You may have seen this fruit on the back of a juice carton or bottle, but are you aware of litchi’s numerous health benefits? The litchi or lychee is a drupe (fleshy fruit, such as a peach, plum, or cherry, usually having a single hard stone that encloses a seed). It is usually oval, heart-shaped or nearly round, measuring about 3–5 cm long and 3 cm in diameter and weighs about 10g. The ripe litchi is pink-red. Its outer surface is covered with a rough, leathery rind, which is inedible, but easily comes off when the fruit is ripe. Its inner part is made up of a translucent, milky white, juicy pulp that has a floral smell and a fragrant, sweet flavour. The seed is however not considered safe for consumption.
The litchi fruit is very nutritious. It contains flavonoids in its pulp, which have been found to be effective against breast cancer in particular by the Zhejiang Gonshang University and the West China Hospital at Sichuan University in China. Litchis are very rich in vitamin C, a vitamin that the body does not produce naturally, that enables the body to fight heart disease and cancer, and that is necessary for a well-functioning immune system, in addition to the good heath of our teeth, bones and skin.
The litchi fruit also contains potassium, an essential mineral that helps regulate our heart rhythms and also an electrolyte which helps muscle contraction and fluid balance; B vitamins, specifically riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 and folate that are essential for red blood cell health and metabolic processes, in addition to magnesium and phosphorus which support strong bones. Litchis are also low in saturated fat and sodium and are cholesterol free.
Published on January 2013