Lychees: Nutritional Properties and Healthy Recipes with these Tropical Fruits

Everything you need to know about this truly delicious exotic fruit

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By Alex

lychees

Lychees have seen growing popularity worldwide in recent years, thanks to their delicate flavour, somewhat similar to cherries: let’s find out more about their properties and the uses we can make of them in the kitchen.

What are Lychees

Lychees (Litchi chinensis) are tropical fruits native to Southeast Asia, and they belong to the soapberry family (Sapindaceae). The lychee tree produces small, round to oval fruits with a rough, reddish-pink outer skin. The skin is thin and brittle, covering a sweet and juicy translucent flesh that surrounds a single large seed. The taste of lychee is vaguely reminiscent of cherry and often described as a combination of sweet and floral with a hint of tartness.

The plant can reach considerable heights (even 30 m) and is characterized by the presence of long evergreen leaves. The fruits ripen in late autumn.

Origin of Lychees

Lychees are believed to have originated in the Guangdong and Fujian provinces of Southern China. They have a long history of cultivation in this region, dating back thousands of years. The fruit was later introduced to other parts of Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Thailand, and the Indian subcontinent.

Lychees were eventually brought to other tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including parts of Africa, the Americas, and Australia. Today, they are cultivated in various countries with suitable climates for lychee production. China remains one of the largest producers of lychees, and the fruit has become a significant agricultural commodity in many parts of the world.

Nutritional Properties & Benefits

Lychees are not only delicious but also offer various nutritional benefits. Here are some of the nutritional properties and health benefits of lychees:

Vitamins and Minerals:

  • Vitamin C: Lychees are rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps boost the immune system, promote healthy skin, and aid in the absorption of iron.
  • Vitamin B-complex: Lychees contain B vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and folate, which play essential roles in energy metabolism.

Dietary Fiber: They provide dietary fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health. Fiber helps prevent constipation and promotes a healthy digestive system.

Antioxidants: Lychees contain various antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids, which help neutralize free radicals in the body. Antioxidants contribute to overall health and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Minerals: Lychees contain essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, and iron. These minerals play crucial roles in maintaining proper physiological functions in the body.

Low in Calories: Lychees are relatively low in calories, making them a healthy snack option for those looking to manage their weight.

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Fresh ripe lychees

Hydration: The high water content in lychees helps keep the body hydrated, contributing to overall well-being.

Heart Health: Potassium in lychees supports heart health by helping regulate blood pressure levels.

Blood Circulation: Copper and manganese in lychees are important for the production of red blood cells and contribute to improved blood circulation.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Compounds found in lychees have been studied for their potential anti-inflammatory properties, which may be beneficial in reducing inflammation in the body.

How many Lychees can you eat per day

They are fruits rich in natural sugars, so it is important to consume them in moderation to avoid excessive sugar consumption. But of course the quantity also depends on the total intake of sugars from other sources.

In general, no more than 8 fruits are recommended as a daily quantity, to avoid excessive consumption of sugars, i.e. approximately 2 portions of fruits per day, 2-4 lychees per portion, depending on the size.

This is a general recommendation and the exact amount to consume each day may vary depending on individual needs.

How to eat Lychees

Eating lychees is a delightful experience, and they can be enjoyed in various ways.
Whether incorporated into cocktails, desserts, or as a luscious topping for yogurt or ice cream, this small fruit brings a delightful touch to a variety of culinary creations.

lychees

Recipes with Lychees

Here are some simple recipes that showcase the versatility of lychees:

Fresh Lychee Fruit Salad

Ingredients:

  • Fresh lychees, peeled and deseeded
  • Mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • Kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • Mint leaves for garnish

Instructions:

  • Combine the lychees, mixed berries, and sliced kiwi in a bowl.
  • Gently toss the fruits together.
  • Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
  • Serve immediately as a refreshing and colorful fruit salad.

Lychee and Shrimp Summer Rolls

Ingredients:

  • Rice paper wrappers
  • Cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Fresh lychees, peeled and sliced
  • Rice vermicelli, cooked according to package instructions
  • Fresh herbs (mint, cilantro, basil)
  • Lettuce leaves

Instructions:

  • Soften rice paper wrappers in warm water according to package instructions.
  • Place a lettuce leaf on each wrapper, followed by a few shrimp, lychee slices, rice vermicelli, and fresh herbs.
  • Roll the wrappers tightly, folding in the sides as you go.
  • Serve with a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, lime juice, and a bit of honey.

Lychee and Ginger Sorbet

Ingredients:

  • Fresh lychees, peeled and deseeded
  • Fresh ginger, grated
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Lemon juice

Instructions:

  • Blend lychees, grated ginger, sugar, and water in a blender until smooth.
  • Strain the mixture to remove solids.
  • Stir in lemon juice to taste.
  • Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Transfer the sorbet to a container and freeze until firm.

Lychee and Coconut Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • Fresh lychees, peeled and deseeded
  • Coconut milk
  • Greek yogurt
  • Honey or agave syrup (optional)
  • Ice cubes

Instructions:

  • Blend lychees, coconut milk, Greek yogurt, and ice cubes in a blender until smooth.
  • Add honey or agave syrup for sweetness if desired.
  • Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

Lychee and Coconut Sorbet

Ingredients (for 4 people):

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups fresh coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh lychee juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 pinch of salt

Preparation:

  • Bring the water, sugar and salt to the boil in a saucepan over a high heat, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  • Lower the heat and simmer for about 3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  • Pour the mixture into a cup, keep in the refrigerator for at least an hour, so as to refrigerate it completely. Mix the coconut milk and lychee juice in a bowl. T
  • ake the mixture of water, salt and sugar, which will have cooled in the meantime, out of the fridge and add the mix of coconut milk and lychee juice: finally add the fresh lime juice.
  • Transfer everything to the freezer for at least a couple of hours before serving: here’s a sorbet that will surprise your friends!

However, you can adapt these recipes to suit your taste preferences.

More on Tropical Fruits

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