Lichi or litchi fruits are a popular natural bounty in tropical regions, that not only render a delicious flavour to numerous pastries and desserts but also confer a plethora of health benefits. These include uplifting immunity, promoting weight loss, enhancing digestive processes, enriching skin texture besides hydrating the body and relieving mental stress, tension and anxiety.
Scientifically termed Litchi chinensis, the lychee fruits are the only members of this particular Litchi genus in the Sapindaceae or soapberry family of flowering plants.
What Is The Meaning Of Lichi?
The term lichi simply means the litchi fruit or lychee fruit, that is formed upon budding of the flowers of the litchi tree.
Although this fruit is widely grown and available in all regions of India, the local names in Hindi, as well as other regional languages of Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Gujarati, Bengali are all one and the same – lichi.
The litchi tree is a tropical evergreen flora that is native to the warmer areas of China. However, it is also extensively cultivated in South-East Asian nations of Thailand, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka And Vietnam.
Growing to a considerably tall height of 15 to 30 meters, the litchi tree bears lush green leaves with pointed leaflets. The flowers of the litchi tree hold a pleasant fragrance, with varying hues of vibrant green, yellow and white.
Upon budding, the flowers develop into the litchi fruit, which is very delicious and hence vastly consumed as part of many dishes, juices and desserts.
What Does Litchi Taste Like?
The litchi fruits are round, oval or heart-shaped, with a fleshy interior. The hard outer skin of this fruit is green when immature and turns pinkish-red upon ripening. It has prominent bulging portions with a rough texture. This covering is however not edible and is removed before eating the pulp of the fruit.
Inside, the litchi fruit’s flesh is white to translucent, with many seeds or arils and a wonderful juicy smell with a refreshing sweet taste.
Owing to its appetizing taste and pleasing scent, litchi fruits are added to many beverages, iced teas, cocktails, besides being consumed as the ripe fruit, pulpy juice, or in the form of ice creams, puddings, cakes and pastries. The culinary uses of litchi fruits are indeed manifold, due to its preferred sugary taste as well as rich nutritional content and fantastic wellness incentives.
Litchi Fruit Nutrition Facts:
The nutrition profile of lychee or litchi fruits is quite impressive. The juicy fruit is ideal for weight loss due to its low-calorie content and negligible amounts of saturated fats. In addition, it also provides dietary fibers, to aid in digestion and has no cholesterol, for better heart function. Litchis are rich in Vitamin C for boosting immunity and Vitamin A for proper vision. They are also abundant in the B vitamins that can aid in regulating metabolism.
Furthermore, they possess vast amounts of crucial trace minerals like iron and calcium and antioxidants, which monitor enzyme function and prevent free radical damage in the body cells. Lichis also contain powerful plant compounds called flavonoids, which offer anti-inflammatory properties for those suffering from chronic conditions. Also Read: Iron: Functions, Food Sources, Supplements, Deficiency and Toxicity
Lichis are widely grown and consumed worldwide today and are also incorporated in cooking food, in the form of fresh juices, jams, desserts and salads. The pleasant aroma, pulpy sweet flavour and innumerable health benefits of this luscious fruit make it ideal to be consumed by people of all age groups and serves as a value addition to the daily diet.
The nutrient content in a 100 gram serving of lichi fruit is highlighted below. (As Per United States Nutrient Database)
Calories: 66 cal
Total Protein 0.6 g 1%
Total Carbohydrates 5.7 g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g 0.5%
Starch 0.0 g
Sugars 3.0 g
Total Fat 0.3 g 0%
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Vitamin C 156 mg 25%
Vitamin A 22 mg 5%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 10 mg 2%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 5 mg 1%
Iron 0.1 mg 0.1 %
Magnesium 5.0 mg 1%
Phosphorus 8.0 mg 1%
Potassium 123 mg 20%
Sodium 0.0 mg 0%
Sulphur 13 mg 1.5%
Litchi Benefits For Health:
Fights Free Radical Damage
Lichi is rich in Vitamin C and other phenolic compounds called flavonoids. These prevent the damage of cells due to free radicals, pollutants and toxic chemicals which lead to health ailments such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Free radicals are developed in the body when the body gets exposed to the radiation, tobacco or smoke and during the process of breaking down of food. The antioxidant property of lychees effectively combats toxins in the body. Also Read: Top Most Antioxidant Rich Foods
Bolsters Immune Functions
Bestowed with vitamin C, lichi bolsters immunity against seasonal infections and chronic diseases. Vitamin C enhances the white blood cells production and also assists in the functioning. As vitamin C is an antioxidant, it eliminates the oxidative damage and enhances the smooth functioning. Vitamin C effectively boosts the immune system to counteract the colds.
