7 Amazing Benefits of Lychee Fruit

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Lychee is a wonderful fruit with plenty of health benefits, including its potential ability to aid in weight loss, protect the skin, boost the immune system, improve digestion, build strong bones, lower blood pressure, defend the body against viruses, improve circulation, and optimize metabolic activities.

What is Lychee?

Lychee, which has the scientific name Litchi chinensis is in the soapberry family, but is the only member of its genus, meaning that it is quite unique in the world. It is a fruit tree that can grow in tropical and subtropical climates and is native to China. It smells very much like a flower and is often used to flavor cocktails and dishes because of its unique scent, which is lost if not consumed fresh. The fruit is primarily eaten as a dessert in Asian nations and is growing popular in other parts of the world too.

The fruit has been cultivated for more than 4,000 years in China and was once considered a great delicacy of the Imperial Court. It is now cultivated in many nations around the world, but the main production still resides in Southeast Asia, China, India, and Southern Africa.

Lychee is soft and pulpy, white or pink in color, and the size is usually about 2 inches in height and width. They are highly eminent in countries around the world because of their health and medicinal benefits, which are due to the wealth of nutrients and organic compounds present in them. However, far more nutrients are present in dried lychee than in fresh lychee, so if you want to consume this for your overall health, forgo the sweet smell and allow the fruit to dry.

Nutrition Facts

Litchis, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]81.76
Energy 66
Energy [kJ]276
Protein [g]0.83
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.44
Ash [g]0.44
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]16.53
Fiber, total dietary [g]1.3
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]15.23
Calcium, Ca [mg]5
Iron, Fe [mg]0.31
Magnesium, Mg [mg]10
Phosphorus, P [mg]31
Potassium, K [mg]171
Sodium, Na [mg]1
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.07
Copper, Cu [mg]0.15
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.06
Selenium, Se [µg]0.6
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]71.5
Thiamin [mg]0.01
Riboflavin [mg]0.07
Niacin [mg]0.6
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.1
Folate, total [µg]14
Folate, food [µg]14
Folate, DFE [µg]14
Choline, total [mg]7.1
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.07
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.4
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.1
14:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.07
18:0 [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.12
16:1 [g]0
18:1 [g]0.12
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.13
18:2 [g]0.07
18:3 [g]0.07
Tryptophan [g]0.01
Lysine [g]0.04
Methionine [g]0.01
Sources include : USDA [1]

Nutritional Value of Lychee or Litchi

According to USDA lychee is packed with many nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, folate, copper, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese. Furthermore, lychee is a great source of dietary fiber, protein, and a good source of proanthocyanidins and polyphenolic compounds. [2]

Health Benefits of Lychee

Along with helping you enhance your appearance, lychee also helps in treating digestive issues, increasing blood circulation, and much more. Let’s explore its benefits in detail.

May Aid in Digestion

The significant amount of dietary fiber in lychee, as in most fruits and vegetables, may help add bulk to your stool and possibly increase your digestive health. This may help bowel movements move through the digestive tract smoothly, and fiber may also stimulate peristaltic motion of the smooth small intestine muscles, possibly increasing the speed of food passing. It may also stimulate gastric and digestive juices, so the absorption of nutrients is efficient. This can reduce constipation and other gastrointestinal disorders. It may also help reduce abdominal obesity, according to a study cited in the Journal of Functional Foods. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory properties of flavanol-rich lychee also possess hepatoprotective effects, as per the PLOS One journal. [3] [4] [5]

May Boost Immunity

Perhaps the most significant nutrient in lychee is vitamin C, and this fruit has more than 100% of the daily requirement of ascorbic acid in a single serving. This may mean that your immune system gets a major boost, as vitamin C is a major antioxidant compound and is known to stimulate the activity of white blood cells, which are the main defensive line of your body’s immune system. [6] [7]

A wooden bowl filled with lychee and kept on a wooden table

Lychee is native to Southeast Asia and has been a favourite fruit of the Cantonese since ancient times. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

May Improve Cognition

Researchers from the Southwest Medical University have published a study in the Nutrients journal which highlights the neuroprotective effect of lychee seeds. The study demonstrates significant improvement in cognitive function and prevention of neuronal injury in the rat model affected by Alzheimer’s disease. [8]

Potentially Antiviral

The proanthocyanidins in lychee have been studied extensively, and they have also demonstrated antiviral capabilities by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Litchitannin A2, a compound found in lychee, has been closely connected to preventing the spread or outbreak of viruses, including herpes simplex virus and coxsackievirus. [9]

May Help Control Blood Pressure

Lychee has a wealth of potassium, meaning that it can help your body maintain a fluid balance; it is also possibly low in sodium, which helps too. Fluid balance is an integral part not only of metabolic functions but also in hypertension. Potassium is considered to be a vasodilator, meaning that it reduces the constriction of blood vessels and arteries, thereby lowering the stress on the cardiovascular system. Potassium levels are almost three times higher in dried lychee rather than in fresh lychee! Furthermore, Dr. Mahesh Thirunavukkarasu et al., University of Connecticut Health Center, USA, in a study has revealed that oligonol derived from lychee fruit too is a vasodilator. [10]

Possibly Anti-influenza

This powerful phenolic compound found in lychee has been connected to a number of important health benefits, including anti-influenza activity, an improvement in blood circulation, reduction in weight, and the protection of your skin from harmful UV rays when exposed to the sun. It also demonstrates considerable antioxidant capabilities, just like ascorbic acid, and other proanthocyanidins in lychee. [11]

May Improve Blood Circulation

Copper is another essential mineral found in considerable quantities in lychee, and although iron is most commonly associated with red blood cells, copper is also an integral part of RBC formation. Therefore, the copper content in lychee can boost blood circulation and may increase the oxygenation of the organs and cells. [12]

Word of Caution: Since lychees are a very good source of sugars, diabetics should be careful when eating lychees since they can unbalance their blood sugar levels. Also, lychees are considered a “hot” food, meaning that they can sometimes unbalance the body’s nutrient levels. Excessive consumption of lychees can result in irritated membranes, bleeding nose, fever, or a sore throat. However, in normal quantities, there are no inherent health risks.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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