Durian is abundantly grown in Malaysia. It is also found in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Madagascar, Hawaii, and Florida.1 Let us look at some of the durian health benefits. 

durian fruit benefits

Nutritional Value of Durian: 

Durian may contain bioactive compounds like fatty acids, polyphenols, flavonoids, quercetin, apigenin, flavonols, anthocyanin, gallic acid, carotenoids, lutein, tannins, and ascorbic acid. Durian may have a high amount of energy compared to other tropical fruits.2 Additionally, durian may contain the following nutritional components: 

Nutritional Component Value 
Energy 147 kcal 
Water 65 g 
Fat 5.33 g 
Fibre 3.8 g 
Carbohydrate 27.1 g 
Protein 1.47 g 
Magnesium 30 mg 
Potassium 436 mg 
Calcium 6 mg 
Phosphorus 39 mg 
Iron 0.43 mg 
Vitamin C 19.7 mg 
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) 0.374 mg 
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.2 mg 
Vitamin B3 (niacin) 1.07 mg 
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 0.23 mg 
Vitamin B6 0.316 mg 
Vitamin B9 (folate) 36 µg 
Vitamin A 2 µg 

Table 1: Nutritional Components of Durian3 

Properties of Durian: 

Several studies have shown that durian may have the following properties: 

  • It may be an antioxidant 
  • It may lower blood sugar level 
  • It may have anticancer activity 
  • It may enhance digestion  
  • It may relieve diarrhoea  
  • It may lower the bad cholesterol levels  
  • It may have anti-malarial properties  
  • It may lower fever  
  • It may boost the immune system 1 

Based on my observations, the traditional uses suggest that durian fruit may have valuable health-promoting qualities. It is commonly associated with benefits such as immune system enhancement and promoting wound healing. However, further scientific study is required to back up such claims.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Potential Uses of Durian for Overall Health: 

1. Potential use of durian as an antioxidant 

Durian may possess antioxidant properties due to the presence of bioactive compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids. Durian may show its antioxidant potential by deactivating harmful free radicals. Free radicals are atoms that damage the cells to cause diseases.1,2 However, further studies are required to check if durian can help to manage oxidative stress in the human body. 

2. Potential use of durian for diabetes 

Durian may have a low glycemic index when compared to other tropical fruits. The glycemic index is a value to measure how much a particular food raises the blood sugar level. The fibres present in durian may slow down digestion, slow down the conversion of carbohydrates to glucose and may help in lowering the glycemic index of the food.2 However, further studies are required to check the effect of durian on humans. You must consult your doctor in case of abnormal sugar levels. Do not self-medicate.  

3. Potential use of durian for lowering cholesterol 

A study conducted on rats by Haurenkit et al. in 2007 showed a possible decrease in bad cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).2,4 Additionally, esters like methyl propionate, ethyl propionate and propyl propionate may inhibit cholesterol synthesis. Further investigation is required to check the effect of durian on humans.2 However, you must check your cholesterol levels regularly and contact your doctor in case of high cholesterol levels. 

4. Potential use of durian for cancer 

Bioactive compounds like polyphenols present in durian may be beneficial for cancer due to their ability to relieve oxidative stress. In addition, these polyphenols may inhibit growth and kill cancer cells.2 A study by Jayakumar et al. showed that durian might show its anti-proliferative effect (inhibit breast cancer cells) due to the presence of polyphenols.5 However, further studies are yet to be done on humans to check the effect of durian on humans. Therefore, you must seek medical help if you are diagnosed with cancer instead of self-medicating. 

5. Potential use of durian to enhance digestion 

Durian may contain fibres which are beneficial for proper digestion. The fibre in durian is insoluble and it may help to control diarrhoea. Additionally, the fibres in durian may stimulate the peristaltic movement and the secretion of various enzymes required for digestion.1 More studies are needed to check whether durian can help to enhance digestion. However, you must consult your doctor if you have any symptoms of digestive disorders. 

6. Potential use of durian for malaria and jaundice 

The leaves and roots of durian may be used in case of malaria. It may lower the temperature of the body due to its antipyretic effect. Further, durian may relieve cold, jaundice and phlegm (mucous).1 However, more research is needed to check if durian may be beneficial for malaria and jaundice. Therefore, you must consult your doctor if you have malaria or jaundice instead of self-medicating. 

Though studies show the benefits of durian in various conditions, these are insufficient, and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of durian on human health. 

From what I have seen over the years, durian fruit might be helpful for people who have difficulty sleeping. Thus, it may have potential benefits for individuals experiencing insomnia.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

How to Use Durian? 

Various parts of durian fruit can be consumed in the following way: 

  • Durian pulp can be eaten fresh or as a part of a dish. 
  • Tempoyak is made from durian fruit by fermentation. It can be eaten on its own or used as a flavour in various dishes. 
  • Lempok and dodol are other durian pulp-based products popularly eaten in South Asian countries. 
  • Milkshakes, toffees, candies, jams, and ice creams are also made from durian. 
  • Unripe flesh of durian can be used to prepare vegetables and soup.1 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking durian in large quantities or any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. 

