Lychee is a tropical fruit that probably not everyone knows, but it boasts countless beneficial properties for our health, especially by virtue of the antioxidant agents it contains.
Lychee is the fruit of the Litchi chinensis or China Cherry plant, also known as Desert Grape, belonging to the Sapindaceae family, which also includes maple and horse chestnut.
It is an evergreen tree that produces red fruits with white flesh. In addition to China, this tropical fruit also comes from India and South Africa and currently the lychee plant is also cultivated in Southern Italy, where there are favorable climatic conditions.
The fruit is rounded, a few centimeters in diameter, with a pinkish skin with a wrinkled consistency, which contains a white pulp with a sweet flavor.
Lychee: calories and nutritional properties
Compared to other fruits, lychee has a medium-high calorie content, around 70 calories per 100 g, but most of the fruit is actually made up of water and the protein and lipid component is scarce, so the most present macronutrients are carbohydrates, partly represented by fibers.
These are fruits rich in antioxidant compounds including anthocyanins and vitamins, in particular water-soluble vitamins, of groups B and C. The vitamin C content is quite high. We see below the table with the nutritional values of lychee.
Nutritional values per 100g of lychees:
- Kcal: 70
- Carbohydrates: 17.2 g
- Fat: 0.1 g
- Proteins: 1.1 g
- Fibers: 1.3 g
- Waterfall: 80.6 g
- Iron: 0.5 mg
- Soccer: 2 mg
- Sodium: 1 mg
- Potassium: 150 mg
- Phosphorus: 12 mg
- Zinc: 0.2 mg
- Magnesium: 6 mg
- Copper: 0.11 mg
- Sulfur: 19 mg
- Vitamin B1: 0.05 mg
- Vitamin B2: 0.07 mg
- C vitamin: 49 mg
Lychee: the health benefits
Lychees have many beneficial properties for our health by virtue of their content in vitamin C and other antioxidant compounds. These fruits, in fact, contain antioxidants even to a greater extent than grapes. 100 g of lychees provide about 65% of the daily requirement of vitamin C. Now let’s see in detail what are the benefits of lychees.
✓ They protect the heart
The potassium and magnesium contained in lychees are mineral salts that play a fundamental role in our cardiovascular system. Potassium in particular modulates blood pressure by preventing hypertension.
✓ Protect blood vessels
In addition to promoting cardiovascular functions, lychees have protective properties of blood vessels thanks to the action of antioxidant agents, molecules that play an important role in the repair of the vessel walls.
✓ They help intestinal functions
The fibers present in these fruits facilitate intestinal transit and stimulate the secretion of gastric juices, thus favoring the digestive process with positive effects for the entire gastrointestinal system.
✓ Support the immune system
The extraordinary amount of vitamin C contained in lychees makes them excellent allies of our immune system. In addition to protecting all the cells of the body from free radical damage with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, vitamin C favors the defense mechanisms that our body puts in place through the cells of the immune system.
✓ They have anti-inflammatory properties
Lychees help to counteract the inflammatory processes underlying many pathologies. Inflammatory processes can in fact be acute, i.e. temporary, or chronic, i.e. persist over time, and the latter are connected with various types of pathologies, ranging from arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases. These fruits exert their anti-inflammatory activity through the antioxidants and vitamins they contain.
✓ They counteract aging
Once again, it is the antioxidant agents (flavonoids, anthocyanins, vitamin C) that give these fruits important properties. In fact, these molecules counteract cellular aging which is the main cause of many inflammatory and degenerative diseases.
✓ They help keep our body hydrated
As we have seen, about 80% of the content of this fruit is represented by water, so it is a highly moisturizing food, thus helping us to maintain the hydro-saline balance of our body.
Lychee: how to eat it and how to use it
Now let’s see how to eat the lychee fruit and some tips to include it in our daily diet and be able to take advantage of the multiple benefits of these exotic fruits.
First of all, to eat the lychees it is necessary to deprive them of the leathery skin that surrounds the white internal pulp with a sweet flavor. At this point we can consume them naturally, paying attention to the internal stone, or deprive them of the stone and use the pulp to prepare recipes or delicious extracts with a tropical flavor (you could, for example, experiment with other exotic fruits such as pineapple or mango).
As already mentioned, we can enjoy this fresh and natural fruit, just as we would eat any other fruit, for example at breakfast, or in mid-morning and afternoon snacks, perhaps accompanied by a yogurt or fresh cheese. Alternatively, you can use this tropical fruit as an ingredient for fruit salads, jams or sorbets.
Lychees can also become delicious ingredients for making fish -based second courses, giving these dishes a touch of freshness. You can also go classic, using them for the preparation of sweet desserts, such as sorbets, puddings, cheesecakes, fresh fruit tarts. In short, it will be our imagination to guide us!
Contraindications of lychees
Due to the high sugar content, lychee is not recommended for those suffering from diabetes and those who regularly take anti-inflammatory or immunomodulatory drugs as it could interfere with their metabolism. Sometimes, and in certain people, it could cause allergic reactions.
As with all foods, however, if eaten in adequate quantities, without exaggerating, it can only give us all its nutritional qualities. It is in fact particularly suitable for sportsmen because of its moisturizing power and the mineral salts and sugars it contains.
Litchi: where to find them
Usually the lychees are sold fresh and it is possible to find them in Asian shops, but for some time now, also in the medium and large distribution. Sometimes you can also find them in the local markets of our cities. You can also buy them online. If you don’t buy them too ripe, you can keep them at room temperature or in the refrigerator for about one or two weeks.