Health Benefits of Lychee Fruit

Lychee fruit is a small round fruit with red scaly skin, sweet juicy pulp, and one large seed. Lychee is also known as litchi. It’s a popular fruit in Asia and found in many desserts and drinks like jellies, cocktails, and ice creams. 

‌‌Lychee is a fruit that’s been cultivated for thousands of years in China. Today it grows in many regions including India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, and the United States.

You can buy lychee fresh, dried, and canned. Lychee is also made into preserves, wine, and sauces.

Calories and Nutrition in Lychee

A 100-gram (3.5-ounce) serving of fresh lychee fruit contains:

  • 66 calories
  • 0.83 grams of protein
  • 0.44 grams of fat
  • 16.5 grams of carbohydrates
  • 1.3 grams of dietary fiber
  • 15.2 grams of sugar
  • 71.5 milligrams of Vitamin C

Possible Health Benefits of Lychee Fruit

Lychee is a fruit containing healthy vitamins and antioxidants. Here are some of its health benefits.

Daily fruit intake. It’s recommended that you get at least 1.5 to 2.5 cups of fruit a day and 2 to 4 cups of vegetables. Eating more fruits and vegetables can help lower your risk of developing illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.

Trying new fruits and vegetables like lychee make your meals more interesting. Eating fruits instead of a dessert may help you stick to a weight control plan.

Vitamins. Lychee fruit is a good source of vitamin C. It’s recommended that adults get about 75 milligrams to 90 milligrams of vitamin C every day. A 100-gram serving of lychee gives you 71.5 milligrams of vitamin C.

Liver health. Your liver plays several important functions in your body. This includes converting nutrients into substances your body can use and removing toxins. Early studies have found that lychee fruit may be able to help control liver disease. 

Anti-cancer activity. Lychee extract has possible anti-cancer properties. It may have the potential to stop the cell growth of different cancers. But more studies are needed. 

Oligonol. Lychee fruit contains a polyphenol called oligonol. This acts as an antioxidant.

Continued

Oligonol is also used as a dietary supplement. It’s a product made of compounds derived from lychee fruit extract and green tea extract.

A 12-week study of overweight and obese women found that those who took oligonol had lower triglycerides and no weight gain compared to those who took a placebo.

Other studies suggest that oligonol may affect inflammation and cortisol levels after exercise.

Cortisol is one of your body’s stress hormones. It also regulates your metabolism, immune, and inflammatory responses.

Oligonol is derived from lychee fruit extract. But it’s produced by a manufacturing process that alters these antioxidants. So the lychee you buy at the grocery store may not have these effects.

Adverse Effects of Lychee Fruit

When eaten as part of a healthy diet, lychees typically don’t adversely affect your health. 

Low blood sugar. Lychee fruit has been linked to brain inflammation in children in some villages in India. Researchers say a compound in lychees known as hypoglycin A can cause your blood sugar level to drop. This results in low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.

But malnutrition may also have been part of the blood sugar issues in this study. Many of these children ate lychees and didn’t have dinner. They fell sick the next morning with symptoms like seizures and high fever

Allergies . Lychee contains some proteins that can lead to rare allergic reactions. There have been few scientific studies on allergies to lychee fruit. They reported symptoms such as:

  • Hives (urticaria)
  • Itchiness
  • Swelling of the lips and tongue
  • Difficulty breathing.

How to Use Lychee

You can find fresh lychee in some grocery stores. Asian supermarkets often sell canned and dried lychees. Canned lychees often have sugar added. Check the label to see if they’re in sugar-sweetened syrup or their own juice. 

In the US, lychee season begins in May and runs through the summer. You can refrigerate fresh lychee fruit for 5 to 10 days. It can also be frozen whole with the peel on. Dried lychee can be stored for up to 1 year at room temperature.

Some ways to use fresh or canned lychee include:

  • Using lychee juice (from a can of lychee fruit) to make a cocktail
  • Stir-frying it with pork, chicken, or shrimp
  • Chopping up lychee and mixing it with avocado, lime juice, cilantro, and onion to make a salsa
  • Making a fruit salad with lychee fruit, pineapple chunks, melon, and other favorite fruits. 
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on May 26, 2021

Sources

SOURCES: 

American Heart Association: “Time is ripe for trying new fruits and vegetables.”

Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety: “Nutrient components, health benefits, and safety of litchi (Litchi chinensis Sonn.): A review."

Current Nutrition and Food Science: “Supplementation with Oligonol, Prevents Weight Gain and Improves Lipid Profile in Overweight and Obese Saudi Females.”

Food and Chemical Toxicology: “Acute, subchronic and genotoxicity studies conducted with Oligonol, an oligomerized polyphenol formulated from lychee and green tea extracts.”

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Vegetables and Fruits.”

International Healthcare Research Journal: “Lychee Associated Encephalopathy: Myth or Reality?”

Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology: “Exotic food allergy: anaphylactic reaction to lychee.”

Michigan State University: “Lychee - sweet and crisp.”

National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin C.”

Nutrition Research and Practice: “The effect of Oligonol intake on cortisol and related cytokines in healthy young men.”

Pharmacognosy Communications: “Lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.), the King of Fruits, with Both Traditional and Modern Pharmacological Health Benefits.”

Thau, L., Gandhi, J., Sharma, S. Physiology, Cortisol. StatPearls Publishing, 2021.

U.S. Department of Agriculture: “Litchis, raw,” “MyPlate: Fruits.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination

Get Diet and Fitness Tips In Your Inbox

Eat better and exercise smarter. Sign up for the Food & Fitness newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.