Luscious, fragrant, and bursting with tropical sweetness, lychee fruit has captivated palates around the world for centuries. The unique flavor and numerous health benefits of lychee make it a remarkable addition to any balanced diet. You will be amazed by these little fruity pops, not just for their pretty appearance but also for the incredible nourishment they offer. With each succulent bite, there is a burst of tropical nutrients packed into little balls to make you crave more.
Lychees are packed with an abundance of nutritional goodness. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C and flavonoids rich in lychee fruit, help you fight various health problems, including dull skin. There is more in the bucket as you read through (1).
With a high water content, these little fruits can help quench your thirst and refresh you on hot summer days. They make for the perfect guilt-free snack, satisfying your yearnings while keeping you hydrated.
Whether you enjoy them fresh, blended into smoothies, or added to fruit salads, lychees are a delightful way to incorporate wholesome goodness into your diet.
So dive into a bowl of lychees and experience the joy of indulging in nature’s tropical treasure. Treat yourself to their sweetness while reaping the bountiful benefits of lychee. With lychees, you’ll discover that healthy eating can be a scrumptious and enjoyable journey. Embrace the juicy goodness, and let lychees add fun and nourishment to your life!
What are Lychees?
Scientific Name – Litchi chinensis
Family – Sapindaceae
Native – Kwangtung and Fukien provinces in southern China
Other Names – Lichi (Hindi), Vilazi pazham (Tamil), Lichi Pazham (Malayalam)
This tropical treat, scientifically known as Litchi chinensis, is a small, round, or oval fruit that originated from the subtropical regions of Asia, most commonly found in South-East Asia, China, and Taiwan. Coming from the soapberry family, they are prized for their delectable taste and unique texture. They are found in a rough pinkish shell and have juicy, translucent white flesh that surrounds a single seed in the center. The flesh is sweet, fragrant, and often described as a blend of floral, fruity, and slightly acidic flavors.
Lychees have been cultivated for centuries and are popular in various cuisines around the world. Lychee fruit is not only enjoyed as fresh fruit but is also used in desserts, beverages, and savory dishes. In many Asian cultures, lychees hold cultural significance and are often associated with celebrations and auspicious occasions.
Although lychees have a very short shelf life, the list of benefits of lychees is not short. Apart from their delightful taste, lychees offer several health benefits. Loaded with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, it can be a great snacking option during the summer. However, there are certain things to keep in mind while purchasing one. Look for firmer, brighter, and heavier litchi. A softer litchi usually indicates it won’t last long in your fridge and needs to be immediately consumed.
So, whether you’re seeking a delicious snack, a unique addition to your culinary creations, or a tropical flavor experience, lychees are a delightful fruit that is sure to please your palate and add a touch of exotic flair to your meals.
Lychee Nutrition Facts
100g of lychee contains the following nutrients, as per USDA Food Data Central. One litchi is 10g in weight (1).
- Calories: 66
- Protein: 0.83 g
- Fat: 0.44 g
- Carbs: 16.5 g
- Fiber: 1.3 g
- Vitamin C: 71.5 mg
- Calcium: 5 mg
- Magnesium: 10 mg
- Phosphorus: 31 mg
- Potassium: 171 mg
25 Amazing Health Benefits of Lychee
Although small in size, this fruit has more benefits than we could imagine. Find these wonderful reasons to eat litchi if you haven’t started yet.
1. May Help Maintain Electrolyte Balance
Lychees are made of 80% water and are an excellent choice for maintaining proper hydration, which is required for the functioning of organs and skin health (1).
While the need for hydration is often satisfied with the water we drink, we often do not drink enough, and hence the body extracts it from the various foods we consume. Fruits, including lychees, are high in water content, meaning they provide minerals like potassium, sodium, and chloride to maintain electrolyte balance in the body (1).
Moreover, proper hydration helps regulate body temperature. When the body becomes dehydrated, it may struggle to cool down efficiently, leading to an increased risk of heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke. By regularly consuming hydrating foods like lychee, you can support your body’s natural cooling mechanisms and maintain a stable body temperature (2).
