Diet

Longan Fruit: Health Benefits, Nutritional Value & Drawbacks

Dimocarpus Longan, better known as longan fruit, is a white-fleshed exotic fruit that belongs to the soapberry family. It is known for its similarities with lychee fruit. Longan is a tasty addition to puddings, sorbets, smoothies, salads, and jellies. All you need to do is peel away its outer shell for consuming longan. Longan tastes like grapes and looks like an eyeball when you take the shell off. The black seed and white flesh resemble a pupil. Hence, it is also called dragon eye fruit. 

Consuming longan seeds is not recommended. Hence, remember to remove the seeds before eating longan. Longan is native to Southeast Asia and widely cultivated in Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, and China. They can be processed to obtain essential oil or extracts. It is also noteworthy that longan fruit plays a salient role in traditional Chinese medicine.

Longan Fruit vs Lychees

Longan and lychee are tropical summer fruits. You can even call them close relatives in a fruit family. Once peeled, both fruits appear as white flesh surrounding a large seed outside. However, longan fruit is smaller than lychee. It has much smoother, harder, and darker skin. Therefore, you should peel it off before consumption. Lychees have pinkish outer skin with a rough texture due to small bumps.

Longan fruit has a musky flavour, while lychee has a floral taste. Unlike fresh lychees, it is pretty challenging to find fresh longans. You will often find them frozen, canned, or dried in grocery stores. In other words, fresh varieties of this fruit are not very easily available.

Nutritional Value of Longan Fruit

100 grams of longan fruit contains the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 60 kcal
  • Carbs: 15.14 g
  • Protein: 1.31 g
  • Fibre: 1.10 g
  • Fat: 0.10 g

Vitamin and Minerals

  • Vitamin C : 84 mg (140% DV)
  • Potassium: 266 mg (7.6% of DV)
  • Phosphorus: 21mg (2.1% of DV)
  • Copper: 0.17 mg (8.5% of DV)
  • Manganese: 0.05 mg (2.6% of DV)
  • Iron – 0.13 mg or 0.7%

Health Benefits of Longan Fruit

Superfood is a buzzword across online and traditional media. Unfortunately, there is no accepted medical definition for this term. However, superfoods are foods with a rich nutrient profile. Eating superfoods improves many aspects of health. The longan fruit supplies high levels of desirable nutrients. It does so without adding any excess calories to your diet. Therefore, they qualify as superfoods. 

Here are the health benefits of longan fruit.

1. Improves Memory

Longan fruit is nootropic in nature. It means that the fruit extract enhances cognitive function and memory. In traditional Chinese medicine, longan fruit tonic is for anxiety-induced treatment.

A study shows that consuming longan fruit may be beneficial to the brain. It is because longan acts on the part of the brain structure that helps process memories. Thus, it helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Boosts Skin Health

Thanks to the rich levels of vitamin C, longan fruits effectively reverse the signs of ageing. It improves pigmentation, blemishes, fine lines, and wrinkles. In addition, this fruit helps in the formation of collagen. As a result, it facilitates the formation of new skin cells. Thereby, it keeps the skin healthy. 

A study supports the claim that vitamin C in longan reduces the oxidative damage of the skin. Therefore, longan is good for skin health. For example, it minimises the cracking and peeling of the skin. It also reduces dryness in the skin and helps retain a youthful glow.

3. Improves Sleep Quality

In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, most individuals suffer from insomnia or sleeplessness. Longan may be the remedy you’re looking for due to its anxiolytic activity. The fruit extract can lower stress or anxiety. It does so by reducing the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. As a result, it can eventually help in improving sleep duration and quality. 

A study also shows that longan fruit contributes to sleep rate and time.

4. Boosts Immunity

Longan fruit exhibits potent anti-microbial properties. As a result, this helps the immune system in fighting infections. In addition, it is rich in vitamin C., a well-known antioxidant that can reduce free radicals’ harmful action.

Studies support the claim that consuming longan fruit can help aid in the immune system’s defence mechanism by producing sufficient white blood cells. Furthermore, tea and herbal infusions made with longan effectively prevent respiratory anomalies, sore throat, common cold, and fever.

5. Anti-inflammatory

A study suggests that all parts of the longan fruit contain anti-inflammatory properties. They contain ellagic acid, epicatechin, and gallic acid. As a result, it reduces the release of inflammatory substances in the body. The mesocarp or the longan pulp is enough to receive its anti-inflammatory benefits.

6. Boosts Libido

Longan fruit serves as a traditional supplement to increase sex drive in both men and women. In addition, it is a traditional aphrodisiac. Fruit juice has been popular in China for over 400 years to cure sexual inadequacies. It plays a positive role in increasing stamina and thus improves libido. Research proves longan’s role in treating erectile dysfunction and improving sexual health.

7. Prevents Anaemia

Inadequate production of healthy red blood cells can lead to anaemia. Eating longans can provide you with iron. It can consequently manage iron deficiency and the risk of anaemia. In addition, the trace amounts of iron in longan may stimulate red blood cell production and improve circulation.

8. Protects Against Chronic Diseases

Your body releases free radicals mainly as a result of stress. They tend to cause cellular damage in tissues and organs. The antioxidants in longan can fight some of these harmful free radicals. Thereby, they prevent abnormal cell death or damage. This quality overall reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases.

