Lychee is known for its sweet flavor, which makes them a great addition to ice cream, wine, and processed juices. This small tropical fruit was solely cultivated in China for thousands of years, but today you can find the plant in other regions, including Australia, Vietnam, and the United States.
Besides being widely known for its amazing taste, it offers several other benefits. Read on as we discuss the nutritional composition and health benefits of adding lychee to your diet.
Lychee contains mostly water and carbs, which make up 82% and 16.5% of the fruit, respectively. Data from the USDA shows that a 100-gram serving of lychees contains the following nutrients:
Lychees are also a decent source of various vitamins and minerals. One lychee provides around 9% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. It also supplies small amounts of copper and potassium.
Like other fruits, lychees are high in antioxidant compounds. In fact, scientists have found that they contain higher levels of antioxidant polyphenols than most other fruits. Some of the antioxidants in the tasty fruit include epicatechin and rutin, which protect against chronic diseases.
Lychee’s rich nutritional composition means that it offers a host of health benefits, which include:
Like most fruits and vegetables, lychee contains a significant amount of dietary fiber. The fiber content helps add bulk to stools, improving your digestive health. As a result, bowel movements are likely to move smoothly through the digestive tract.
In addition, fiber may stimulate the motion of the small intestine muscles, increasing the speed at which food passes. It may also stimulate gastric and digestive juices, so your body can absorb nutrients more efficiently.
One study found that lychee fiber content reduces abdominal obesity, constipation, and other gastrointestinal disorders. To cap it, lychee flavanol has anti-inflammatory properties that have positive effects on the liver.
Lychee has phenolic compounds that have been associated with various health benefits, including anti-influenza activity. The fruit’s oligonol serves as an antioxidant, preventing the flu virus from multiplying.
Furthermore, the tasty fruit is rich in vitamin C, containing your daily requirement in a single serving. Vitamin C serves as an immunity booster, stimulating white blood cells to defend the body against foreign materials.
Research by the National Key Laboratory of Biotherapy, Sichuan University, China found that lychee’s pericarp contains polyphenolic compounds with antioxidant properties. These compounds have been found to have anticancer potential against liver cancer.
What’s more, lychee is rich in organic compounds, so you can consume it as a preventive measure against various cancers. A 2006 study found that extract gotten from lychee fruit can induce apoptosis and stop the growth of breast cancer cells.
Researchers also believe that lychee seed extracts can be used in alternative prostate cancer treatments. However, more human studies are required to corroborate these findings.
The high potassium and low sodium content in Lychee means it can help your body maintain a fluid balance. Fluid balance is integral for metabolism and it also reduces the risk of hypertension.
Potassium is considered a vasodilator, meaning that it prevents the muscles from tightening and ensures that blood vessels don’t get constricted. A study found that the oligonol in lychee fruit is also a vasodilator.
The potassium content in dried lychee is 3 times more than in fresh lychee, so consider eating the fruit in its dried form to harness these benefits.