Lychees are an ancient Chinese symbol of love, beauty and wellbeing with potent antioxidants & cancer-fighting powers!
Super Powers & Health Benefits of Lychees
- Potent Antioxidant
- Immune Boosting
- Improved Circulation/Decreased Stroke Risk
- Digestive Aid
Secret Compounds in Lychees
- Polyphenols – plant compounds that act as antioxidants, which are thought to be anti-aging and instrumental in protecting against degenerative ailments like as cancer and heart disease.
- Oligonol – an antioxidant starting to get a lot of attention! Initial studies indicate that, in concentrated form, it can deter proliferation of the flu virus and also improves cardiovascular function, reduces visceral fat, reduces exercise fatigue and improves skin health and appearance.
- Flavonoids – another group of antioxidants, which appear to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
- Vitamin C – boosts immunity and helps the body fight diseases and cancer more effectively. Also helps repair damaged tissues, the formation of blood vessels and the absorption of iron. (Lychee has 40% more Vit-C than orange juice!)
- Potassium – helps normalize heart rhythm, regulate blood pressure and decreases chance of stroke. Also helps sustain metabolism as well as fluid and electrolyte level.
Identifying the Lychee
The Lychee grows on trees and originates in southern China but is grown in many Southeast Asian countries…and lucky for us, it’s becoming more widely available. Why? Because it’s delicious, and even better, it’s good for us. Yeah!
This fruit is easily identifiable, because it’s a bit unusual looking. Lychees are roundish in shape, 1.5 to 2 inches in size and have a pink, bumpy exterior. Before eating, just peel off this outer cover to get to reveal the prize. Inside, you’ll find the whitish-pink pulp, which is juicy and glossy.
Lychees are best fresh, which is also when you’ll get the most health benefits from them. But, you can also find them canned or dried. If they’re keeping a low profile around your regular grocery store, try an Asian supermarket. They’re usually quite affordable.
The Nom-Nom Factor
We’ll level with you, kids. The Lychee’s nom-nom factor is off the charts. Its flavor is completely unique and a bit hard to describe, though some compare it to a fusion of pear, strawberry and grape. These fruits are sweet and low-acid but have a very fresh, crisp taste and a fragrant aroma.
With only 66 calories per, a 100g serving of lychees (about a cup) has more vitamin C than oranges — and about as much dietary fiber as an apple.
The Lychee: Chinese Symbol of Love, Beauty & Well-being
According to ancient Chinese culture, the lychee is a symbol of love, beauty and wellbeing. And if this sweet, succulent fruit could talk, it would most certainly have imperial tales of love, war and intrigue to tell!
The most famous tale takes us to 8th century China. Tang Dynasty Emperor Xuanzong ordered couriers to ride non-stop to deliver fresh lychees from the south (some 600 miles away!), all to woo his beloved royal consort, Yang Yuhuan. The fruit was delivered day and night, ensuring that the beauty always had her favorite treat. This lychee-loving lady eventually lost her life to save the Emperor from a rebellion.
Lychee benefits have been touted in Chinese literature as early as the 11th century, when it was first officially named the world’s romantic fruit and a sign of love, affection and sensuality. The book states that to win a lady’s heart, a man should give her a fruit basket filled with lychees. (That one’s on the house, guys.)
“Beneath these green mountains where spring rules the year…and feasting on lychee, 300 a day, I shouldn’t mind staying eternally here.” ~Su Shi, 11th century Chinese poet
The Chinese have enjoyed the lychee and used it for health and wellbeing for at least two thousand years…but something this delectable and full of health superpowers couldn’t remain an undercover Chinese secret forever!
Lychee Research from the Lab
Potent Antioxidant. Lychees contains an abundant amount of polyphenols, a plant compound known for its antioxidant and anti-aging properties. Studies are showing that polyphenols are helpful in protecting against degenerative ailments like heart disease and cancer. Lychees have more polyphenols than grapes!
Cancer-Fighting. Flavonoids in lychee were found to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in several studies. The lychee pulp seemed especially effective against human breast cancer. Hopefully, with more studies and experimentation, lychee can play a part in breast cancer prevention and treatment.
Immune Boosting. Being very rich in vitamin C means lychees have immune-boosting properties! Vit-C helps the body to develop a higher resistance to infection sand to fight diseases and cancer more effectively. Other important functions include helping the body repair damaged tissues, form blood vessels and absorb iron. Lychees contains 40% more vitamin C than orange juice. A 100g serving provides about 70 mg, or 117% of the recommended daily value.
Improved Circulation & Decreased Stroke Risk. When extracted from the lychee and concentrated, Olignol has also been shown to improve blood flow, by gently relaxing blood vessels. This can result in improved circulation and cardiovascular function. Lychees are also very high in Potassium, which helps normalize heart rhythm, regulate blood pressure and decreases chance of stroke.
Digestive Aid. Lychees are a good source of dietary fiber. A 100g serving (about a cup) provides 1.4 grams of fiber. Dietary fiber helps prevent constipation and clears the digestive tract of toxins. Lychees also have very high water content. These factors make the fruit an excellent aid for digestion. In Asian countries like China and India, Lychee is considered a good antacid and is used to relieve acidity, nausea and dyspepsia.
Lychee Research References
- “The Journal of Nutrition”; Daily Polyphenol Intake in France from Fruit and Vegetables; Pierre Brat, et al.; 2006
- “Phytomedicine”; Oligonol a Low Molecular Weight Polyphenol of…; L. Gangehei, et al; Nov. 2010
- Takuya Sakurai (Kyorin University, Japan), Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem., 72(2), 463-476, 2008.
- Dietary flavonoids as cancer prevention agents.
- USDA Nutritional Information