About the Lychee
The lychee is a fruit native to China, but cultivation has now spread into all subtropical regions of the world. The tree can grow from 30 to 40 ft (10-12 m), with low spreading branches, a straight, harsh trunk, dark bark and a dense, round top. The fruit hangs from the tree in trusses and has a tender, acidic flesh, leaving a really refreshing, rose-like taste on your tongue.
Lychees at the groceries must be fresh and completely ripe, which can be known by the pink/intense red colour on the outside and the pearly tone on the inside. It is a sweet fruit of delicate consistency, adding not only a new taste and colour to your dishes, but also a large amount of nutrients.
How to preserve and consume lychees
Lychee is a fruit that needs refrigeration until the moment of consumption at an appropriate temperature around 2-4ºC and a humidity of approximately 90%.
Ripening time can be extended up to two weeks if the fruit is preserved inside a plastic bag. After two weeks, lychees start fermentating and increase their acidity. But the optimal way of preserving this fruit is by freezing it for as long as an entire year.
To have a lychee out of hand raw, peel it and eat it right way, removing the seed inside. Most typical way of eating lychees is thrown in salads or in fruit salads as a dessert. It can also be used in confectionery, ice-creams, sodas, sauces and different jams.
Nutritional properties of the lychee
|LYCHEE NUTRITION FACTS – 100 G|
|TOTAL FAT||0.44 g – 1%|
|SATURATED FAT||0.099 g – 0%|
|POLYUNSATURATED FAT||0.132 g|
|MONOUNSATURATED DAT||0.12 g|
|CHOLESTEROL||0 mg – 0%|
|SODIUM||1 mg – 0%|
|TOTAL CARBOHYDRATE||16.53 g – 6%|
|DIETARY FIBER||1.3 g – 5%|
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Health benefits of the lychee
- Lychees contain a lot of vitamin C, making it ideal for people who need a vitamin intake, but cannot consume citrus or other vegetables.
- It is also a natural anti-oxidant of great effect, which is very good for people with high levels of cholesterol.
- Lychees are also rich in potassium and low in sodium.
- Their seeds and flesh are rich in fibre, so they are used as a natural laxative with low fat content.
- Lychees have a component, the oligosol (abbr. of oligomer polyphenol) providing a whole bunch of properties: fat reduction, better blood circulation, less fatigue and more resilience. The oligosol also helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots.
- Lychees inhibit the growth of cancer cells. This is because it is one of the fruits with higher levels of polyhpenol, which is a chemical, but natural substance ideal for people with a cardiovascular condition.
- Lychees are good for your immune system because of their high content in vitamin C (40% more than oranges). This prevents common colds, sore throats and diverse inflammations.
- They help lose weight: lychees have an extremely low level of calories and saturated fats. They are also fibre-rich and help improve your blood circulation.
- They are good for your gastrointestinal health: the fleshy part is a fantastic antacid used to treat heartburns, nausea and dyspepsia.
- They are good for your bone health: it is a great source of phosphorus and magnesium, so it helps maintain your bones strong.
- Lychees are considered one of the few fruits with a high content in copper, a mineral that helps produce red cells, preventing anemia. Besides, copper increases the effectiveness of vitamin D, which is responsible for the calcium absorption in your body.
- Lychees also help ease away stress, because it is a source of vitamin B6 (the so-called ‘anti-stress vitamin’).
This fruit has only a few varieties cultivated worldwide. The different varieties can be classified by harvest season, type of tree and fruit characteristics, being the most important:
- Bengal: heart-shaped and an approximate weight of 0.7 oz (20 g). Glossy, red-coloured skin of great quality.
- Brewster: oblong-shaped and an approximate weight of 0.65 oz (19 g). Glossy, red-coloured. It has an acidic taste and an acceptable quality. A very similar variety is the Floridian, although the fruit size is smaller.
- Haak Yip: oval-shaped and an approximate weight of 0.6 oz (17 g). Matt red-coloured. It excels for its great quality.
- No Mai Chee Late: heart-shaped fruit presenting a colour between yellow and glossy red. Premium quality.
- Salathiel: oval-shaped and an approximate weight between 0.5-0.6 oz (15-18 g). It has a very nice flavour and a thick, yellow/red-coloured skin.
- Tai So: sweet&sour flavour. The fruit can be oval or heart-shaped and can weight around 0.8 oz (24 g). It is glossy red and turns darker as it ripens.
- Wai Chee: this variety is sweet and presents a red colour with shades of yellow. It can weight around 0.6 oz (17 g) and the fruit is round and small.
Curious facts about lychees
- It is also known as Chinese plum or Chinese grape. It is also considered one of the nature’s most exquisite fruit.
- In Chinese culture, lychees are usually used as an aphrodisiac.
- Lychee honey (much appreciated in China) can be extracted from the flowers.
- The skin is used to prevent dysentery and eczemas.
- In Madagascar, lychees are used in beverages for appetizers.
- Thailand grows several seedless varieties, resulting in smaller pieces of fruit.