Reduced Risk Of Stroke
The negligible amounts of sodium and cholesterol in the lychee lowers the chances of stroke and health ailments such as inflammation, oxidative damage, cardiac health, atherosclerosis, blood pressure and endothelial health. The development of plaque in the body results in the stroke or heart attack which could be reduced with the Vitamin C.
Boosts Good HDL Cholesterol
lychees are a good source of niacin i.e. vitamin B3 which regulates cholesterol synthesis in the system. Niacin enhances the good HDL cholesterol levels and reduces the amounts of harmful triglycerides and bad LDL cholesterol in blood. Also Read: Vitamin B3: Functions, Food Sources, Deficiencies And Toxicity
Consuming lichis in routine diet helps to speed up the assimilation of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in food, by acting as a catalyst to enzymes in biochemical processes. This in turn promotes proper appetite and metabolism and helps maintain optimal body weight.
Dietary fiber in lychee supports the digestive system in the material movement and adds bulk to the stool which is helpful for those having the irregular bowel function or constipation. It supports in healthy weight and reduces the chances of heart disease and diabetes.
Heals Muscle Cramps
Litchi fruits possess adequate amounts of potassium and water. It enhances the strength of muscles and reduces the muscle cramps often caused due to the low levels of potassium, sodium and dehydration.
Hydrates The Body
The abundant water content in lichis makes them a perfect way to quench thirst and cool the body during peak summer, when people are often dehydrated. The fruit can be consumed as such or squeezed into a juice, chilled and sipped, to ensure adequate water supply and for electrolyte replenishment in the body cells. Also Read: This Summer, Just Chill: All-Time Favourite Cool Drink Recipes To Beat The Scorching Heat
Cures Liver Damage
Liver damage leads to the various ailments which are caused due to the excessive consumption of alcohol, anemia, malnutrition, infection and hepatotoxic drugs. Litchi contains hepatoprotective agents that help in effectively treating liver ailments.
Is Litchi Good For Diabetes?
Litchi fruits or lychees have powerful antihyperglycemic properties, which means they lower blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes. With a low glycemic load value of just 2, they help to gradually process sugars in food entering the body and hence monitor blood glucose levels from becoming alarmingly high.
Certain powerful bioactive crystalline alkaloids present in lichi fruits actually suspends the conversion of starch into sugar thereby regulating the sugar level, especially in diabetic patients.
Hence, litchi fruits can be consumed in moderate amounts by diabetics. However, consult with doctors and nutritionists, to avoid any risk of side effects. Also Check Out: 5 Fruits Low On Glycemic Index That Are Good For Diabetics-Infographic
Litchi Juice Recipe:
4 ripe litchis
2 tbsp jaggery
1 tbsp orange juice
2 cups water
A dash of salt
Wash and clean the litchis, removing all the seeds.
Chop them into pieces.
In a mixer jar, add chopped litchis and water and grind well.
Strain the litchi puree through a filter to get clear juice underneath.
To the clear litchi juice, add jaggery, salt, orange juice.
Blend again in the mixie so that everything mixes well.
Store in refrigerator for 1 hour and serve chilled.
Yummy and cool litchi juice is ready.
Litchi fruits abound in antioxidants, so that the amount of blood transported within the system is increased to meet the nutritional requirements of all the organs. This chilled litchi juice helps to control low blood pressure or hypotension and also hydrates the body, assisting in managing frequent episodes of nausea and dizziness.
Litchi Uses For Skin:
Enhances Skin Texture
An adequate amount of Vitamin A and C could be obtained from the lychee fruits which helps to prevent the damage from the oxidative stress caused due to poor diet, stress and pollution. It also reduces the dryness of the skin and reduces the wrinkles.
Clears Suntans and Dark Spots
The phenolic content in leaves of lichi fruits comprises useful skin-whitening agents. Syzygium aqueum leaf extracts are used extensively skin care products, as the phenolic antioxidant possesses UVB-blocking ability.
Litchi and Oatmeal Face Pack:
½ cup oatmeal
½ cup water
Mix the oatmeal with fresh litchi juice extract and blend it into a homogenous paste.
Apply on your face evenly, leave it on for 10 minutes.
Wash off with lukewarm water.
How It Works:
The active flavonoid components in litchi fruits possess wonderful skin brightening properties that will rejuvenate skin cells, slow down ageing and leave your face looking flawless and radiant. In addition, the antioxidants in oatmeal help to eliminate dead skin cells, thereby brightening the face. Also Read: 5 Amazing Ways Oatmeal Based Products Revamp Skin Health
Acne vulgaris is a skin condition which leads to the inflammation caused due to the skin infection. The fresh, ripe litchi fruits possess the anti-acne properties such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties, to effectively combat the microbes causing acne and thus reduce inflammation and acne scars.