2. May Help Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Lychee is one of the most delicious tropical fruits and may also help regulate blood sugar levels due to its nutritional properties. Firstly, it’s not the lychee that exhibits hypoglycemic activity, but the seeds that contribute to glycemic control.
Lychee seed contains certain bioactive compounds such as flavanones, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins that help reduce oxidative stress in diabetic patients. By reducing oxidative stress, lychee seed extract may help protect pancreatic beta cells and improve their function in insulin production (3).
3. Lychees Possess Anti-cancer Properties
While there are investigations going on to study the anti-cancer properties of lychees, there are enough studies to prove that lychee seed extract and pericarp extracts are capable of producing anti-cancer effects (1).
Lychee fruit pericarp and seed contain polyphenolic and antioxidant compounds that are responsible for their anti-tumor properties. There are several studies that show lychee skin may help prevent rectum cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer (1).
A study in 2006 showed that lychee skin is water soluble, and its extract, when needed, was given to mice with liver cancer. This significantly slowed the growth of human hepatoma cells and suppressed cancer development (4). A similar study also resulted in the suppression of breast cancer. The skin extract caused changes in the genetic expressions, causing cancer cell death (5).
4. May Help Fight Nocturnal Asthma
While lychees are a great source of numerous vitamins and minerals, their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties help fight nocturnal asthma. It is a condition leading to the tightness of the chest, wheezing at night, and difficulty breathing, making it almost impossible to sleep and making you heavily tired.
Lychee seed starch is actively available on the market and can be used as a water-thickening agent in place of potato starch, corn starch, or tapioca starch. The combination of phenolic compounds and bioactive polysaccharides in lychee makes it rich in antioxidants. This makes lychee a great choice for creating edible coatings and films with innovative properties (6).
5. May Help Rejuvenate Your Skin
If you live in a tropical country, it is hard to believe that you haven’t heard of lychee fruit. Also, it is equally difficult to protect your skin from dust and UV rays in tropical countries.
Vitamin C from lychee is a skin-friendly nutrient. To have a smooth texture and an even skin tone, it is a primary source to look for, and lychee is abundant in vitamin C (7).
Moreover, lychee fruit extract consists of some low-molecular polyphenols like oligonol, catechins, flavonols, and procyanidins (8). Polyphenols act as an antioxidant for your skin, which prevents any severe damage to your skin cells and prevents malignancies (9). Further, it may be a blessing in disguise when consumed on a regular basis in small amounts for your skin, as it helps treat sunburns and acne.
6. May Help Prevent Hepatitis B
Although hepatitis B is controlled by vaccination, which is necessary to keep the virus away, as per many research studies, lychee seeds have been known to be the second most effective treatment against the hepatitis B virus in herbal medicine (10).
Lychee fruit, which comes from the Sapindaceae family, is rich in polyphenolic compounds. The pericarp, which is the red shell, and the seeds work effectively as herbal medicines. Compounds such as anthocyanins, and tannins are coming to the rescue in cases of liver-related diseases, as per Chinese medicine (11).
7. May Help Reduce Sunburn
Sunburns are those parts of your trip that come home unwanted. It could be uncomfortable, itchy, and burn at times. However, with litchi’s antioxidant properties to reduce oxidative stress and anti-inflammatory properties, it could be easy for you to say goodbye to sunburns (12).
While orally consuming lychees is beneficial, it can also help cure sunburns when applied topically to the affected area. The mask is super easy to make and takes less than 5 minutes of your time. Take 3-4 litchis and extract the juice from the litchis. Add a vitamin E capsule to the juice and apply it to the affected areas. Leave it for 30 minutes, and you are good to go (12).
8. May Help Promote Hair Growth
Pollution, stress, and hormones make your hair weaker and malnourished. In a busy period of life, it becomes almost impossible to take care of your hair, and that is why this tropical fruit might help you out. When applied topically to the hair follicles, the copper peptides of the lychee enlarge the follicles and reduce the resting period. Secondly, lychees are abundant in vitamin C, which helps improve blood supply to the follicles, helping hair growth (13).
