The History and Properties of the Exotic Lychee

The exotic lychee fruit has a long and prestigious history, and boasts a host of natural compounds. Lychee has a long history of being enjoyed by wealthy and important people around the world since it was discovered.

What is the lychee fruit?

The lychee fruit (sometimes called “litchi”) is a member of the soapberry family of tree fruits, found on evergreen trees that can grow to nearly one hundred feet tall. It is native to Southern China, where it was discovered more than 2,000 years ago according to unofficial records. Lychee fruits feature a pink-red outer skin, which is inedible. The sweet fruit found inside has a distinct perfume-like flavour, and is usually enjoyed in dessert dishes.

Upon its discovery in China, the lychee fruit was considered a delicacy to the Chinese Imperial Court. Chinese nobles and government officials enjoyed the fruits during their short season of availability in the months of June and July. The Imperial Court went as far as creating a special courier service for lychee fruit delivery in 1st century China. The fruit was eventually introduced to the West in 1656, where it would enjoy a great deal of popularity.

Why is the lychee fruit so special?

Throughout history, the lychee fruit has been said to boost immune systems, improve digestion, build stronger bones, lower blood pressure, defend the body against viruses, and act as skin protection – but how exactly might this have been possible? A snapshot of the compounds found within the tropical fruit include:

  • A high vitamin C content
  • Vitamin B6
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Folate
  • Copper, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese
  • Great source of dietary fibre, protein, proanthocyanidins and polyphenolic compounds
  • What is it all good for?

With the large amount of natural compounds found within the pungent fruit, it’s no wonder so many claims have been made about its natural healing properties over the years. Lychee, being rich in vitamin C, is a natural immune system booster. The exotic fruit also contains more than 100% of your daily RDA of Vitamin C in just a single serving.

The vitamin C content found in lychee fruit may also work as a skin health booster. Lychee fruits, like many other tropical fruits, may also act as natural protection from the sun, thanks again to its high vitamin C content.

Lychee contains a good dose of potassium. Potassium helps the body to maintain fluid balance by balancing out the negative effects of salt – maintaining fluid balance is important in reducing hypertension. Potassium is also a natural vasodilator, which helps to reduce any constriction found in blood vessels and arteries.

The fruit may be able to improve digestion with its dietary fibre content. This helps create smooth bowel movements, as gastric and digestive juices are stimulated – this makes nutrient absorption more effective. Lychee is also said to reduce and relieve constipation and other gastrointestinal discomfort.

The lychee fruit, rich in history and nutrition

It’s clear from its origins in the Chinese Imperial Court that those in power saw – and tasted – something truly special in the exotic and unique fruit. It has played a role throughout history and whether seen to be improving the immune system, protecting skin, reducing blood pressure, or improving digestion, there’s certainly something special about the unique lychee.

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