Lychee is sweet and a very fragrant fruit, which is usually available in the summer. This fruit originated in China but today is found in most of the South East Asian countries. It is the member of soapberry family, Sapindaceae. There are three sub-species of Lychee. It has rough skin outside while contains juicy and creamy white flesh inside. Lychee has a wonderful taste and in modern times it has found its niche in desserts, juices and ice creams.
Lychee is a small fruit packed with loads of healthy nutrients. Lychee is considered an exotic fruit and has a very short shelf life. This is why it is available for a very limited time even during its season. In ancient China, lychee was the favored fruit in the imperial corridors finding its greatest fans amongst the Kings and queens; who would get these beautiful fruit transported to capital at a great cost to the Kingdom.
Nutritional Value of Lychee
Lychee is a very nutritious fruit. It has a high water content and is full of energy. Following is the detailed nutritional chart which shows the nutritional value of per 100 grams of Lychee.
|Dietary fiber||1.3 gms|
|Vitamin B1||0.011 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.065 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.603 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.10 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||14 ug|
|Vitamin C||71.5 mg|
Lychee has a high level of vitamin C in it and meets about 86% of the body’s daily requirement of this vitamin. It is a little high on sugar and has reasonable amount of dietary fiber. It is a rich source of Polyphenols that make it a strong and highly recommended anti-oxidant. The composition of minerals make it a great fuel for the electrolyte balance in our body.
Health Benefits of Lychee
Due to its numerous health benefits lychee is used as an alternative medicine in China. It contains a healthy blend of nutrients that promote health. So, know the amazing health benefits of lychee that can make a lot of difference to your fitness in an absolutely tasty way.
1. Strengthens Immunity
Vitamin C is a water soluble Vitamin which means that it is not stored in the body. Our bodily excretions like sweat, stools and urine flush it out of our body every time and every day. This is why it needs to be replenished through the dietary sources. Lychee is an excellent source of Vitamin C and contains 71.5 mg per 100 g serving. With a high amount of Vitamin C in it, lychee proves to be a good antioxidant which improves the immune function of our body. Lychee increases immunity to protect against common diseases like cough, cold and flu. Vitamin C also strengthens immune system to protect from day to day infections. It is highly recommended especially for young children who are highly vulnerable to infections and cold.
Vitamin C is also known to alleviate scurvy which is mainly caused by the Vitamin C deficiency. This condition begins with symptoms like general lethargy, spongy and bleeding gums, spot formation on skin and bleeding in mucous membrane. It is a serious condition which can prove to be fatal if not controlled in time.
Wrap up : High Vitamin C content of Lychee makes it an excellent anti-oxidant which makes the immunity of our body strong. Lychees are also recommended to alleviate scurvy which is caused by deficiency of Vitamin C.
2. Protection from Free Radicals
Lychee contains good amount of antioxidant Vitamin C, Vitamin B-complex and phytonutrient flavonoids. These antioxidants and phytonutrient flavonoids are important nutrient that makes lychee healthy.
Antioxidants are required to protect the body from oxidative stress. High oxidative stress is caused due to pollution and UV radiation. This process creates free radicals from oxygen molecules. These free radicals destroy normal cell DNA and change the function of cells to form cancer cells.
But antioxidants neutralize these free radicals and acts as a shield to protect cells from damage. So lychee protects from cancer and tumors.
Free radicals are also known to cause premature ageing and delay in cell repair. These are also taken care of by the anti-oxidants in out diets thereby reducing and controlling inflammation and degenerative diseases like Arthritis.
Wrap up : Lychee contains flavonoids and anti-oxidants that protect from various types of cancers, inflammation and arrests the rapid progress of degenerative diseases.
3. The Blood Relation
Lychee is a rich source of nutrients that are required for the production and circulation of blood. Hemoglobin in our blood transports oxygen throughout out body and is made of Iron. Iron is what gives the red color to our blood which is a clear indication about the high content of iron and its importance in the blood.
Folate is also an essential part of Hemoglobin. Magnesium plays an important role of forming blood clots in our body. Without the clotting function, a single cut can bleed out the last traces of blood from our body.
Copper is used by our bodies for healthy metabolism of Iron and formation of red blood cells (RBC). On top of all, Vitamin C is necessary for absorption of Iron in the body.
No matter how much iron rich diet you consume, it is not going to convert into healthy levels of hemoglobin in the blood if there is deficiency of Vitamin C.
All these minerals- manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, Vitamin C and folate are present in lychee and make it a complete food for blood formation, its level and overall health.
Wrap up: The mineral composition of Lychee along with Vitamin C aids blood formation with a healthy count of red blood cells in it.