9. May Help Improve Cognitive Functions
Cognitive functions refer to the ability of the human mind to perform multiple skills that include the brain, like thinking, learning, remembering, problem-solving, decision-making, and focusing.
Preliminary research indicates that the oligonol present in lychee may have positive effects on cognitive function. It has been shown to enhance memory and attention, possibly through its antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. Oligonol’s ability to support healthy blood flow and protect brain cells may contribute to its potential cognitive benefits, one of the crucial benefits of lychee
Also, Lychee seed extracts contain saponin, which claims to improve cognitive functions and reduce brain injury. Lychee seed extract might be a powerful herbal medicine for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, as it also supports memory issues (16).
10. May Help Improve Cardiovascular Health
Lychee, the delicious tropical fruit, may contribute to promoting cardiovascular health through various mechanisms.
Lychee is rich in antioxidants, particularly vitamin C and other polyphenols. These antioxidants help combat oxidative stress and reduce the damage caused by free radicals in the body.
Moreover, polyphenols also help widen blood vessels and improve blood flow.
Research suggests that certain polyphenols present in lychee may help reduce LDL cholesterol levels and promote a healthier lipid profile. By managing cholesterol levels, lychee may contribute to maintaining Low-Density Lipoprotein levels (LDL) (17).
11. May Increase Metabolic Rate
The fruit is rich in vitamin and mineral content, including vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, and copper, which contribute to essential metabolic processes. Lychee’s antioxidants, such as vitamin C and polyphenols, combat oxidative stress and protect cells from damage, which can optimize metabolism. Additionally, being a low-calorie fruit, the benefits of lychee can be enjoyed for weight management and metabolic health (1).
Furthermore, it has a good amount of fiber and vitamin B-complex, which have proven to improve metabolism rates. Lychee seed extract may also help regulate metabolism in diabetes patients. Hence, lychee could be a win for patients suffering from low metabolism or similarly suffering from high sugar (16).
12. May Help Defend Against the HSV Virus
Herpes simplex virus is a virus that leads to herpes outbreaks. It is counted under sexually transmitted diseases and may lead to itchy sores on the tongue, mouth, and face. While this is not a deadly disease, it may give rise to uncomfortable and painful situations. While HSV is a type of virus, it also leads to many underlying problems, mainly ocular diseases (18).
Lychee is filled with vitamins, minerals, and antiviral properties. In a study conducted in vitro, it was found that the lychee flower limits the replication of the virus and also degrades it. This was due to boosting the host’s immunity and helping it fight against the pathogen; in this case, it is HSV-1 (19).
13. May Help Maintain Blood Pressure
There are many benefits of lychee, but among all of them, this one is the most researched and supported of all. There are numerous reasons why lychee helps maintain blood pressure. Firstly, lychee is high in potassium and sodium, which help maintain the electrolytes in the blood.
Further, the Quercetin-3-O-glycoside compound found in lychee exhibits blood pressure-balancing properties. It has been shown to offer protection against stress and oxidative damage, which can contribute to elevated blood pressure levels (20).
Lychee also contains rutin, a powerful antioxidant that aids in the utilization of vitamin C and the production of collagen. It helps in healing conditions such as hemorrhoids and high blood pressure, while also assisting in reducing cholesterol levels.
Lastly, another beneficial compound present in lychee is chlorogenic acid, which possesses antioxidant properties. It has been associated with blood-pressure-lowering effects and also exhibits a laxative effect. By promoting healthy blood vessel tone and reducing blood pressure, chlorogenic acid supports cardiovascular health and contributes to maintaining normal blood pressure levels (21).
14. May Help Boost RBC Production
Anemia is one of the most common nutritional deficiency conditions found in women. The best way to naturally improve the Hemoglobin count is by improving dietary habits and including Iron-rich foods in your diet (22).
One way to achieve this is by including lychee in your diet. Lychee is a good source of Iron, folate, and Vitamin C. All of these contribute to enhancing iron absorption. Vitamin C converts plant-based non-heme iron into an absorbable form, while folate plays a crucial role in cell division, including the formation of RBC (23).
