The lychee is a small evergreen tree, bearing small fleshy fruit. The outside of the fruit is a covering of pink - red roughly textured and inedible skin. The inside is sweet flesh eaten in many different dessert dishes. Since the perfume like flavor of the lychee is lost in the process of canning, the fruit is usually eaten fresh. The lychee is the sole member of the genus Litchi in the Soapberry family, Sapindaceace.
The lychee tree is a tropical tree native to Guangdong and Fujian provinces of China where cultivation is documented from 1059 A.D. China is the main producer of lychees followed by India, other countries in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and South Africa produce lychees, but lychees are grown in tropical climates worldwide.
I did not have any experience with lychee fruit while in the produce department. The first time I ever saw lychee fruit was when my daughter brought over a bag full from her future mother in law's yard. They were easy to peal and deliciously sweet. When I found out all the health benefits of lychee fruit, I was hooked.
Lychees contain the following health benefits:
- Disease -Fighting Flavonoids - Lychees contain quercetin, a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, cancer fighting heart healthy kaempherol and more.
- Antioxidant Protection - Lychees are rich in antioxidant vitamin C with more than 100 % of the RDA of vitamin C in one cup.
- Heart Health - The flavonoids, fiber, and antioxidants in lychee may support heart health.
- Blood Regulation - The nutrients in lychee including magnesium, copper, iron, vitamin C, manganese, and folate are required fora blood circulation and formation.
- Rutin - Lychees have one of the highest concentrations of polyphenols among fruits. Among them is rutin, a bioflavonoid known to strengthen blood vessels,
- Anti-inflammatory Benefits - Flavonoid rich lychee fruit extract has been found to suppress inflammation and tissue damage caused by high-intensity exercise training and researchers believe may even be used to treat inflammatory diseases.
- Vitamin C - One of the most prominent nutrients in lychee is vitamin C which has many functions in the human body including acting as an essential cofactor in enzygmatic reactions. Vitamibn C has been found to play a role in preventing the common cold, cancer, osteoarthritis, age-related macular degeneration, asthma and more.
- Mitochondrial Health - Lychee pulp contains large amounts of phenolic compounds and exhibits antioxidant activities, In an animal study lychee pulp phenols protected against stress-induced liver injury by modulating mitochondrial dysfunction. The researchers concluded that lychee pulp may be a functional biofactor to mitigate oxidative stress.
- Anti-Viral Activity - Certain proanthocyanidins in lychee seeds have shown powerful anti-viral activity including against coxsackie and herpes simplex virus.
- More Antioxidant Power than vitamin C, additional proantocyanidins in lychee seeds showed more potent antioxidant activity than vitamin C.
Eating a Lychee:
1. Choose a ripe lychee - a firm red fruit that gives a little when squeezed .
2. Peel the end of the lychee to reveal the semi-translucent flesh.
3. Squeeze to pop out the flesh or tear off the skin.
4. Gently tear apart the flesh and pick out the glossy brown seed and discard it. The seed is slightly poisonous.
Ways to Eat Lychee:
1. A Sweet Main Dish: Prepare lean beef, chicken, or pork with your favorite flavoring, and top with a lychee sauce made with lychee sauce made with lychees, golden raisins, and red onions.
2. Combine fat free cream cheese, lychee pulp, chopped pecans, a hint of pineapple or orange juice, and shredded coconut. It makes an appetizer served in lychee shells
3. Top off your breakfast with sliced lychee. They are great with pancakes, waffles, and crapes. Add other fruit such as strawberries and pineapple for color and flavor.
4. Make a jam by blending lychee pulp, lemon juice, pineapple juice, apple sauce, and a little cinnamon and sugar.
5. Chopped lychees make a great topping for any salad,
So..... Eat up. Enjoy. I show you how.
Lychee Lime Lassi (Yogurt Drink)
1 cup yogurt (Lemon - lime)
1/2 TBS honey
1/2 cup seeded and chopped lychees
6 ice cubes
Juice of 1 fresh lime
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth and frothy. Enjoy !
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