Here comes the rain again, and with it the sweet smell of rotting rubbish emanating from the market - yes, it's the beginning of durian sea son. For connoisseurs of this challenging fruit, there is nothing like biting into the ripe flesh of a fresh, creamy-yellow lobe, straight out of the prickly shell. The flavour of durian is a perennial treat in Asia - traditionally in the form of dodol (a sort of Southeast Asian toffee) and tempoyak (fermented durian paste, eaten with rice or used in curries), or tempered with coconut milk and sticky rice in an almost year-round dish at any Honeymoon Dessert outlet. More recently, we've seen it diversify internationally into ice creams, crisps, health drinks and even toothpaste and condoms. Despite the pervasive health and beauty lore surrounding the fruit - it is believed by different cultures to be an aphrodisiac, a vermifuge (purges internal parasites), anti-ageing and anti-carcinogenic - the durian has recently come under the microscope of science and nutrition. The organosulfur compounds in durian, which lend to the fruit's unique olfactory notes, have been credited as being anti-carcinogenic. While the hypothesis has not been disproved, among the many groups of sulfur compounds found in plants, only those occurring in the allium family of garlic, onions, leeks and chives have been extensively studied - with encouraging results - for their health benefits, including protection against oxidative damage that leads to cancer. However, the other type of compounds that the durian has in spades - polyphenols quercetin and caffeic acid - 'were the main contributors to the overall antioxidant capacity', according to a study put forth by the Swiss Society of Food Science and Technology. In Vegetable, Fruits and Herbs in Health Promotion, edited by biochemist Dr Ronald Ross Watson, quercetin is named as a 'highly powerful scavenger of and inhibitor of carcinogenesis'. In a comparison between three sub-species within the durio family, by King Mongjut's Institute of Technology in Bangkok, the Mon Thong variety - the kind you will most likely find in Hong Kong - trumped the others for its antioxidant properties. One hundred grams of fresh durian (less than half a cup) gives you 147 calories of energy, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 1.5 grams of protein, 3.8 grams of dietary fibre - which, while it may not necessarily de-worm you, helps keep the bowel movements regular. Durian is also a good source of potassium, which the body uses to maintain pH and water balance and blood pressure, and vitamin B9 (or folate), which is essential for the production of healthy red blood cells. It's time to hold your nose, put on some heavy gloves and head out to the market.