15. May Help Increase Immunity
Even the slightest weather change can lower your child’s immunity. Even adults these days face several immunity-related problems, like recurring viral infections. Consuming one cup of lychee daily may help prevent viral infections.
The benefits of lychee lie in its high levels of vitamin C, which play a crucial role in immune function. Vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off pathogens and infections (24). Additionally, lychee is a good source of dietary fiber, which supports a healthy gut microbiome. A balanced gut microbiome is linked to a strong immune system, as it helps regulate immune responses and prevents the overgrowth of harmful bacteria (25).
Furthermore, flavonoids such as quercetin and kaempferol, possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These compounds help reduce inflammation in the body and protect cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals (26). By reducing inflammation and oxidative damage, lychee supports overall immune function and enhances the body’s ability to defend against infections.
16. May Aid in Weight Loss
As we are well aware, weight loss is not a one-time thing; it is a journey of hard workouts and a well-balanced diet. A diet that consists of a full-course meal rich in fiber, protein, and vitamins can help you shed pounds and lead to a healthier life.
Lychee is one of the fruits that you can include in your diet when aiming for weight loss. Firstly, lychee is a low-calorie fruit, with approximately 66 calories per 100 grams (1). This means you can enjoy its sweet flavor while consuming fewer calories compared to other snacks or desserts. Secondly, dietary fiber, which can increase feelings of fullness and lower caloric intake overall, is present in abundance in lychee. Additionally, fiber helps with digestion and blood sugar regulation, both of which can help with weight management. (1), (27).
In one study, it was indicated that oligonol supplementation (also naturally found in lychee) led to various beneficial effects on body weight and fat accumulation. Mice receiving oligonol exhibited decreased body weight gain, reduced fat tissue weight, and lower levels of serum lipids compared to the control group (28).
17. May Help Prevent Cataracts
Lychee fruit contains various nutrients and antioxidants that may contribute to the prevention of cataracts, an eye condition characterized by clouding of the lens. One of the factors responsible for preventing cataracts is the high Vitamin C content of lychee. Being a powerful antioxidant, it helps protect the cells from free radicals that contribute to the development of cataracts (29).
18. May Boost Kidney Health
While lychee fruit is commonly enjoyed for its taste and potential health benefits of lychee, some preliminary research suggests that lychee leaf extract may have certain properties that could potentially support kidney health.
Bioactive compounds in lychee leaf extract, like polyphenols and flavonoids, possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This may help break down kidney stones and, hence, help people with similar conditions. Furthermore, lychee leaf extract has been found to exhibit diuretic properties in animal studies (30). Diuretics promote increased urine production, which can aid in the elimination of waste products and toxins from the body (31). This can potentially support kidney function by reducing the burden on the kidneys and promoting the excretion of waste materials (32).
19. May Help Support Healthy Pregnancy
Pregnancy makes a woman’s body ask for more nutrition to support the fetus. While a human body might not get enough nutrients from food, it may sometimes need to take folate, iron, and multivitamin supplements for the nourishment and development of a growing baby.
Lychee contains folate, a B vitamin that is crucial for fetal development, especially during the early stages of pregnancy. Folate plays a vital role in DNA synthesis and cell division, supporting the formation of the neural tube and preventing certain birth defects, such as neural tube defects (33).
Iron is essential for both the mother and the growing fetus. During pregnancy, iron requirements increase to support the production of red blood cells and ensure adequate oxygen supply to the baby. Lychee is rich in iron and hence can be a good source of iron during pregnancy (34).
Lychee is a good source of vitamin C, which is important for overall health and immune function. During pregnancy, vitamin C plays a crucial role in collagen synthesis, which is essential for the development of bones, cartilage, and connective tissues in the baby. Additionally, vitamin C enhances iron absorption, helping the body utilize iron more efficiently (35), (1).
