If you have ever tried the exotic fruit, rambutan, then you know that it is quite unusual in appearance, but pleasant in flavor, and is used widely for both culinary and medicinal applications. Before adding this fruit to your diet, it is important to understand the details of the fruit, as well as the nutrient content and the potential health benefits it may hold.
What is Rambutan?
Rambutan is the fruit of rambutan tree, which belongs to the Sapindaceae family, commonly known as the soapberry family. This tree is native to the Indonesian region, as well as Malaysia, and is widely cultivated and harvested in this region. The fruit itself is about the size of a golf ball and is wrapped in a strange shell covered in reddish-orange spines, which give it the appearance of hair. However, this covering can be peeled away to reveal the pale white fruit inside. This fruit is sweet and somewhat juicy and contains a hard black seed in the middle. Often mistaken for lychee or longan, this fruit is closely related to these other tropical fruits, belonging to the same family, but there are some key differences.
Rambutan is commonly eaten raw, and is a popular favorite in many Asian countries, but is beginning to be seen more often in the rest of the world through import stores and exotic desires for health foods. Before ripening, the fruit will be covered in bright green spines that will eventually fade to the reddish-orange color, signaling that it is ready to be harvested. Not only is it relatively easy to grow and quite delicious, it is also a popular in traditional medicine, due to its diverse and unique nutrient content.
Rambutan Nutrition Facts
Rambutan is rich in manganese and also has trace amounts of zinc, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron and magnesium. Furthermore, there are a number of B vitamins and a high level of vitamin C in each small fruit. Most importantly, however, there are quite a few unique organic compounds, including cinnamic acid, vanillin and other antioxidants that help with overall health. These fruits are also low in calories, at roughly 75 grams per 100 grams of fruit. There is also a small amount of protein, dietary fiber and carbohydrates found in these fruits.
Health Benefits of Rambutan
Some of the most impressive health benefits of rambutan include its ability to aid in weight loss, improve the appearance of the skin, optimize digestion, strengthen the bones and boosts energy metabolism, among others.
There are moderate amounts of antioxidants, polyphenolic compounds and key vitamins in this fruit that can help neutralize free radicals in the system, including those that cause breakdowns in the skin. Regularly eating this fruit can help improve inflammatory conditions, while also reducing the appearance of wrinkles and stopping oxidative stress in its tracks.
Promotes Weight Loss
There are very few calories in a 100 gram serving of rambutan, only 75, to be exact. For people trying to lose weight, these fruits can help to keep you feeling full, while also regulating the digestive process and optimizing nutrient digestion so fewer carbohydrates are converted into fat, further improving weight loss efforts.
When it comes to hair care, the leaves of the rambutan tree are actually highly praised. A paste of water and crushed leaves can be put in the hair for 10-15 minutes before being washed out, as this can help improve the shine, luster, texture, and strength of your precious locks.
Despite having a low amount of fiber, it can still have an impact on your digestive processes, as almost all fruits do. This fiber can help to stimulate peristaltic motion and clear up any signs or symptoms of constipation, while also scraping excess cholesterol from the body and improving the efficiency that nutrients are taken into the body.
Improves Bone Density
With notable amounts of a half-dozen minerals, including zinc, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium, this fruit can help aid bone strength, as many of these minerals are required for the production and maintenance of your bone density, thus helping you avoid osteoporosis as you age.
Increases Energy Metabolism
The range of B vitamins available in rambutan means that the metabolic pathways in the body get a boost, which also helps in energy metabolism, namely the conversion of carbohydrates into usable energy. Having a ready supply of B vitamins in the body will help you keep a steady energy level throughout the day.
Improves Growth & Development
Few people turn to rambutan for its limited protein content but it can help improve growth and development, considering that proteins – and their component parts, amino acids, are needed by the body for the production of every cell, tissue, muscle, and drop of blood!
Treats Chronic Diseases
The antioxidant content in rambutan makes it an excellent remedy or preventative measure for chronic disease. Antioxidants like polyphenolic compounds, tannins, ellagic acid and others can neutralize free radicals before they cause cellular mutation and oxidative stress, which can lead to heart disease and cancer.
Anecdotal evidence, particularly in Chinese traditional medicine, shows that rambutan can be used to break fevers and tackle other inflammatory conditions, including gout, headaches, stomach upset and arthritis.
Few people realize that an adequate vitamin C intake is essential for the production of healthy sperm. Rambutan happens to be high in this key antioxidant vitamin, and can, therefore, help men overcome problems with virility or infertility.
Prevents Heart Diseases
One of the other benefits of vitamin C is its role in strengthening and repairing damaged blood vessel walls. This gradual breakdown can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, making rambutan an excellent defensive tool for your heart health!
How to Eat Rambutan?
Approaching a rambutan fruit can be intimidating, considering it is covered in spines that seem like a natural obstacle to enjoyment. However, these tasty little fruits can be eaten quite easily, once you know the process.
Most importantly, you need to select a ripe rambutan, or the flavor and consistency won’t be correct. At that point, cut a small slice in the middle of the outer skin covering, about halfway around. Now, simply squeeze from the opposite side as where you cut, and the small, white fruit should pop free. You can slice the fruit in half to remove the inedible seed, or you can eat the fruit raw and then spit the seed out.
Don’t discard these seeds, however, as they can often be prepared in a volatile essential oil that has a rich combination of antioxidants and can be used for other medicinal purposes when prepared properly.
There are a few things you need to be careful of when consuming rambutans, such as its impact on hypertension, diabetes, and toxicity. This is typically when the fruit is eaten after they have ripened too far, or if an excessive amount is consumed.
Hypertension: When you allow rambutan fruits to ripen too far, the sugar they contain will begin to turn into alcohol, which can be dangerous for people who are trying to control not only their cholesterol levels but also their blood pressure. If you have hypertension problem, speak to a doctor before adding these fruits to your diet.
Diabetes: A similar problem has been observed in people with Type 2 diabetes. When they eat excessively ripe rambutan, it can cause a spike in blood sugar that can be dangerous for those diagnosed with this condition, as well as those at high risk.
Potential Toxicity: Some people think of rambutan seeds in the same way as sunflower seeds or other edible seeds, but these seeds need to be cooked to neutralize some of the toxic components they contain.