Amidst the plethora of colourful, luscious fruits such as oranges, mangoes, apples, bananas, grapes which are popular worldwide, the mention of the bounty rambutan certainly sounds rather new and unfamiliar. However, this tiny fruit is slowly gaining widespread attention across the globe in recent years – all thanks to its splendid nutritional profile and the myriad health benefits it supplies for both physical fitness and mental wellness, aside from bolstering resistance to diseases.
Encompassing an array of essential nutrients including dietary fibers, vitamin C, vitamin A, plus key minerals of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper and vitamin B9/folate, rambutan is indeed a superfruit that augments wellbeing. Not only can it be consumed by healthy individuals as part of their regular diet, but this fruit is also very beneficial for people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
Rambutan is a popular ingredient in various Asian desserts such as juices, cakes, ice creams, smoothies and pudding, besides being added to standard cuisine of salads, soups and curries. Rambutan juice is a refreshing drink that assists in cooling down the body and it is also commonly infused into many cocktails to add an exclusive flavour. In addition, the sweet and succulent rambutan fruit is used in making marmalades and jams.
Rambutan fruit is slowly but surely emerging as a superfood in present times, being eaten by people globally today, owing to its splendid wellness incentives. Be it as rambutan juice – a revitalizing summer drink, or in desserts or curries, this sweet and juicy natural wonder is being consumed by many, to reap the significant and amazing health benefits of rambutan.
Rambutan fruit is obtained from the tropical evergreen rambutan tree, scientifically termed Nephelium lappaceum and belonging to the botanical family of Sapindaceae – being closely related to the litchi fruit. It is native to the warm South-East Asian countries of Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as Thailand, Philippines, Singapore. Moreover, since this plant thrives in tropical environments, it is also extensively cultivated in parts of Sri Lanka, India in Asia, besides certain parts of Africa and Central America that have a conducive warm climate.
The tree usually attains a height of 12 – 20 meters and can be of three types – producing only male flowers, bearing female flowers with fruit and hermaphroditic meaning giving rise to budding male and female flowers. The dark green leaves are arranged in an alternate pattern, being 10 – 30 cm in length with a few leaflets. The tree sprouts small greenish-red flowers which have no prominent petals and are hence apetalous.
The rambutan fruit bears a round to oval shape comprising a white succulent flesh within, clad by a ridged bright orange to red skin on the outside with spiky furry projections. The name rambutan is derived from the word “Rambut” in the Malay language, which means hair. The tiny bounty is fundamentally a drupe that occurs as a cluster of 10 – 20 fruits. The interior flesh or aril of rambutan is tender in texture and white to pale pink in colour.
What Does A Rambutan Taste Like?
The rambutan fruit has a delicious flavour, being sweet along with a creamy soft consistency. It has a hint of tartness, which is often compared to the taste of grapes.
Rambutan Vs Lychee:
Rambutan and lychee come form the same botanical family of Sapindaceae but have some noticeable differences. The outward appearance of rambutan is slightly bigger in size, with numerous hairy projections whereas the lychee or litchi fruit is slightly smaller, having prominent ridges without any filamentous attachments on its skin.
Both fruits are drupes in that once opened, they have a similar pale white to light pink flesh with one big seed in the center. As the fruits begin to develop, they transform from green hues when relatively raw to vibrant red to pink shades once ripened.
The taste of rambutan also varies from that of lychee. While rambutan has a rich creamy flavour with more sweetness and only a subtle amount of sourness, lychee fruits are crisp in texture, with a crunchy thinner flesh that is slightly less sweet and has a floral taste.
Having its origins in Southeast Asia, particularly the nation of Malaysia, rambutan abounds in dietary fibers for enhanced digestion, vitamin C for uplifted immunity, iron for improved blood circulation, besides a treasure trove of antioxidants that avert chronic ailments.
