Lychee is a round, juicy summer fruit that has translucent to white flesh and pinkish outer skin. It enhances the taste of cocktails and flavorful cuisine. Apart from eating fresh lychee fruits raw, you can also eat the dried lychee and the one preserved as tinned syrups. In Chinese cuisine, lychees go in fish and meat-based dishes. Furthermore, this seasonal fruit is a summer staple that can keep you energised and hydrated.
Today, global and local markets focus on including superfoods in their aisle. Superfood is a claim for those foods with high nutrient density and minimal or healthy calories. For example, lychee, scientifically termed Litchi Chinensis, is a tropical fruit native to South-East Asia, Taiwan, and China. Alternatively, people also spell it as litchi. Of the hundreds of superfoods promoted, lychee qualifies as one of the best due to its rich vitamin, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory compound content.
Sometimes people confuse lychees with rambutan. However, these two tropical fruits have differences despite being referred to as cousins. Lychee has a grape-like or floral taste, whereas rambutan is creamier and has a hint of sourness. They both have white flesh, but rambutan has hair-like prongs on its outer skin. On the other hand, lychee is a little smaller than rambutan. Nonetheless, both have similar profiles in minerals, vitamins, fibre, sugar, and antioxidants.
Nutritional Value of Lychee
100 grams of fresh lychees contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 66 kcals
- Protein: 0.83 g
- Fat: 0.44 g
- Fibre: 1.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 16.5 g
Vitamins and Minerals
Lychee also contains fair amounts of micro-nutrients.
- Potassium: 171 mg
- Vitamin C: 71.5 mg
- Phosphorus: 31 g
- Magnesium: 10 mg
- Iron: 0.31 mg
- Zinc: 0.07 mg
- Selenium: 0.6 µg
- Calcium: 5 mg
Lychee: Nutritional Facts
1. Good Source of Copper
Lychee offers a decent amount of copper. It contains nearly 16% of Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for copper.
2. Reduces Risk of Cancer
The lychee pericarp is rich in a flavonoid called epicatechin. It is a plant-based antioxidant that may reduce cancer risk.
3. Great Antioxidant
Lychee fruits supply rutin, a flavonoid glycoside. It acts as an antioxidant and may protect against chronic diseases such as heart problems.
4. Good for Skin
Lychee extract or lychee skin is a good source of oligonol. It is a polyphenol with low molecular weight. Therefore, most lychee-infused dietary supplements contain oligonol to improve their antioxidant properties.
Health Benefits of Lychee
1. Weight Loss Benefits
Lychees contain dietary fibre, antioxidants, and water. They have a minimal amount of calories and trace amounts of fat. Studies suggest that dietary fibre in lychees may help in weight loss. In addition, eating lychees may regulate bowel movements and improve digestion. Lychees have a sweet, aromatic taste, making them a healthier alternative to sugary snacks.
Constipation can be one of the roadblocks in your weight loss journey. Lychee fruit can help you with this problem. Lychee is a good source of fibre that shows a laxative effect by adding bulk to the stools and ensuring its smooth passage. Last but not least, you may feel more energised after eating lychees due to their blood pressure regulation ability. Remember that a person with sufficient energy finds it easier to do physical exercises, promoting weight loss.
2. Lychee Beneficial for Skin Health
Lychee juice is an outstanding source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, oligonol, and polyphenols. These biochemical substances are antioxidants that help to remove blemishes, leaving you with clear skin. Lychee extract can serve as a potent cure for inflamed skin and acne marks. The combined effects of vitamin C and vitamin E slow down the skin ageing process. A study shows that antioxidants present in lychees may reduce the damaging effects of the sun on the skin.
Your body begins to release more free radicals as you age. They tend to cause wrinkles by damaging the skin. The antioxidants in lychees combine with these harmful free radicals and bring down their damaging action.
3. Promotes Hair Growth
Our hairs are continuously exposed to pollution or stress, which makes them weaker. Lychees, when used topically, nourish the hair follicles. A study shows that the copper peptides present in lychee lead to hair follicle enlargement, followed by a decrease in the resting phase of hair growth.
