Lychee is a summer superfruit! Know its nutritional value, benefits and best time to eat

Lychees are a tropical fruit that offer a rather welcoming and delightful respite from the scorching heat. It originates from the Guangdong and Fujian provinces of China, and has become popular worldwide due to its sweet taste and several health benefits. Besides being eaten as it is, lychees can be consumed as part of salads or even juices. You can also add these to smoothies. While there are canned versions of the fruit, these are often loaded with preservatives and sugar and should be avoided. Read on to know more about lychee, their benefits, and how many to eat in a day.

What is lychee?

Lychees, also called litchis, are fruits that have a hard red exterior, and a white juicy interior, with a large seed. It is a very popular fruit in Asia and comes in the summer months. They are grown in parts of India, as well as Vietnam, Indonesia, as well as Australia. It is also known as lychee. However, while it looks like a large berry, it is a fruit category called drupe, a fleshy fruit with a seed.

Lychee nutrition

Lychees are loaded with vitamins and minerals, as well as water. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, 100g of litchis contains the following nutrients.

Water: 81.7g
Energy: 66Kcal
Protein: 0.8g
Fat: 0.4g
Carbohydrates: 16.5g
Fibre: 1.3g
Calcium: 5mg
Magnesium: 10mg

Health benefits of lychees

Here are some of the benefits of eating lychees:

1. Boosts immunity

Lychee is a good source of vitamin C, that works wonders in building your immunity. In 100g of litchis, which is about 10 fruits, you get 71.5mg of vitamin C, which contributes greatly to your daily requirement (75-90mg). This helps to build immunity as well. A study, published in Food Research International, suggests that probiotic lychee juice is great for immunomodulatory function and gut microbiota. It was seen that lychee juice alleviated immune dysfunction and modified gut bacteria.

Litchis
Litchis can be eaten as a fruit, as well as juiced or added in smoothies. Image courtesy: Pexels

2. Healthy skin

Lychees can also help your skin look healthier, as it helps support the production of collagen. Collagen is required to make skin look firmer, as well as improve its elasticity. It also helps skin heal faster and protects it from sun damage. It also helps to moisten the skin, states this study, published in the journal Acta Horticulturae.

3. Makes the liver healthy

Polyphenols are present in the lychee fruit that help with liver damage. A study published in Nutrients, states that lychee can help alleviate liver steatosis, or fat buildup in your liver, as well as gut dysbiosis, bacteria in your GI tract, in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It modulates the gut bacteria to do so.

4. Lowers risk of cancer

Lychees can lower the risk of certain types of cancer such as breast cancer, colon cancer, and liver cancer. A study published in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests that lychee seed extracts can also help to diminish prostate cancer progression. The study also suggests that lychee seed extracts can prevent lung cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, liver and nasopharyngeal cancers as well.

5. High in antioxidants

Lychee extracts contain a high percentage of polyphenol and has a high antioxidant capacity. Lychees contain Epicatechin, which helps in heart health and may reduce your risk of cancer as well as diabetes, states this study, published in the journal Food Chemistry. It is also rich in Rutin, which also helps fight against chronic diseases.

The best time to eat litchis

While lychees come with a host of health benefits, they are also high in carbohydrate content and need to be eaten in the right quantity, at the right time. The best time to consume lychee is in the morning, on an empty stomach. This helps to absorb maximum nutrients. You can also have it as a mid-morning snack. However, it might be better to replace another snack with lychees, rather than add to it, as lychees contain sugar.

How many lychees can you have in a day?

Since lychees are high in sugar and calories, it is best to moderate your consumption. An adult can have around 10-12 litchis in a day. However, if you suffer from diabetes, then don’t have more than 6-8 lychees in a day. Lychees are best consumed in their fruit form, as pre-packed juices and canned versions have a lot of added sugar and preservatives.

Litchi vendors selling litchi
Litchis are grown in India, as well as Vietnam, Indonesia, as well as Australia. Image courtesy: Pexels

Side effects of eating lychees

There are some downsides of eating too many lychees as well. They can cause allergic reactions in some cases. A study, published in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, recounts the allergic reaction of a 12-year-old girl, 30 minutes after she ate a raw lychee. While this is rare, it must be taken into consideration.

Also, make sure to not have lychee right after a meal as the juice starts to ferment instantly. Since your stomach is full, it will not be absorbed.

Summary

Lychees are more than just a tasty and refreshing fruit. Their sweet, fragrant flavour and juicy texture make them a popular choice for snacks, desserts, and beverages. From boosting your immune system to supporting digestive health and providing hydration, litchis are a versatile and delicious addition to any diet.

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