Having said that, it is important to consume every food in moderation, especially during pregnancy. Start with a small amount, and if no adverse reaction is seen, you may consume it daily. Also, before adding anything new to your diet while pregnant, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional first.
20. May Help with Arthritis Pain
Arthritis is a condition causing inflammation or swelling of the joints, most commonly in the knees, hands, and elbows. Lychees have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce swelling.
21. May Help Improve Sleep Quality
While sleep is the most important task for our body, it is also the time when it gets to rejuvenate, metabolize, reduce stress, and do other things in general. However, a lack of proper sleep has numerous harmful effects on the body. For many people, getting proper sleep might be a task due to several reasons. Hence, instead of relying on supplements, it is better to improve your diet and include magnesium-rich foods in it.
Lychee contains magnesium, a mineral known for its calming and relaxing properties. Magnesium plays a crucial role in the regulation of neurotransmitters involved in sleep, such as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which promotes relaxation and helps to initiate sleep. Adequate magnesium levels may improve sleep onset and quality (37).
22. May Help with Heartburn
Despite being a sweet and juicy fruit, lychee has an alkaline nature. Heartburn, or acid reflux, happens when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing a burning feeling along the chest area. Alkaline foods like lychee (when consumed fresh) can help neutralize excess stomach acid, providing relief from heartburn symptoms (38).
Lychee is a good source of dietary fiber, which can aid digestion and alleviate heartburn. Fiber promotes regular bowel movements and helps prevent constipation, which can contribute to heartburn. By promoting a healthy digestive system, lychee can reduce the likelihood of acid reflux (39).
However, it is crucial not to consume on an empty stomach, as this may reverse its effect and cause heartburn or bloating at times.
23. May Help Prevent Signs of Aging
Aging is one of the most common and acceptable changes we go through. The wrinkles, blemishes, and fine lines on your face become more prominent. However, with a proper diet and food intake, this might get delayed.
The antioxidant-rich fruit helps combat oxidative stress and free radicals that damage cells and increase the aging process. This prevents oxidative stress and, hence, also helps improve the signs of fine lines and wrinkles (40).
While it may also help when applied as a mask on the face. Just peel the pulp out and mix it with the banana. Massage it gently in a circular motion and leave it for 30 minutes. Wash it with cold water, and you are good to go with glowy skin.
24. May Aid in Detoxification
Lychee has a high water content, with approximately 80% of its composition being water. Staying hydrated is essential for supporting the body’s natural detoxification processes. Water helps flush out toxins and waste products through urine and sweat. By consuming lychee as a juice or lychee-infused water, which is hydrating, you can contribute to maintaining optimal hydration levels and supporting the elimination of toxins from the body (41).
Side Effect of Lychee Fruit
- Some individuals may be allergic to lychee. The reaction may be just itching around joints or skin, swelling of lips or throat, hives, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis in severe cases (42).
- Eating lychee fruit in excess or consuming it on an empty stomach can lead to gastrointestinal discomforts, such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea. This is because lychee contains certain sugars and fibers that can be difficult to digest for some people.
It’s important to note that the above side effects are generally associated with excessive consumption or individual sensitivities. You may enjoy lychee without experiencing any adverse effects as well. However, if you have any concerns or pre-existing medical conditions, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet.
There are numerous benefits of lychee, along with its delicious taste and different ways to enjoy it. This tropical fruit is perfect for summer, but since it has a short life, you may want to store it in the freezer or squeeze out the pulp, knowing its benefits to your health. This may range from preventing viral infection to also inhibiting cancerous tumor formation in the body. The fiber content aids digestion and promotes bowel regularity, contributing to a healthy gut. Lychee’s hydrating properties help maintain optimal fluid balance, promoting healthy skin and proper organ function.
With its abundant antioxidants, fiber, anti-inflammatory components, and essential vitamins such as C and B, lychee stands as a remarkable superfruit that offers a holistic solution to your health concerns. However, as moderation is the key to any good thing, lychee too should be consumed in a certain amount. Enjoying lychee in appropriate quantities ensures that you can fully reap its advantages while maintaining a balanced diet.
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