The following is the nutritional value of rambutan per 100 g, according to the data provided by the USDA Nutrient Database (United States Department of Agriculture):
Energy 38 kcal
Carbohydrates 9.62 g
Dietary fiber 1 g
Fat 0.04 g
Protein 0.76 g
Thiamine (B1) 3%
Riboflavin (B2) 2%
Niacin (B3) 1%
Vitamin B6 3%
Vitamin C 73%
Rambutan also comprises ample potassium which is sufficient for the daily requirement of adults. Other vital trace minerals in this fruit include phosphorus, copper, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
Rambutan Health Benefits:
Boosts Immune System
Consuming two rambutan fruits will satisfy the daily vitamin C requirement in healthy adults. Vitamin C not only functions in enhancing iron absorption for enhanced blood circulation, but also works to improve immunity by white blood cells in the system. In addition, vitamin C is obligatory for growth and development of all body tissues and a key antioxidant for removing toxins from the system.
Maintains Heart Health
Being intrinsically high in potassium levels, rambutan assists in the maintenance of normal blood pressure. It also functions in promoting cardiac muscle activity, lowers the amounts of bad LDL cholesterol and raises levels of good HDL cholesterol. Rambutan is very advantageous in preventing instances of heart attacks and stroke and thereby contributes to a longer and healthier lifespan.
Relaxes Muscle Cramps
Rambutan is bestowed with the key mineral for optimal muscle function – magnesium. The significantly high magnesium content in rambutan fruits makes it an ideal option to provide relief from muscle sores and cramps. Moreover, post a high intensity workout, when muscles in the arms and legs are strained, eating a rambutan fruit can instantly alleviate symptoms of pain and discomfort.
Rambutan comprises valuable dietary fibers which ensure proper bowel movement upon ingestion of heavy meals. This is crucial to regulate kidney function and filter out all the toxic waste products upon digestion of food and assimilation of required nutrients. It also efficiently relieves intestinal conditions like constipation and indigestion.
The calcium present in rambutan fruit is absorbed by bones in the body, thereby helping to maintain optimal bone density for day-to-day functions and flexible, unobstructed movement. The very high potassium content in rambutan complements bone health by enhancing mineral uptake by cells and tissues in the body.
Combats Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Rambutan offers profuse amounts of vitamin C that confers anti-inflammatory properties to reduce swelling in the bladder, which is more common in women than men. Also, its antioxidant capabilities are useful in removing detrimental free radicals and harmful bacteria from the body. This in turn helps to avoid oxidation of the healthy cells in the excretory system organs, thus ensuring proper elimination of wastes and unnecessary food residues from the body and preventing their accumulation in the system.
Helps Treat Anemia
Vitamin C also performs one very vital function in the human body which is of enhancing the absorption of iron from ingested food. Deficiency in iron quantities leads to a condition known as anemia wherein there is a lack of adequate red blood cells in the body to transport nutrients and oxygen to all cells and tissues. Eating ripe rambutan fruits or drinking rambutan juice will guarantee ample uptake of iron, from foods, into the system and promote red blood cell synthesis and blood passage.
Rambutan Juice Recipe
4 rambutan fruits
2 tbsp honey
Peel the skin of the rambutan fruit and discard it.
Remove all seeds from the inner flesh of rambutans.
Thoroughly blend in a juicer to extract the liquid content.
Mix the honey and crushed ice, with a little bit of water to obtain a homogenous fusion.
Relish the mildly sweetened rambutan juice chilled.
Delivers Therapeutic Properties
Aside from the fruit, other parts of the rambutan plant also provide distinct health advantages and curative traits. The leaves of rambutan trees are an effectual remedy for mitigating cough and cold. The fruit and its tough outer covering called the rind contain intrinsic nerve stimulating properties, to assist in the remedy of epilepsy and headaches. It is also a beneficial agent to manage diarrhea, nausea and asthma.