4. Increase Metabolism
Lychee contains good amount of fiber and Vitamin B-complex which increase metabolism. A particular component Oligonol contained in lychee has shown promising results in regulating metabolism.
Metabolism is required to assimilate, absorb and throw the excess nutrition out of our bodies. This includes fats, proteins, sugar and carbohydrates.
People suffering from insulin resistance due to lousy metabolism must consume food items like Lychee which is rich in Oligonol.Though due to its high sugar content, lychees are just not recommended for diabetics but those who have a potential threat of this disorder can definitely take advantage of the useful metabolism encouraging qualities of this fruit.
It also helps in dissolving fat from the body.The high water content of about 80-85% is also makes lychee a great flushing agent.
Wrap up: Lychee is a metabolism booster which helps in cleaning out the body’s systems by flushing out excess sugar, fats and proteins from the body. It also helps in combating insulin resistance.
5. Skin’s Best friend
Our skin bears the brunt of ageing, pollution, exposure to harmful UV rays, stress and other lifestyle related disturbances.
Though ageing is really a natural phenomenon but is expedited by rest of the factors mentioned earlier. The result is dull skin with fine lines that make you look much older than your age. The main cause of ageing is free radicals produced in our body, due to high oxidative stress .
But antioxidants have proven to destroy these free radicals to slow the ageing process. A right combination of food items in our diet can delay the onset of skin ageing significantly.
Vitamin C and high water content of Lychees is an ideal blend of age delaying factors. Vitamin C cleans the impurities and water flushes them out. Both of these keep the skin radiant and well-hydrated diminishing the wrinkles and fine lines.
Wrap up: The anti-oxidant Vitamin C and high content of water in lychee keeps the skin well hydrated and cleans out the impurities in form of free radicals thereby making the skin look young and fresh.
6. Heart Disease & Blood Pressure
In a research it was found that antioxidants rich foods lower blood pressure. Lychee contains high amount of antioxidant Vitamin C.
A high fiber content also discourages fat formation and fat reserves in the body. Lychee contains high amount of dietary fiber which proves best nutrient that promote cardiovascular health.
Also lychee has proved to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL) level in blood. Thus it improves the blood flow towards the heart and reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke and hypertension.
Fiber rich foods have proved to suppress appetite and increase metabolism. This brings down the overall blood cholesterol level which creates obstruction in the blood circulation. Potassium further aids the heart beat by keeping and regulating the muscle function of our body.
Wrap up: The high fiber and Vitamin C in Lychee reduces the cholesterol levels in the body and potassium regulates the heart beat leading to an overall good cardiac health.
7. Aids Digestion & Bowel movements
The process of digestion is pivotal in nutrition absorption in our body.
Pectin with the dietary fiber of lychee is considered very beneficial for bowel movement and maintaining healthy digestive system. Both of these content make the stools bulky and soft so that they can pass through the anal passage easily. This function is further enhanced by the high water content of lychee as it is the combination of roughage and water which helps in preventing constipation.
Regular and complete emptying out of bowels not only cleans the body but also protects from conditions like piles and colon cancer.
Wrap up: The fiber, pectin and water in lychee aids healthy bowel movements and protect from constipation, Colon cancer and Piles.
8. Weight loss & Fluid Balance
Maintaining an ideal weight is important for our body. But more important are the ways and means by which we do so. Planning your healthy diet and exercises is a strict requirement without which your body can suffer and become deficient in many essential nutrients. Mindless exercises can lead to major water loss through incessant sweating. If this is not supplemented with right food then all you will end up with is a cramped up and dehydrated body.
Lychee also contains a good amount of potassium which is required to maintain sodium level. Also high potassium is required to maintain fluid level i.e. Balance electrolyte. Thus it helps to maintain high blood pressure and it reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack. Also it contains minerals like manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and folate that maintain blood pressure.
A few more words on Lychee
Lychee is a wonderful fruit which tastes as good as it is beneficial for our bodies. However, if you tend to hog on it then the high sugar content must be kept in mind. If diabetes runs in your family then the consumption of lychee might necessitate a medical opinion. However, in moderate quantities it is as good as they come.
In some parts of India and Vietnam, lychee has been suspected to cause a disease called Acute encephalitis (AES). Though the virus causing AES earned a disreputable name of “lychee virus”, but most of the studies and scientific observations have not been able to link these two conclusively.
Lychee tree is an ever green shrub which grows almost 10-28 meters but the fruit itself only lasts a few days after ripening. China is the largest producer of this fruit followed by India. Since it is such a rare and exotic fruit with health benefits that go far and wide, this luscious and succulent treat must be one fruit to look forward to during the summers.