9. Energy Booster

If you’re looking to replace caffeine, then longan fruit may be the ideal choice. This juicy fruit can give a surge of instant energy. In addition, since longan fruit has a good amount of fruit sugars, it works brilliantly as an energy booster.

Healthy Recipes Using Longan Fruit

Longan Smoothie

Longan Fruit: Health Benefits, Nutritional Value & Drawbacks- HealthifyMe
  • Serves: 1
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • Longans (seedless and skinless): 50g
  • Coconut milk: 10ml
  • Banana: 30g

Method

  1. Cut the bananas into small pieces.
  2. Combine the longans, coconut milk, and cut bananas in a blender.
  3. Blend until smooth and serve chilled.

Potential Drawbacks

High Sugar Content

100g of longan contains 65g of sugar. Therefore, it’s probably not a good idea to eat longan fruit if you have diabetes. The high sugar content and its low-fibre increase blood glucose levels relatively quickly. In addition, 100 grams of fruit contains only about 1 gram of fibre. Thus, longan fruit fails to reduce the glycemic response. 

Compared to fresh longan, the dried and canned varieties contain more sugar. In addition, most canned longans come with sweetened syrup. Therefore it has more calories than the fresh ones. Therefore, longans are not a safe choice for diabetes or a low-sugar diet.

Pesticide Poisoning

During cultivation, longan fruit is vulnerable to pests. As a result, farmers began using pesticides to protect the harvest. Unfortunately, the pesticide and fungicide dosage goes above safe levels. Therefore, this increases the possibility of food poisoning. Furthermore, peeling the fruit with teeth may expose you to harmful levels of pesticides. Nonetheless, you can find organic versions of longan fruits devoid of chemical concerns.

Not Safe During Pregnancy

Longan may raise body temperature. Pregnancy is the time when you experience hot flashes. Therefore, consuming longan might make it worse. It may lead to dry mouth, constipation, abdominal pain, ultimately leading to pregnancy complications. Hence, it is best to avoid having longans during pregnancy.

Conclusion

Longan is a tropical fruit of the soapberry family similar to lychee. It is often called ‘dragon’s eye’ due to its pale white flesh with a central black seed. However, it is less aromatic and has a hint of musky flavour. From a nutrition standpoint, longan fruit is a good source of B vitamins and vitamin C. Additionally it contains fair amounts of minerals like phosphorus and copper. Longan fruit is low in calories and is considered a superfood.

Longan fruit has several health benefits. These fruits restore sleep, reduce anxiety, and enhance libido. In addition, this succulent fruit is beneficial in treating infections, skin issues, obesity, stress, and anxiety. However, there are some exceptions as well. Look for organically harvested longan fruits to prevent any possible pesticide poisoning. However, this tropical fruit provides you with a handful of researched health benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is the benefit of longan fruit?

A. Longan fruits reduce inflammation. In addition, it is a natural energy booster. They also improve libido in both men and women. Furthermore, longan fruit benefits include enhancing skin health, boosting immunity, while providing a quality sleep cycle. Additionally, they improve memory and may prevent anaemia. 

Q. Is longan fruit high in sugar?

A. Yes, longan has high sugar content. Around 65 grams of sugar is present in 100 grams of longans. Additionally, they have very low fibre content. Therefore, this fruit may spike your blood sugar levels. 

Q. When should I eat longan?

A. You can eat longan any time of the day. Most people eat the fruit when they need some refreshment. You may even eat the fruit when you’re craving something sweet and juicy. However, it is advisable to consume them in the daytime.  

Q. Is longan a Superfood?

A. Yes, longan has beneficial nutrients that provide multiple health benefits. For example, they may boost immunity and improve skin health. Additionally, they may also protect against chronic infection and enhance sleep quality. Moreover, it possesses very few calories. 

Q. Does longan contain alcohol?

A. Longan does not possess any active alcohol content. However, people use it to make rum. For example, macerating longan flesh in alcohol makes liquor.

Q. Is it healthy to eat longan every day?

A. Generally, it is appropriate to eat about ten longans a day. Suppose you have high body heat, then avoid it. Since it’s a good vitamin C and iron source, you may eat it every day but in moderation. People with diabetes and pregnant women have to be cautious. It’s preferable to talk to your physician before taking them. 

Q. Can you eat longan seeds?

A. One consumes longan seeds rarely. You may use the seed extracts in herbal tonics and tea. Oil made from these seeds may help with the premature greying of hair. However, most people often discard the seeds and eat only the juicy pulp. 

Q. What is the difference between lychee and longan?

A. Sometimes, people confuse longan fruit with Lychees. Both are white-fleshed tropical fruit. However, longan is smaller in size. It appears with smooth and brown skin. In contrast, lychees have bumpy outer skin with a pinkish colour. In addition, longans have a musky flavour, whereas; lychees have a fragrant, floral taste. Longan contains 60 calories per 100 grams of serving from a nutritional standpoint, whereas lychees have 66 calories. Furthermore, it has more vitamin C as well. 

Q. Can babies eat longan fruit?

A. No, it is advisable not to include logan fruits for babies. Since it induces inner heat in the body, babies may experience discomfort and constipation. Moreover, the fruit texture and consistency may be hard to chew. Therefore, it is advisable to talk to your medical health professional before feeding them logan fruit. 

Q. Are longans Heaty?

A. Yes, longans generate internal body heat once consumed. Pregnant women especially must avoid it to prevent any complications. If you’re a person with high body heat, eat longans in moderation.

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