Side Effects of Durian: 

The side effects of durian may be as follows: 

  • The side effect of durian is hyperkalaemia. Hyperkalaemia is a condition caused due to high intake of potassium.7 
  • Durian may cause allergic reactions, leading to anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions in the body).8 
  • Durian may cause urticaria (itchy skin), nasal congestion, rhinorrhea (runny nose), hoarseness and vomiting. 8 

You must immediately consult your doctor if you experience any side effects after consuming durian. 

Precautions to Take with Durian: 

The following precautions must be taken before consuming durian: 

  • People with impaired kidney function must take adequate precautions as intake of durian may lead to accumulation of potassium in the body (hyperkalaemia)7 
  • Pregnant and lactating mothers shall take precautions before consuming durian.9 

It is advised to consult your doctor before consuming durian if you have any pre-existing diseases. 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Durian may interact with the following drugs: 

  • Durian may interact with Paracetamol. It may reduce blood pressure and induce toxicity. 
  • Durian may also react with alcohol by inhibiting its absorption in the body. 10 

You must consult your doctor before consuming durian if you are undergoing medical treatment. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What are durian fruit benefits? 

Durian may act against diseases like diabetes, cancer, malaria, and jaundice. It may also improve digestion and reduce cholesterol levels.1,2,4,5,6 However, you must consult your doctor if you are diagnosed with any disease instead of self-medicating. 

2) What are the side effects of eating too much durian? 

Durian may cause hyperkalaemia and allergic reactions, leading to anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions in the body).7,8 It may also cause urticaria (itchy skin), nasal congestion, rhinorrhea (runny nose), hoarseness and vomiting. 8 You must consult your doctor if you experience any side effects. 

3) What is the nutritional value of durian? 

Durian may contain bioactive compounds like fatty acids, polyphenols, flavonoids, quercitin, apigenin, anthocyanin, gallic acid, carotenoids, lutein, tannins, and ascorbic acid.2 It may contain carbohydrates, fibres, proteins, vitamins, and fats. It may also contain minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, and iron.3 

4) What are durian benefits for diabetes? 

Durian may have a low glycemic index when compared to other tropical fruits. The flavonoids, polyphenols and dietary fibres present may lower blood sugar levels. You must consult your doctor in case of abnormal sugar levels. 1,2 

5) Which drugs interact with durian? 

Paracetamol and alcohol may interact with durian. When durian reacts with paracetamol, blood pressure may be reduced. Durian may inhibit the absorption of alcohol.10 


  1. Ali MM, Hashim N, Abd Aziz S, Lasekan O. Exploring the chemical composition, emerging applications, potential uses, and health benefits of durian: A review. Food Control. 2020 Jul 1;113:107189. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713520301055 
  1. A Aziz NA, Mhd Jalil AM. Bioactive compounds, nutritional value, and potential health benefits of indigenous durian (Durio Zibethinus Murr.): A review. Foods. 2019 Mar 13;8(3):96. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/426932 
  1. Basil, raw or frozen [Internet]. FoodData Central. [cited 2022 Oct04]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168192/nutrients 
  1. Haruenkit R, Poovarodom S, Leontowicz H, Leontowicz M, Sajewicz M, Kowalska T, Delgado-Licon E, Rocha-Guzmán NE, Gallegos-Infante JA, Trakhtenberg S, Gorinstein S. Comparative study of health properties and nutritional value of durian, mangosteen, and snake fruit: experiments in vitro and in vivo. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2007 Jul 11;55(14):5842-9. Available from: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf070475a 
  1. Jayakumar R, Kanthimathi MS. Inhibitory effects of fruit extracts on nitric oxide-induced proliferation in MCF-7 cells. Food chemistry. 2011 Jun 1;126(3):956-60. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814610015116 
  1. Khalil ES, Abd Manap MY, Mustafa S, Alhelli AM, Shokryazdan P. Probiotic properties of exopolysaccharide-producing Lactobacillus strains isolated from tempoyak. Molecules. 2018 Feb 13;23(2):398. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/263344 
  1. Payus AO, Ahmedy F, Syed Abdul Rahim SS, Sumpat D. An uncommon side effect from the ‘king of fruit’: A case report on life-threatening hyperkalaemia after eating durian fruit. SAGE Open Medical Case Reports. 2021 Dec;9:2050313X211063195. Available from: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2050313X211063195 
  1. Olivieri J, Quiliquini-Chambard AM, Hauser C. Allergy to durian. Allergy. 2002 Mar;57(3):263. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11906346/ 
  1. Rusdi MS, Efendi MR, Hilma H. Teratogenic Effects of Durian Fruit (Durio Zibethinus Linn) on White Mice Fetus (Mus musculus L). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mesa-Rusdi-2/publication/351108081_Teratogenic_Effects_of_Durian_Fruit_Durio_Zibethinus_Linn_on_White_Mice_Fetus_Mus_musculus_L/links/6087d099907dcf667bc73e02/Teratogenic-Effects-of-Durian-Fruit-Durio-Zibethinus-Linn-on-White-Mice-Fetus-Mus-musculus-L.pdf 
  1. Chua YA, Nurhaslina H, Gan SH. Hyperthermic effects of Durio zibethinus and its interaction with paracetamol. Methods and findings in experimental and clinical pharmacology. 2008 Dec 1;30(10):739. Available from: https://www.academia.edu/download/47804436/Hyperthermic_effect_of_Durio_ziberthinus_Chua_et_al.pdf 

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