Lychee | Wha is Lychee Fruit | Health Benefits of Lychee Fruit | Uses of Lychee Fruit and its Juices | Nutritional Value of Lychee Fruit
The lychee (usual English spelling) or laichi and lichu is the sole member of the genus Litchi in the soapberry family Sapindaceae. It is a tropical and subtropical fruit tree. It is primarily found in China, India, Madagascar, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Southern Africa and Mexico. It is a fragranced fruit with a sweet taste.
It is a medium-sized evergreen tree, reaching 15–20 m tall, with alternate pinnate leaves, each leaf 15–25 cm long, with 2-8 lateral leaflets 5–10 cm long; the terminal leaflet is absent. The newly emerging young leaves are a bright coppery red at first, before turning green as they expand to full size. The flowers are small, greenish-white or yellowish-white, produced in panicles up to 30 cm long.
Flowers at Samsing in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India.
The fruit is a drupe, 3–4 cm long and 3 cm in diameter. The outside is covered by a pink-red, roughly-textured rind that is inedible but easily removed. They are eaten in many different dessert dishes. The inside consists of a layer of sweet, translucent white flesh, rich in vitamin C, with a texture somewhat similar to that of a grape only much less moist. The edible flesh consists of a highly developed aril enveloping the seed. The center contains a single glossy brown nut-like seed, 2 cm long and 1–1.5 cm in diameter. The seed, similar to a buckeye seed, is not poisonous but should not be eaten. The fruit matures about 100 days after flowering.
There are two subspecies:
1. Litchi chinensis subsp. chinensis. China, Indochina (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). Leaves with 4 to 8 (rarely 2) leaflets.
2. Litchi chinensis subsp. philippinensis (Radlk.) Leenh. Philippines, Indonesia. Leaves with 2-4 (rarely 6) leaflets.
Lychee Nut is not the stone inside the fruit; instead, it refers to the whole, dried fruit. The white flesh inside turns chewy brown when dried. Watch out for the inedible stone still inside as you bite into the fruit.
Health Benefits of Lychee Fruit:
* Lychee fruits are low in calories, contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, but rich in dietary fiber which can be very important for individuals who are concerned about their excess body weight.
Nutritional Value of Lychee Fruit:
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||276 kJ (66 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||1.3 g|
|Vitamin C||72 mg (120%)|
|Calcium||5 mg (1%)|
|Magnesium||10 mg (3%|
|Phosphorus||31 mg (4%)|
* Litchi, like citrus fruits, is an excellent source of vitamin C; provides 119% of daily recommended value of vitamin C per 100 g. consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
* It is a very good source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, niacin and folates. These vitamins are essential since they function by acting as co-factors to help body metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
* Litchi also contains a very good amount of minerals like potassium and copper. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids helps control heart rate and blood pressure; thus offers protection against stroke and coronary heart diseases. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells.
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