By: Saba Naaz – Style Craze
June 30, 2015
You can find lychee fresh or canned at you local Asian grocery store:
Viet Wah Supermarket
1032 S Jackson Street, #1032
Seattle, WA 98104
Lam’s Seafood Market
1221 S King Street
Seattle, WA 98144
Its summer – the perfect time to enjoy our favorite delicious and juicy litchis. Botanically this exotic fruit belongs to the family of Sapindadaceae and is scientifically known as Litchi chinensis. Lychee/Litchi is a tropical fruit native to low elevation lands of China, Taiwan and South East Asia. It is a seasonal fruit found in plenty during the summer seasons. It grows on a slow growing medium sized evergreen tree, in clusters and usually has a round or oval shape. This fruit has a close resemblance to longan and other rambutan fruits. The outer surface is covered with a red colored rough textured easily removable rind. Inside it consists of translucent white sweet and juicy fruit. The pulp has a single glossy brown nut like seed.
In India lychee is cultivated in Muzaffarpur, Bihar and in North India. Muzaffarpur produces 75% of India’s total litchi production.
Litchi Fruit Health Benefits:
Lychee which means “gift for loyal life” surely lives up to its name. The litchi benefits have been tried and proven in countries such as China and India and have also been well documented in ancient Chinese books. They contain many nutrients and vitamins that help to fight against various diseases as well as being a treatment for skin care, child growth and strengthening the body.
Litchi has anti-cancer properties. This fruit has flavonoids in the pulp which helps to fight fatal and lethal diseases like cancer. It contains Flavones, quercitin and kaemferol which are powerful compounds in reducing the proliferation of cancer cells. Litchi fruit provides impressive anti breast cancer properties.
- Heart Disease:
Litchi normalizes the blood pressure and heart rate thereby protecting against strokes and coronary heart diseases. 1 glass of litchi juice daily normalizes the heartbeat. Litchi contains the second highest degree of polyphenols which promotes heart health. The anti-oxidant present in litchis improves immunity, slows down the advancement of cataracts and blocks all cardiovascular diseases.
- Aids digestion:
Litchi keeps the digestion strong, maintains a clean stomach, improves appetite and cures heartburn and burning sensation in the stomach. It also enhances the energy levels in the body and contributes to the well-being of the family. The seed of litchi contains astringent properties which is utilized for intestinal tract problems and frees the body of intestinal worms. Litchis contains soluble fiber which controls bowel problems and keep the stomach free from toxic compounds and help to clean the colon.
- Maintains healthy bones:
Litchi is a wealthy source of phosphorus and magnesium which supports powerful bones and trace minerals like copper and manganese which strengthens brittle bones. Along with zinc, copper it boosts the effectiveness of Vitamin D which increases the assimilation of calcium which maintains the health of the bones.
- Vitamin C:
Litchi is an excellent source of Vitamin C, a vitamin that body does not produce naturally. Consumption of foods rich in Vitamin C helps the body to develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful pro inflammatory free radicals. It benefits those suffering from cold, fever and sore throats. Litchi also aids in digestion to get the utmost nutrition for the body. Vitamin C is good for our skin, bones and tissues and therefore is a very important vitamin for our body.
Oligonol is a low molecular weight polyphenol found abundantly in litchi fruit. Oligonol has several anti-oxidant and anti-influenza virus actions. It also helps to improve blood circulation, reduces weight and protects the skin from harmful UVA rays. Oligonol decreases deep fat, raises sideline blood circulation, decreases post exercise exhaustion, raises stamina as well as reduces facial lines and brown spots.
- Vitamin B:
Litchi is also a good source of B complex vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and folates. These Vitamins help the body to metabolize carbohydrates, protein and fats. It has a high level of Beta carotene which strengthens the immune system and improves the function of liver and other organs.
- Weight loss:
Litchi is quite low in calories, contains no saturated fats or cholesterol and is rich in dietary fiber which is very significant for people who want to lose weight.
- Improves skin conditions:
Litchis help to nourish the skin oils which reduce the growth of acne. It also refines the skin and leads to less spot on the skin.
Lychee: Skin Benefits
Lychee is an amazing source of Vitamin C and other nutrients that are beneficial for your skin. Some of the benefits of lychee in skincare are as follows.