Treats Skin Infections
Extracts prepared from the lychee fruits and juices are very effective against Staphylococcus aureus, a common bacterial microbial agent that causes many skin disorders such as blisters and pustules, as well as hypersensitivity and allergies.
Litchi Therapeutic Applications In Ayurveda:
In Ayurveda - the time-tested Indian system of medicine, the ancient documents feature a host of incredible therapeutic properties and uses of litchi fruits, as well as leaves and bark.
Treats Epilepsy And Seizures
The bioactive constituents in lichi fruits known as terpenoids help in improving nerve function. Hence, it is effective as remedy for those suffering from neuronal complications like seizures.
Heals Oral Thrush
The bark extract of litchi tree is crushed and applied on microbial infections in the mouth known as oral thrush, to heal the sores and swelling.
Remedies Kidney Stones
The leaf extracts of lichi fruits possess strong anti-inflammatory properties, which help to get rid of kidney stones within the system and ensure smooth elimination of toxins and bladder function.
Tasty, Healthy Recipes With Lichi/Litchi Fruit:
10 litchis (with all seeds removed)
1 cup flax seed extract
100 gm sugar 100gm
1 tbsp vanilla extract
50 gm all-purpose flour (maida)
1 tbsp oil
1 ½ cup whipped cream
A bunch of red sweet cherries
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.
Line the circular baking tray with oil and baking paper.
Whisk the flax seed extract and vanilla extract using a beater in a bowl, to obtain a light, fluffy and creamy texture.
Add the all-purpose flour slowly and continue to blend.
Finally, put in the oil and thoroughly mix, to obtain a homogenous cake batter.
Pour this cake batter into the greased baking tray.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes at 180 degrees celcius, until a soft texture forms.
Allow this to cool down a bit, then slice it into even triangular pieces.
Cut the litchis into small pieces.
Mix the whipped cream with chopped lichis to get a paste.
Now, gently coat each piece of cake with this litchi-infused whipped cream.
Garnish the cake slices with a few more litchi portions and cherries on top.
Serve warm and enjoy this mouth-watering litchi cake with some tea in the evening.
Litchis are a storehouse of vitamin C, that offers antioxidant benefits for skin, hair besides maintaining defense mechanism of the body, shielding it from diseases. Flax seeds are high on proteins, for development of bodily organs, tissues and strong muscles. All-purpose flour or maida contains healthy fats for energy supply and optimal metabolism. Also Read: Lockdown Essentials: 5 Flour Varieties To Stock In Kitchen To Meet Your Daily Requirements
Litchi Ice Cream
500 gm fresh litchi
100 gm powdered sugar
2 cups milk
3 cups water
1 small lemon
Thoroughly wash the litchi fruits and remove all the seeds.
In a pan, heat the milk, water and sugar, along with chopped litchis, bringing it to a boil.
Mix well, making sure the sugar has dissolved fully.
Allow it to cool down completely.
Squeeze the juice of the lemon and set aside in a bowl.
To the sweetened blend of pulpy litchi fruits in milky sugar syrup, mix in the lime juice.
Put this mixture in a juicer and blend nicely, until a homogenous paste forms.
Refrigerate this sweetened thick milky litchi paste for at least 4 to 5 hours, until it becomes solid.
Indulge in this heavenly sweet litchi ice cream as a chilled dessert after lunch or dinner.
Blessed with dietary fibers, litchi fruits enhance digestion, avert gut disorders like bloating, heartburn, IBS. Moreover, they also supply iron, for optimal blood circulation in the system. Milk is a superfood that provides proteins, calcium and vitamin D, for fortified muscles, bones and joints. Lemon juice is packed with antioxidants that detoxify the liver and cleanse the bloodstream of harmful food remnants, free radicals.
Why Is Lychee Bad For You?
Undoubtedly, lychee is a nutrient-dense fruit that provides excellent merits for both, physical and mental wellbeing. However, they do pose the risk of certain side effects such as:
While litchi fruit or lychee is usually commercially sold as the fully developed fruit, its stems, leaves and roots contain trace amounts of hydrocyanic acid and is hence poisonous.
Therefore, caution should be exercised before consuming lichis sourced from farms and other organic produce.
Keep in mind to eat only measured portions of lichis/litchi fruits, as eating too much poses the risk of toxicity in the body due to accumulation of trace mineral metallic compounds present in the fruit, within the body.
Lichis, also called litchi fruits or lychees, are in fact, a goldmine of essential macronutrients, trace minerals and potent antioxidants. They impart beneficial traits to enhance physical and mental health, apart from being invaluable in remedying several ailments such as diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders.
In addition, they can be relished in the form of ripe fruit, pulpy juice and delectable desserts. Hence, adding litchi fruits to the diet for their salient nutrition values and marvellous wellness incentives, truly uplifts overall health.