Longan fruit has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years as a remedy for many diseases, ranging from insomnia to snake bites.
Sometimes called a berry and sometimes called a nut, longan is actually neither. Instead, it is a fruit related to the lychee. Longans grow in clusters on trees. The fruit is very round and about the size of a large grape. Beneath the tough, tan shell, you’ll find the white flesh of the fruit surrounding a dark seed. This structure is the source of its nickname, dragon’s eye. The flesh of longan fruit resembles that of a grape in taste and texture, but longan has a hint of musk in the flavor.
Native to India or China, longan is very popular in Asia, and an Asian market may be your best bet for finding the fresh fruit. Longan is also available canned and dried. Traditional Chinese medicine uses both the fruit and the seed for healing and for general health. Scientific research does not support all the health claims for longan, but the fruit has nutrients that are valuable in maintaining wellness.
Longan Nutrition Facts
Longan may be low in calories, with less than 20 calories present in an ounce of these small fruits. There are also very few carbohydrates found in these fruits, which might be good for those on a ketogenic diet. However, longan can be an excellent source of potassium and vitamin C, as well as copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese, in addition to numerous B vitamins, including folic acid. The fruit may also boast certain antioxidant polyphenols like corilagin, gallic acid, and ellagic acid that can increase the overall wellness of the body.
Health BenefitsFresh longan fruit is high in vitamin C, as most fruits are — which is one reason why fruit is so vital in a healthy diet. One serving of longan provides almost a full day’s requirement. A longan’s unique appearance and taste may tempt your appetite and lead you to eat more fruit. Nutritionists point out that eating a variety of fruits gives you a broad spectrum of nutrients.
Tissue HealthWhen that cut on your finger finally heals, you can thank vitamin C. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is vital for tissue health and promotes healing of cuts and wounds. It also helps the body create collagen, a tough substance that is part of muscles, cartilage, skin, bones, and almost every other part of the body. Vitamin C keeps your teeth and gums healthy too.
Heart HealthSome studies have suggested that because vitamin C is an antioxidant, and can contribute to heart health. It may reduce stiffening of the arteries, which is a feature of cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C supplements do not seem to have this effect. Getting vitamin C from plant sources, such as longan, appears to be a better path to heart health. More research could show exactly how vitamin C might protect the heart.
May Help With Skin CareVitamin C, present in high amounts in longan, may be vital for collagen synthesis, which might help keep the skin firm and healthy. It may provide antioxidant protection against ultraviolet radiation and may clear out the oxidative stress in your system. In traditional Chinese medicine, longan soup is a time-tested recipe known to add luster and suppleness to the skin.
May Be Anti-agingLongan may help eliminate wrinkles, age spots, as well as blemishes and the appearance of scars. The flesh of the fruit may contain vitamins B and C as well as antioxidants, which have anti-aging properties and minimize dryness, as well as the cracking and peeling of the skin.
May Boost LibidoLongan tonics might have been popular since time immemorial with Chinese women to increase their sensuality and appearance. The fruit may help increase energy and stave off fatigue.
May Relieve AnxietyThe dried berry may have a calming effect and may be used to help with anxiety and sleeplessness. In traditional Chinese medicine, longan tea made by steeping Chinese red dates and dried longans in hot water, may help reduce anxiety as well as warm the body in winter months.
May Improve Sleep QualityIn a study, it was found that longan extract may have anxiolytic activity, which prolonged sleep time in people. The flesh of the fruit and tissues in its seeds may have often been used in Chinese tonics to enhance calmness and induce deep, rejuvenating sleep.
May Be Used As A Blood TonicThere may be trace amounts of iron in longan, which might help stimulate the production of red blood cells and boost circulation. With proper blood flow, you may have resources delivered to key parts of the body, as well as oxygen, which might increase energy and prevent the symptoms of anemia.
May Alleviate Snake BitesIn Vietnam, the seed of the fruit is commonly used to treat snakebites and is usually pressed against the infected area. It may contain saponin, which has the ability to absorb venom.
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May Help In Weight LossDue to the extremely low number of calories found in longan, it might be very effective in losing weight. The nutrient density may help suppress the appetite, despite being able to eat as many of these fruits as you want without any real fear of compromising on your caloric intake.
May Increase EnergyIn Chinese traditional medicine, it was believed that longan could help to balance the Qi, which may improve energy levels, prevent chronic disease, reduce dizziness, and boost metabolism. Millions of anecdotal reports from China confirm the energy-boosting potential of this fruit.
May Regulate Blood PressurePotassium, present in longan, may have been directly linked to lowering blood pressure. The mineral is a vasodilator, which means that it can release the tension in your blood vessels and arteries, which may ultimately protect the cardiovascular system and reduce your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
May Provide NeuroprotectionResearch has found that longan may help balance the electrolytes in the body, and this can, in turn, help improve the function of the nervous system. The electrical signals required for every action in the body must pass through the electrolytes, so this fruit can help overall function and even muscle movement.
Longan, Lychee, & Rambutan
Even though longan, lychee, and rambutan belong to the same family of fruits, Sapindaceae, they are all very different when they are removed from their outer skins and coverings (white flesh, central seed, etc.). Lychee is certainly the most well-known of these three around the globe, but longan and rambutan are quite popular throughout Asia as well.
Appearance: Longan, as mentioned, is yellowish and slightly larger than a grape. Lychee has a red outer skin that might be mistaken for rambutan but they are notably smaller. However, the rambutan fruit is bright orange with dozens of small spikes coming off the golf ball-shaped body of the fruit.
Taste: In terms of taste, longan tends to be a bit tart, while lychee has more actual juice and makes for a more refreshing bite. Rambutan, on the other hand, has firm flesh and it has a sweet, creamy, and slightly floral taste. Rambutan is the sweetest of the three. When you eat the fruit or mix them in cocktails, it can often be difficult to distinguish between their tastes.
Longan (Dimocarpus longan) is a small, round, sweet, and watery fruit that is verry similar to lychee fruit. It has a yellowish-brown thick shell, also known as a pericarp, which hardens as it ages.
When it‘s young and fresh, you can peel the pericarp off to get a translucent, white, watery pulp embedding a big black seed, almost like an eye. You need to separate the seed to eat it. However, the seeds can also be processed to obtain essential oils and extracts.