The lychee is a unique fruit native to China, and is a huge part of China’s ancient and rich culture and cuisine. The lychee is a type of soapberry, and it features a pristine-looking red “peel” encasing delicate, white flesh with a delicious, perfume-like flavor. Not only does the lychee boast delicious, unique flavor, it also comes with a variety of proven health benefits.
The lychee has been a part of Chinese cuisine and culture for ages. In fact, it is known that the lychee was grown in ancient China as early as 2000 BC. In stories from Chinese culture, the lychee has long been valued as a delicacy in the Chinese Imperial Court. Since then, the lychee has been cultivated in more and more areas, and now is cultivated all throughout South and Southeast Asia. Recently, lychees have even been grown in warmer regions of the United States and Australia, such as California and Hawaii.
The lychee’s flesh, encased in a thin red rind, is known to be pure, smoothly textured, and especially, perfume-flavored. However, the perfume flavor is lost during canning, so I wouldn’t recommend buying canned lychees, though that may be the only option for you. Though refrigeration does cause the rind of the fruit to turn darker, the flavor is not hurt.
It is common to see lychees being sold fresh in Asian stores. Worldwide demand for the lychee has grown – more and more supermarkets around the world are offering fresh lychees.
Much history and culture surrounds the lychee. In fact, since the 1st century, lychees were said to be in huge demand at the Chinese Imperial Court, that the emperor created a special delivery service in which the fastest horses would bring fresh lychees from Southeastern China.
Lychees do not lack health benefits: they provide great amounts of essential vitamins and nutrients – eating just nine lychees provides a whole day’s worth of vitamin C. A single cup of lychee also provides many other necessary nutrients, such as copper, phosphorus, and potassium. Lychees, like other exotic fruit, have another benefit: they are extremely low in saturated fat and sodium, and contain no cholesterol at all.
Lychees have also been found to provide good amounts of polyphenols and fatty acids, which are necessary for the body. Other health benefits include a variety of helpful amino acids.
The lychee is quite similar to its relative, the longan, in terms of health benefits. However, it is important to note that the lychee provides several fatty acids while the longan does not, while the longan provides more amino acids than the lychee. In any case, both provide great health benefits and are a great addition to any diet.