The vitamin C supplied by lychee fruits may direct more blood supply to the hair follicles, thus promoting hair growth. Using lychee pulp may also help to refurbish the shine in your hair. It can even retain the natural hair colour.
4. Lychee Prevents Cataract
Lychees are a powerhouse of phytochemicals that exhibit antineoplastic properties. As a result, they help in preventing abnormal cell growth and cataract. Most older adults are at risk of cataracts, a visual impairment formed due to eye lens clouding. Research shows vitamin C levels in lychees may reduce the risk of cataracts by reducing the oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
One of the salient health benefits of lychee is its anti-cancer effect. Research shows that including lychee extracts, such as its juice, into your daily diet might supply powerful flavonoids and antioxidants to the body. In addition, they have anticancer effects, especially against breast cancer.
Other phytochemical substances such as proanthocyanidins and polyphenols neutralise free radicals. As a result, they protect the body from cancerous growth. Lychee seeds contribute to cancer treatment since it is highly rich in polyphenols. It is a plant-derived compound with anticancer activity.
6. Good for Kidney
Lychee leaf extract is primarily composed of potent anti-inflammatory properties that help dissolve kidney stones. It also promotes smooth bladder function and eliminates toxins. A research review suggests that lychee leaves may also improve kidney function by reducing uric acid and creatinine content. Furthermore, the polyphenolic compounds of lychee are nephroprotective in nature.
7. Promotes Stronger Bones
Eating lychees improves bone health. It is rich in iron, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium. These minerals increase calcium absorption in the bone, making it stronger and healthier. Thus, eating lychees is beneficial for bone development in growing children.
Healthy Recipes Using Lychee
1. Litchi Lemonade
Preparation time: 10 minutes
- Lychees (peeled and pitted): 2
- Water: 1 cup
- Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
- Organic Raw Honey: 1 tsp (optional)
- Blend the lychees until they become in the form of a puree.
- Add water, raw honey, and lemon juice to the puree. Combine using a blender or shaker.
- Serve with ice cubes if needed.
2. Lychee Iced Tea
Preparation time: 20 minutes
- Water: 1 cup
- Black tea powder: 5 g
- Lychee (crushed or puree) – 15 g
- Ice cubes: 5
- Organic Raw Honey: 1 tsp
- Boil water and add black tea powder. Allow it to brew for 5-7 minutes.
- Let it cool down completely and then strain it.
- Add crushed or pureed lychee and honey to the tea. You may add more or less natural sweetener according to your taste.
- Fill a glass with ice cubes and pour the lychee tea over it. Serve chilled.
Potential Downsides of Lychee
1. May Not Be Diabetes-Friendly
Lychees contain high sugar content and a glycemic index of 50. Fruits with a glycemic index lower than 55 get digested slowly, allowing a slow release of sugar into the blood. However, eating lychee right after a meal or before going to bed at night might spike your blood sugar levels. Hence, diabetic patients must consume lychees in moderation.
Although not common, some people might be allergic to lychees. They experience allergic reactions after 15-20 minutes of eating lychee fruit. These reactions occur when your immune system interprets the proteins from lychees as invasive substances.
Research studies demonstrate that people with lychee allergy may experience bumps in the skin after coming in contact with lychees.
Some common symptoms that occur due to allergic reactions are:
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen lips
3. Hormonal Imbalance
Lychees tend to disturb your hormone balance. So, consuming it in excess quantities may trigger sore throat and fever symptoms. You can eat 8-10 lychees a day or take one small cup of cut lychees daily and no more.
4. Not Suitable During Pregnancy
Lychees may cause adverse health outcomes in pregnant women with diabetes. Due to its glycemic index, one should be careful when including this tropical fruit.
Lychee or litchi is a summer fruit loaded with essential nutrients such as vitamin C, copper, iron, magnesium, and antioxidants. It is a pulpy, tropical fruit often confused with rambutan. The vitamin C in lychee makes it a potent cure for ageing, blemishes, and hair thinning. Furthermore, the minerals in lychee are known to improve calcium absorption and make bones healthier.
