Sweet and juicy with a satin smooth mouthfeel; the lychee is similar to the rambutan in both flavor and texture.
They are both members of the soapberry family, which are native to subtropical climates. They are considered soapberries because some part of the plant, whether root, leaf, or seed contains saponins and can be used as soap. Recorded use of the lychee fruit can be found in Chinese written records as early as 2000 BC. It is a delicate fruit that begins to deteriorate quickly once ripe and removed from the branches, consequently, most lychee fruit are dipped in a chemical compound to extend their shelf life and keep them from turning brown. The compound used is classified as GRAS, which means, “generally recognized as safe”.
From a culinary perspective, lychees are absolutely delicious as a fresh, raw snack or side to a meal. They can be made into puddings, ice creams, sorbets, or added to salads. The creative culinary options are endless for this sweet little fruit.
From a health perspective, Lychee fruit just as the fresh fruit contains a moderate amount of nutrients like Vitamin C and B. They have a decent amount of fiber and can help balance digestive function. Studies suggest that 9 lychee contain the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C. There are several suggesting that lychee as an extract helps to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Three studies in particular demonstrated that efficacy of lychee fruit extract for tissue repair and decreased inflammation in long distance runners and other endurance athletes.
Kang, S. W., Hahn, S., Kim, J.-K., Yang, S.-M., Park, B.-J., & Chul Lee, S. (2012). Oligomerized lychee fruit extract (OLFE) and a mixture of vitamin C and vitamin E for endurance capacity in a double blind randomized controlled trial.Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, 50(2), 106–113. doi:10.3164/jcbn.11-46
Nishizawa, M., Hara, T., Miura, T., Fujita, S., Yoshigai, E., Ue, H., Hayashi, Y., Kwon, A.-H., Okumura, T. and Isaka, T. (2011), Supplementation with a Flavanol-rich Lychee Fruit Extract Influences the Inflammatory Status of Young Athletes. Phytother. Res., 25: 1486–1493. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3430