With the showery spring now well established and summer approaching, you may be keen to incorporate some alternative fresh, new ingredients into your diet. Part of the Sapindaceae family (also responsible for maple and rambutan) the Chinese originated lychee has been utilised as much in traditional medicine as it has in traditional cuisine in various parts of the East. Naturally sweet and elegantly floral, this distinctively textured fruit will not only make your kitchen appear notably more decorative, but provide you with numerous nutritional gains into the bargain. Discover why you might like to add this to your shopping basket as we go through the Top 5 Health Benefits of Lychee!
1. Helps improve cognitive health and prevent neurodegenerative disease
Beneath the fleshy fruit of the lychee is a large chestnut-like seed, which is rich in saponins. Saponins are known for their cholesterol lowering and immunity strengthening attributes, however a study conducted in 2017 found that lychee seed saponins can significantly improve cognitive functioning, while also regulating the brain’s apoptosis (cell death) pathway. By increasing the brain’s defence mechanisms, diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may potentially be prevented.
2. Potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory
The lychee contains a high concentration of polyphenolic (antioxidant) compounds known as ‘flavonoids’. Flavonoids are mainly recognised as being responsible for giving vivid colour to foods, but beyond their decorative qualities they may also help to regulate LDL (or bad) cholesterol, prevent damage from free-radicals and even potentially inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
3. Helps convert fat into Energy
A typical 100g serving of lychees contain well over 100% of the UK RDA of vitamin C for adults. In addition to its immune strengthening qualities, vitamin C also plays a role in the body’s production of carnitine (a name you may have come across if you regularly browse nutritional supplements for weight training). As well as being recognised as an appetite suppressant, carnitine is an amino acid that aids in transferring fat into energy.
4. Treats sunburn
The benefits of lychees aren’t limited to its internal consumption! When combined with vitamin E oil, the pulp of the fruit can be used to treat symptoms of sunburn such as rash, irritation, and swelling. This is due to the high concentration of vitamin C that helps restore the skin, while vitamin E oil soothes damage already caused.
5. Helps strengthen bones
Lychee is rich in minerals, including phosphorous, which works closely together with calcium to ensure strong and healthy bones. Other minerals such as magnesium, copper, and iron present in lychees also assist in the absorption rate or uptake of calcium into the bones.
If you’ve noticed this exotic fruit in your local Asian supermarket but haven’t tried it, then hopefully this article has inspired you to give it a try. Whether you want to increase your intake of vitamin C, ensure you get your essential minerals, burn fat, or simply explore a delicious sweet, fragrant, flavourful fruit experience – these Chinese ‘symbols of love’ are a wholesome addition to any diet! Love lychees? Tell us about it below or @ KeepfitKingdom !