Lychee, also known as litchi or lichee is a fruit known for its sweet and flowery flavour. Lychees are typically eaten fresh, used in ice creams, or processed into juice, wine, and jelly. They are covered with pink-red skin that is removed before consumption. Here are the health benefits of the highly nutritious lychees.
Lychees are made up mainly of water and carbohydrates, with water at 82% and carbs at 16.5%. The sugars that are responsible for its sweet taste also account for the high carbs. It also has some calories, protein, sugar, fibre, fat, vitamin C, B vitamins and minerals including copper, magnesium, and potassium.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that boosts the body’s immunity and ability to fight pathogens and infections. Copper is an essential mineral that plays a role in the making of red blood cells and the maintenance of nerves. Magnesium plays a role in the proper functioning of nerves and muscles. Low levels of magnesium in the body can lead to low calcium and potassium levels impacting bone health. Potassium boosts cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure and plays a role in the maintenance of bones and muscle. While these vitamins and minerals are in small quantities in lychees, they are present and beneficial.
Rich in proanthocyanidins
Lychees are a rich source of plant compounds called proanthocyanidins. These compounds have antioxidants, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective properties. They are also anti-angiogenic which means they prevent tumours from growing blood vessels and anti-carcinogenic, which means they inhibit or prevent cancer. One study found that dried lychee pulp has anti-tumour properties and that consuming it may have great benefits.
Rich in antioxidants
Lychees have high levels of antioxidants. They have epicatechin, an antioxidant that helps improve heart health and reduces the risk of developing cancer and diabetes. The other antioxidant in lychee fruit is Rutin which helps protect against chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. One study found that the antioxidants and flavonoids in lychees are particularly effective against breast cancer.
Lychees were used in traditional Chinese medicine to protect and strengthen the liver and pancreas. One study found that lychee extract increased cell recovery in damaged livery cells of mice. They also found that the extract helped treat fatty liver disease and liver scarring. Animal studies also show that lychee extract may help fight liver cancer.
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Aid in weight loss
Lychees have a high-water content and almost negligible fat content and calories which makes them an ideal snack for people trying to lose weight.
Aids in digestion
Dietary fibre in lychees helps add bulk to the stool and facilitates smooth bowel movements. The fibre promotes gut health and also stimulates gastric and digestive juices so that the absorption of nutrients is more efficient.
Blood pressure control
Lychees have potassium and low sodium which helps the body maintain fluid balance. Potassium is considered a vasodilator which means it reduces the constriction of blood vessels and arteries thus reducing the stress on the cardiovascular system.
Side-effects and allergies
Lychees have high sugar content so people with diabetes should consume them in moderation.
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