- Anti-ageing Benefits:
Your skin starts ageing as you progress in age. But in the present scenario, pollution, UV radiation and smoke are also responsible for premature ageing which takes place faster than the natural process. Free radicals are responsible for causing skin ageing. As stated earlier, lychee is a rich source of Vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals. It also contains oligonol which fights ageing and reduces darks spots. Thus, consumption of lychee or using it in face packs is effective in vanishing signs of ageing like fine lines and dark spots.
- Protection from Free Radicals:
Lychee has a high content of the antioxidant Vitamin C, Vitamin B-complex and phytonutrient flavonoids. These antioxidants protect the body from oxidative stress caused by pollution and UV radiation. Free radicals are created from oxygen molecules and they alter the function of our cells to form cancer cells. Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals, thus protecting your skin cells from damage. In this way, lychee can protect against skin cancer and inflammation.
- Skin-Friendly Nutrients:
Lychees are a great source of skin-friendly nutrients like thiamin, niacin and copper. Thiamin assists the body in metabolizing fats and protein for healthy skin. Niacin boosts the hydration levels in the skin while copper, in small quantities, helps to speed up the healing of damaged skin. All these benefits make lychee a super fruit for your skin.
Lychee: Hair Benefits
All of us crave for a healthy scalp with long and lustrous hair. A balanced diet is vital for a healthy mane as it provides oxygen and nutrients to nourish the hair follicles. Lychee, being a good source of Vitamin C, niacin and thiamin, can be beneficial for your hair’s health in the following ways.
- Maintenance of Healthy Hair:
As mentioned earlier, lychees are a good source of Vitamin C which plays an active role in maintaining the integrity of micro-circulation, thus ensuring adequate supply of blood to your hair follicles.
How to Select and Store?
Selection: Fresh lychees are available from June to October. The fruit ripens fully on the tree itself and does not ripen further after being harvested. Over-matured fruits turn dark brown in appearance, and lose their luster and flavor. While buying lychees, choose the fruits that are bright in color, light red to deep red without blemishes. Their skin should be tough and leathery but should be pliable and not dull, dry or dark. The inner flesh should be fresh and devoid of cuts and molds. If the fruit tastes bitter or sour, it indicates that it has not ripened fully. Since lychees do not ripen further once picked, avoid the fruits that are cracked, leaking or those that smell fermented.
Storage: Lychees have a good shelf life and can be kept at room temperature for up to 5 days and refrigerated for up to 5 weeks. To prevent color change from red to brown and to avoid moisture loss, lychees should be wrapped in a paper towel and kept in a perforated plastic bag. Since lychees produce very little ethylene, they should be kept at high humidity levels and a temperature of 34-40 OF. They should not be peeled except just before serving. Lychees begin to ferment as they age, so they should be used quickly. Lychees are generally frozen or dried, and canned for export purposes.
Tips for Usage (Cooking/Eating)
These tiny juicy fruits can be eaten alone. Before proceeding to eat lychees or using them in recipes, they should be washed properly. Puncture the rough shell by cutting a little area of the shell with your finger nail. You can make use of your teeth to bite a tiny part near the stem or use a knife to cut the shell. Squeeze the exterior of the pierced shell to pop the internal flesh into your mouth. The seed is inedible, so it should be thrown off. Given below are a few tips to enjoy these delicious fruits in other ways.
- Peeled and chopped lychee slices can be added to fruit salads. They can also be served on a cheese platter.
- Lychees can be added to ice creams, custards or cocktails. They can be served with cream or yoghurt as desserts.
- Dried lychees are known as lychee nuts and they taste like raisins. They can be relished as snacks or added to desserts.
- After removing the seeds, lychees can be stuffed with cream cheese and orange rind to make a refreshing finger food.
- Lychee iced tea, martinis and lemonades are great refreshments.
- Lychee flesh can be blended with water to obtain a smooth puree. Strain the liquid and discard the pulp. Pour it into a jug, add lime juice and red syrup, and stir well. Transfer this mixture to glasses filled with ice cubes. This drink can be topped with club soda and garnished with a mint sprig before serving.
Nutritional value of Litchi fruit:
The amazing health benefits of litchi fruit are because of its rich nutritional value. Lychee is very rich in Vitamin C, and contains about 72 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams. It is also rich in copper, phosphorus, and is low in sodium. It provides many B complex Vitamins and is a good source of Fiber too. The polyphenol Oligonol has antioxidant and anti-viral properties. Litchi is hot by constitution so do not consume excess of it. It might lead to skin rashes and pimples.