Benefits Of Lychee Fruits
Lychee or commonly known as litchi is an exotic fruit variety belonging to the soapberry family. The botanical name of this tropical fruit is litchi chinesis.
It is a popular cool and juicy summer fruit which comes with the advent of summer season. The peel or outer covering is pink-reddish in colour and the fruit has a rough, bumpy texture; however, it is very easy to peel off.
Upon removing the outer covering, a soft and juicy white pulp somewhat similar to raspberries is exposed which has a nice fragrance and is delicately sweet in taste, occasionally being mildly sour. It also consists of a large inedible seed underneath which makes it a drupe.
Lychee trees are evergreen in nature and can grow up to a height of hundred feet.
It is native to tropical provinces of China namely Fujian and Guangdong, though, nowadays it is being cultivated in various other regions of the world too.
Since warm and humid climates are most favourable condition for the plant’s growth, lychee flourished in Florida, Hawaii and then later in California. Today lychees are a worldwide fruit from Brazil to Australia and Africa to Burma. Lychees can be categorised into two types: those which leak juice and those which don’t leak.
Nutritional benefits of lychee fruit
About 100 grams of lychee contains 276kJ of energy. It also contains 16.53 grams of carbohydrates which comprises of 15.23 grams of sugar and the rest 1.3 grams of dietary fibre. Also it contains of 0.83 grams of proteins and 0.44 grams of fat.
It also has a surplus of vitamins such as 0.011 mg of thiamine (B1), 0.065mg of riboflavin (B2), 0.603 mg of niacin (B3), 0.1 mg of vitamin B6, about 14 µg of folate (B9) and lastly a hefty proportion of 71.5mg of vitamin C which comprises 86% of the total vitamins.
Moreover it consists of trace metals such as 5 mg of calcium, 0.13 mg of iron, 10 mg of magnesium, 0.055 mg of manganese, 31 mg of phosphorus, 171 mg of potassium, 1 mg of sodium and 0.07 mg of zinc. Among phytochemicals, the fruit contains moderate quantity of polyphenols.
It also contains cyanide-3-glucoside and malvidin-3-glucoside which are compounds belonging to anthocyanins. Also lychee consists of oligonol which is a small-chain of polyphenol and has antioxidant characteristics
Recently there have been reports that lychee is responsible for a deadly viral disease, encephalitis. In June 2014 several lives were claimed in the eastern parts of India growing lychee. However, the disease seems to be bounded only in the affected regions and occurs only during the month of May and in early June i.e. during its harvest season. Related to hypoglycemia, encephalitis may be triggered in undernourished children by a toxic compound known as methylenecyclopropyl-glycine which is a homologue of hypoglycine A and is found in lychee.
Health benefits of lychee
Lychee has various benefits which have been proven and are used since centuries long ago. Consumption of lychee regulates blood pressure and also heart beat hence guarding us from strokes and other heart problems. The high content of polyphenols in lychee is responsible for this health advantage.
Also, the antioxidants present in lychee strengthen immunity, slow down the progress of eye cataract and prevent all sorts of cardiovascular ailments. Lychee also helps in lowering the risk of cancer in our body. Powerful compounds such as kaemferol, flavones and quercitin present in lychee help fight against the deadly disease by avoiding the proliferation of cancerous cells.
Also lychee helps in improved digestion, keeps the stomach clean, develops appetite, heals heartburn and burning feeling in stomach. Lychee also boosts overall energy levels in our body. Also the soluble fibre present in the fruit regulates bowel problems and keeps our stomach free from toxic substances and also cleans the colon.
Further, lychee is a rich supply of magnesium and phosphorus which develop strong bones and also manganese and copper which improve brittle bones. Along with these the presence of vitamin D, which helps in the absorption of calcium in our body, lychee helps in strengthening our overall skeletal framework.
Also, as lychee is a wealthy source of vitamin C, intake of lychee helps in improving immunity against infectious diseases and harmful inflammatory free radicals. Lychees contain oligonol which has several antioxidants and also acts against influenza viruses.
They regulate blood circulation, lower weight by decreasing deep fat and also heal body exhaustion after exercise and improve stamina. Lychees are a great skin nourish. Oligonols not only remove brown spots and facial lines but also shield our skin from the harmful UVA rays.
Lychees also nurture skin oils which in turn avoid the growth of acne. Nowadays due to UV radiation, smoke and pollution premature ageing of skin takes place. This has been related to free radicals present in our body. The combination of vitamin C, vitamin B-complex and oligonols work together as an excellent anti-ageing system.
Also, vitamin C present in lychees help in preserving integrity of micro-circulation hence confirming sufficient supply of blood to our hair folliocles. Thus lychees are also responsible for the maintenance of our healthy hair.
Preparation and tips
Lychees are best eaten raw and alone. However there are several ways to enjoy lychees along with other food items. One can peel them and serve them with salad. They can also be added to ice-creams and cocktails. They can be served as desserts along with cream, cheese or yoghurt. Moreover, one can remove their seeds and stuff them with cream or orange rind to prepare interesting finger foods. Lychee lemonades, martinis and iced teas are excellent refreshments.
Selection and Storage
Lychees don’t ripen further after being plucked from the tree and so fully ripe lychees should be chosen. These are usually bright-coloured, reddish in hue and lack blemishes. Its skin should be tough and not dull or dry while the inner skin should be fresh and mould-free.
Lychees possess a long shelf life and can be stored at room temperature for about 5-6 days and if refrigerated then up to 4-5 weeks. To prevent loss of moisture they should be folded in paper towel and stored in ventilated plastic bags. Also one should not peel them until they are to be immediately served.