Remedies Gum Damage
Lack of proper nutrition from food could lead to bleeding of gums and loose tissue. This is primarily caused due to a deficiency in Vitamin C. In addition, the epidermal layers lining the gums must also be cared for and collagen depletion can cause damage to gums and teeth. Eating rambutan fruit keeps dental problems at bay.
Regulates Blood Cholesterol Levels
Rambutan juice present in the fruit holds high value in clearing unwanted deposits in the arteries due to abundant pectin content. It also plays a central role in monitoring the levels of bad LDL and good HDL cholesterol, thereby maintaining an optimal blood cholesterol level. Potassium control electrolyte balance in bloodstream which balances blood pressure levels. Thus, rambutan juice extract helps people with hypertension and augments heart health.
Prevents Cold And Flu
Ingestion of fresh rambutan enriches the blood circulation with potent antioxidants, which perform the vital task of preventing toxin build-up in the system. Accumulation of harmful substances triggers ailments such as cold, allergies, asthma etc. where the immune system fails to operate normally. Rambutan supplies ample vitamin C to boost the body’ s innate defense mechanism and circumvents the occurrence of cold and flu.
Effectually Combats Cancer
Rambutan skin is a treasure trove of powerful nutrients, particularly bioflavonoids, a class of plant-based antioxidants. These significantly lessen the symptoms of pancreatic and intestinal cancers. It also possesses the ability to remove excess estrogen – a female reproductive hormone involved in breast development and thus prevents breast cancer. The inherent dietary fibers infused in rambutan ward off colon cancer and enhance gut health.
Aids In Weight Loss
Rambutan is bestowed with immense quantities of natural fibers. These take a while to get completely digested and thereby regulate appetite. They also need to be ground harder by teeth to be converted into simpler forms for easier processing. This in turn keeps untimely cravings for junk food at bay. This fruit also regulates lipid metabolism in cells and tissues and reduces starch and sugar amounts in the body.
Osteoporosis is a particularly incapacitating ailment which negatively influences posture, muscle and bone function and flexibility. It also causes excruciating pain in the affected joints. Rambutan leaf extracts produce an oil that can relieve pain and discomfort in limbs. Also, the bone-fortifying minerals – calcium and magnesium in the rambutan fruit enhance connective tissue strength and improve the condition of brittle bones.
Supports Digestive Processes
The vitamin C-enriched rambutan fruits provides the benefit of maintaining the pliability and functioning of arteries for smooth assimilation of ingested food. It also helps to maintain stomach pH at normal, healthy levels. The dietary fibers in rambutan fruit aid in prompt bowel movements and thus halt any instances of hemorrhoids.
Promotes Wound Healing
The bioactive components found in rambutan skin, namely rutin flavonoids, carotenoids and pectins, are potent antioxidants which assist in healing injured tissues. Moreover, the vitamin C and protein values in rambutan being very high, bolster collagen synthesis and repair damaged regions of the body.
Purifies Arteries For Heart Health
The clogging of arteries with fat deposits is the key contributing factor to atherosclerosis and diabetes-related heart complications. The mildly sweet rambutan juice is loaded with pectin, which cleanses arteries of unnecessary deposits, as well as vitamin C, which sustains the tensile strength of arteries.
Rambutan Uses For Skin And Hair:
Rambutan provides distinct health advantages and curative traits not only when ingested as the ripe fruit or juice but also when applied topically on skin and hair. Also, the rambutan essential oil derived from the fruit flesh, outer skin and leaf extracts has the quality to fight infectious agents such as bacteria and fungi to thwart skin and hair woes.
Reduces Skin Inflammation
Rambutan contains several essential amino acids that help to build healthy skin cells and also suppress any redness and swelling that tends to develop on skin exposed to harsh environmental states. Its high flavonoid content provides antioxidants traits to assist in combating free radical damage, diminish acne, scars and dark spots and lessen skin irritation.
