It’s absolutely delicious and equally nutritious.
It looks like a strawberry but tastes like a mix of pear and grape.
Its pulpy, white flesh perfectly complements its rough, pink exterior.
And it’s in season.
Yes, I’m talking about the luscious lychee.
After mangoes and melons, it’s time for lychees to make its way to your plate.
Lychee, a member of the soapberry family, stands among one of the most popular tropical fruits. Like its luscious flavor, lychee boasts of a rich history; it was the much-loved fruit of emperors and queens due to its wealth of nutrients – Vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, copper, and potassium.
Lychee, meaning a gift for joyful life, lives up to its name. From slowing down aging to treating digestive ailments, promoting blood circulation, regulating blood pressure and assisting weight loss, lychee is a big surprise in a small package.
Let’s look at the health benefits of Lychee and what this juicy and flavorful fruit has to offer:
Works as a Digestive Tonic
Lychees have been a popular ancient Chinese remedy to boost digestion and to relieve stomach ailments. The high fiber content in this tropical fruit regulates your bowel movements and helps cure constipation, a common problem during summers. Additionally, fiber improves the absorption of nutrients as it stimulates digestive juices. Bursting with the goodness of pectin, lychee protects you against colon cancer and piles.
Lowers Cancer Risk
All fruits are a storehouse of phytonutrients which provides some protection against cancer and lychee is no exception. In fact, it ranks second among all fruits for its antioxidant power. According to this study published in PubMed, lychees are teeming with polyphenols, proanthocyanidins and Vitamin C; these antioxidants neutralize cancer-causing free radicals. Proanthocyanidins drastically cut your risk of stomach and prostate cancer. The flavonoids - quercetin and kaempferol – inhibit the growth of cancer cells, especially breast cancer.
With 71.5 mg of Vitamin C in a 100-gram serving, lychee fulfills your daily requirement of this immune-boosting vitamin. A potent antioxidant, Vitamin C activates the white blood cells, the main defensive line of your body’s immune system against infections and illnesses. Additionally, lychees are loaded with Litchitannin A2, a powerful antiviral that counteracts herpes virus and coxsackievirus.
Keeps Your Heart Ticking
The flavonoids, fiber, and antioxidants in lychee pack a solid nutritional punch for a healthy heart. A zero cholesterol and high-fiber food, this summer fruit is ideal to lower your cholesterol levels. With its high potassium and low-sodium content, lychees are one of the best natural foods to lower blood pressure. Being a rich source of copper, lychee helps in the formation of red blood cells and proper blood circulation.
According to a study published in Natural Medicine Journal, Oligonol, a key component of lychees, might act as a vasodilator and be an effective treatment for a variety of symptoms such as cold hands and feet, shoulder discomfort, and diabetes-related vascular problems.
Helps You Lose Weight
A 100-gram serving of lychees offers a mere 66 calories with zero fat. This high-fiber fruit fills you up with low calories, staves off sweet cravings, and decreases storage of body fat; all these factors support weight loss. In addition, excess toxins in your body result in fat and weight gain. With a high dose of antioxidants, lychee rinses out these toxins and allows you to shed the extra pounds. Furthermore, the bevy of B complex vitamins in this super fruit fast-track your metabolism.
Benefits Your Kidneys
Lychees are packed with a substantial amount of water and potassium; both nutrients flush out the toxins deposited in your kidneys. This summer fruit lowers the concentration of uric acid drastically lowers your risk of kidney damage. According to this article, the combination of magnesium and vitamin B 6 in lychees minimizes the risk of kidney stones. A natural diuretic, lychees promote urination and relieve the pain caused due to kidney stones.
Promotes Radiant Skin
Pollution, exposure to UV rays, and stress take a toll on your skin and result in premature aging. Lychees are loaded with flavonoids and Vitamin C that keep wrinkles, blemishes, and fine lines at bay. Also, Vitamin C boosts collagen production; this protein maintains the elasticity of your skin and improves your skin texture giving your skin a youthful glow. The high water content in this pulpy fruit keeps your skin well hydrated and cleans out the impurities – acne in particular.
Keeps Your Bones Strong
Lychee is brimming with magnesium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, and copper; all these minerals increase calcium absorption in the bones. Phosphorus and magnesium work magic on the quality and optimal strength of your bones. This juicy fruit is an excellent source of manganese and copper which reduce bone fragility. Hence, eating lychees decreases your chances of osteoporosis and fractures.
Now that you’ve learned the amazing health benefits of lychees, you’d be tempted to gorge on lychees.
But remember this juicy fruit is high on fructose, the natural fruit sugar that spikes your sugar levels. Thus, it’s best to eat in moderation. Diabetics or weight watchers can savor 5-6 medium sized lychees as an in-between snack.
By eating more than 100-gram serving at a time, you increase your blood glucose and insulin levels which trigger fat storage.
Also, avoid eating lychees, especially the unripe ones, on an empty stomach since they contain hypoglycin A and methylenecyclopropyl-glycine (MCPG); these toxins may result in vomiting and fever. Hypoglycin inhibits the body's ability to produce glucose and may cause hypoglycemia.
(As a nutritionist for Dish Hospitality, Vishruta has chalked out menus for Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Morgan Stanley. As a blogger, she focuses on teaching the art of eating smart. Love food, love life - that's her mantra.)
(For more stories on nutrition, follow FIT)
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