- Apr 02, 2018 -
With the first mention found in Chinese literature circa 1059 A.D., ensuing centuries took lychee production from Burma in the 1600s to India a century later, the West Indies in 1775, and to French and English greenhouses by the 19th century. Because it does best in warm, humid climates, lychee thrived in Hawaii, Florida, and then California in the latter years of the 1800s. Lychees are an international fruit now, from Australia to Brazil, Burma to Africa.
Lychee yields can be pretty impressive, with the average 5-year-old tree in India producing 500 fruits, and a 20-year-old tree 4,000 to 5,000 fruits. One in Florida produced a record 1,200 tons of lychee in a year. There seems to be an important differentiation between two types: those leaking juice and those that don't, as well as the appearance of the seed. A narrow "chicken tongue" seed may mean a tougher, almost nut-like flesh.
Lychees keep well, offering perhaps better-than-fresh quality after a few weeks of storage. They turn brown, which sometimes indicates increased sweetness.
Dried lychees are larger but similar to raisins, and a prized delicacy in some countries. Sealed well, they can be stored for as long as a year. Fresh or dried, lychees can be chopped into fruit or green salads. Stuffed lychees are popular with cream cheese and nuts.
But like other little-known fruits, lychee is being exploited by interests hoping to make good on this super-fruit by turning it into a high-cost supplement drink or capsule. The best way to get the best of the fruit is to simply eat it.
Health Benefits of Lychee
Ancient Chinese legend has it that dedication to the health benefits of lychee prompted consumption of several hundred lychees per day. The results of this practice aren't reported. But there is medical proof that lychees can relieve coughing, ease abdominal pain, and have a positive effect on tumors and swollen glands. The seeds are prescribed for testicular inflammation and neuralgia pain.
Tea made from lychee peelings is said to cure smallpox and diarrhea. In India, the seeds are ground to make tea for stomach trouble. Parts of the bark, root, and lychee flowers are gargled for sore throat.
Lychee is rich in dietary fiber to help maintain optimum regularity and a healthy weight. One of this fruit's most plentiful and unique nutrients is oligonol, which contains a number of valuable antioxidants with the ability to fight flu viruses, improve blood flow, and protect the skin from UV rays.
Lychee is loaded with vitamin C, providing 119% of the recommended daily value in one serving. This further protects against colds and other infections, helps the body develop resistance, and fights inflammation.
Other nutritive ingredients in lychee include high levels of B vitamins, such as vitamin B6, as well as potassium (which helps help control heart rate and blood pressure and stave off strokes and heart disease), thiamin, niacin, folate, and copper (which produces red blood cells, maintains healthy bones, prevents thyroid problems, and anemia). All these are vital for maintaining carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolization.
However, consume lychees in moderation because they contain fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.
Note: There have been reports of allergies associated with eating lychee fruit.
Lychee Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
Calories from Fat4
Total Fat0 g1%
Saturated Fat0 g0%
Total Carbohydrates17 g6%
Dietary Fiber1 g5%
Vitamin A 0%Vitamin C119%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Studies on Lychee
Scientists studied lychee fruits, known to possess rich amounts of flavonoids, polyphenols, and proanthocyanidins. Lychee seeds are proven to inhibit breast and liver cancer cell growth.
Because lychee extracts hadn't been tested on colorectal cancer, a new study was undertaken to examine its effects on the proliferation, cell cycle, and cell death of two colorectal cancer cell lines. The result: significantly increased colorectal cancer cell death and arrested cell cycle in vitro, evidence that lychee extracts can be considered a potential chemopreventive agent for colorectal cancer.