Offers Anti-Ageing Benefits
Rambutan contains spermidine that aids in delaying skin cells from the process of aging. The carotene class of flavonoid plant antioxidants further plays an important role in reducing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and sunken skin. Applying rambutan-infused creams, oils and moisturisers helps to boost the production of collagen, a protein essential for maintaining the elasticity and firmness of skin texture.
Supports Hair Growth
Rambutan not only benefits skin but also promotes hair growth and thickness. The vitamin C and antioxidant content inherent in rambutan fruit and juice help to strengthen the roots of hair known as follicles, to stimulate the proliferation of long and robust locks of hair. It assures the complete removal of harmful free radicals that cause weak and brittle hair and incessant hair loss, thereby guaranteeing the renewal of healthy hair growth.
Eradicates Dandruff Woes
Applying the juice extract of rambutan fruit flesh onto an aggravated scalp assists in ridding the surface of dandruff and constant itching. The anti-fungal properties of rambutan fruit offer the advantage of removing all irritants from the scalp and hence promotes nourished hair growth. The key trace minerals zinc and iron, as well as vitamin B1 and vitamin C also complement optimal development of hair roots and bestow long, strong and lustrous tresses.
The sweet, luscious rambutan fruit is not only used in preparing juices, smoothies and desserts in Malaysia and Thailand, but can also be added to curries made in traditional Malaysian cuisine as well as other South-East Asian fare.
5 rambutans, peeled and deseeded
1 cup pineapple juice extract
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
Salt, as per taste
Pepper, as needed
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
Coriander leaves and lime wedges, for garnish
Boil the pineapple extract on medium flame in a pan, adding ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and pepper.
Allow the flavours of the spices to completely get absorbed, then lower the flame and add the rambutan fruits.
Stir well and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, then turn off the stovetop.
Garnish with coriander leaves and lemon juice and serve hot with warm rice for lunch or dinner.
Rambutan comprises vast amounts of calcium and magnesium to strengthen bones and joints. Pineapple supplies B vitamins for improved metabolism while coriander leaves are rich in vitamin A, for enhanced eyesight.
Rambutan In Syrup
10 – 12 rambutans, peeled and deseeded
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
2 lemons, with zest from peel and juice extracts
Ice cubes, crushed
2 slices of ginger, minced
Heat sugar in water on medium flame, along with lime peel for zest in a vessel and prepare a thick sugar syrup.
Turn off the flame and let it cool down completely.
Add the ripe rambutans to this along with lemon juice and keep in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 hours.
Garnish the delectable rambutan in syrup with ginger, pour it equally into 3 bowls and relish this chilled Thai dessert.
Rambutan is laden with vitamin C and folate for boosted immunity and improved blood circulation. Lemons are imbued with citrine polyphenol antioxidants that detoxify the system of impurities and enhance kidney and liver health. Possessing profuse gingerol compounds with decongestant traits, ginger is a proven natural remedy for cough and cold and enhancing respiratory wellness.
Side Effects Of Rambutan:
Rambutan fruits are filled with umpteen nutrients and wellness incentives and when taken in moderate amounts do not give rise to any health problems. However, when too much of rambutan is consumed, it leads to gastrointestinal and digestive complaints such as acid reflux, stomach ulcers and constipation.
Furthermore, in overly ripened rambutan fruits, the sugar content turns to alcohol. Ingestion of such high amounts of alcoholic residues invariably results in increase in blood cholesterol levels which can hamper the health of diabetics and those with cardiac anomalies.
Rambutan is indeed a blessing for overall health, being a storehouse of essential nutrients such as fibers, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants that augment immunity, digestion, heart wellness, bone and muscle strength as well as help manage chronic ailments of diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. Keep in mind to consume only the rambutan fruit produce that is ripe to the appropriate level, steering clear of eating fruits that are either still a bit raw or too ripe, to avoid any harmful side effects. While the ripe fruit can be incorporated into a host of dishes such as juices, smoothies, curries, desserts and jams, one must consume rambutan in moderate amounts and not excessively, to gain the wonderful health merits it confers.