Lychees are irresistible, but they may cause hormonal imbalance, provoke allergic reactions, and spike your blood sugar levels. Nevertheless, they are safe to consume. However, while lychees are laden with antioxidants and minerals, don’t go overboard by consuming too many. Eating a maximum of 8-10 lychees a day will fetch you its benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Is lychee good for health?
A. Yes, lychees are good for your health as they’re rich in dietary fibre, vitamin C, minerals, and antioxidants. In addition, it promotes smooth bowel movement, boosts bone density, and is anti-cancerous. Consuming lychees also provide you with a profuse amount of oligonol and copper. However, avoid eating unripe lychees. They contain methylene cyclopropyl-glycine and hypoglycin A toxin.
Q. How many lychees can you eat a day?
A. Eating too many lychees can be hazardous to health. An average adult can consume around 8-10 lychees a day. A person with diabetes should eat no more than 6 or 7 lychees in one sitting. Avoid eating more than 300 grams of lychee a day.
Q. Can people with diabetes eat lychee?
A. Lychees, like most fruits, have a good amount of natural sugar content. Since it has a glycemic index of 50, lychees digest slowly. Therefore, when consumed in moderate amounts, it is safe. However, eating lychees right after a meal may cause a blood sugar spike. Thus, a diabetic patient can have lychees, but in moderation.
Q. Why is lychee bad for you?
A. Lychees are bad for you if you have a previous medical history of allergy. Allergic reactions to eating lychees can be mild to severe. If you have diabetes, lychees will not be bad for your sugar levels only if you eat them in moderation.
Q. Can I eat lychee at night?
A. No, it is preferable to consume them during the day. Although lychees, when consumed in moderation, will not cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
Q. Are lychees good for weight loss?
A. Yes, lychees are low in calories and contain no saturated fats. In addition, it is rich in dietary fibre that regulates bowel movement by adding bulk to the stool. A healthy digestion process is vital to shedding some pounds. Also, eat it as an alternative to calorie-rich sugary foods.
Q. Is lychee a Superfood?
A. Lychees are laden with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. In addition, it is low in calories since 100 grams of lychee contains only 66 calories. Furthermore, lychees are exceptionally high in vitamin C, polyphenol, vitamin B, potassium, magnesium, and Oligonol. Thus, making it an ideal superfood.
Q. What are the benefits of drinking lychee juice?
A. Fresh lychee juice has no fat and fewer calories, making it beneficial for weight loss. The vitamin C and antioxidants in lychee juice reduce blemishes and mild acne. It makes the skin glow by reducing the ageing process. Consuming fresh lychee juice with aloe Vera promotes hair growth.
Q. What are the side effects of lychee?
A. Lychee is known to cause allergies and hormonal imbalance in some people. Eating unripe lychees on an empty stomach may cause stomach upset and vomiting. Also, if you eat lychees at night in excess quantities, there’s a high probability of experiencing extremely high blood sugar. If you have diabetes, it is advisable to consume them in moderation.
Q. Is lychee good for your skin?
A. Lychees are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. When used topically, lychee juice or extract helps remove blemishes, slows down the ageing process, and treats inflamed skin. Antioxidants in lychee prevent the damaging action of free radicals. If you’re looking to achieve clear and healthy skin, then lychee juice can be the perfect solution.
Q. Is lychee good for hair?
A. Yes, since lychee is an excellent source of copper, it would stimulate hair growth by actively nourishing the hair follicles. In addition, the vitamin C in lychees also promotes blood flow towards hair follicles, leading to hair growth. Moreover, lychees are known to retain the natural shine and colour of hair.
Q. Is lychee good for the kidney?
A. Lychee is nephroprotective, meaning that it will protect the kidney nephrons. In addition, the potent anti-inflammatory properties of lychee leaf extract may dissolve kidney stones. It also reduces uric acid concentration and improves kidney function.
Q. Are lychees good for the eyes?
A. Yes, the anti-neoplastic property of lychee helps in cataract prevention. In addition, lychee contains plentiful antioxidants. Thus, lychees prevent oxidative damage caused by free radicals.