What are the Health Benefits of Longan?

longan benefits
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It is a known fact that having fresh fruits for breakfast or as an afternoon snack give your body the essential nutrients to sustain through the day. Knowing some key fruits and how to include them in the diet is important as it is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Understanding longan benefits and the nutrients that this unique fruit provides, will help us add it to our diet and maintain a variety of fruits we consume daily.

Nutrition Facts of Longan

Longan is a fruit similar to Lychee, and both belong to the soapberry family. Extensively found in the tropical forests, longan is said to be a native of South Asia.

Quite literally, the translation of this name means ‘dragon’s eye’ as the fruit resembles an eye due to its translucent flesh through which the black seed can be seen like a pupil or iris. The fruit packs a lot on the nutritional value.

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For a 100g serving of the peeled and de-seeded longan fruit, the nutrients are as below.

Nutrient Quantity/ 100g
Calories 60
Carbohydrates 15.1g
Total Fat 0.1g
Proteins and Amino Acids 1.3g
Vitamin C 84mg
Riboflavin 0.1mg
Niacin 0.3mg
Calcium 1.g
Iron 0.1mg
Magnesium 10mg
Phosphorus 21mg
Potassium 266mg
Zinc 0.1mg
Copper 0.2mg
Manganese 0.1mg
Water 82.7g
Ash 0.7g

Longan is considered low in cholesterol and sodium. It is a very good source of potassium, thiamin, riboflavin and it contains good amounts of vitamin C.

Health Benefits of Eating Longan

Longan fruit extract works as an excellent antioxidant. A number of studies have suggested its effectiveness as an antioxidant when tests were conducted on lab mice.

We will look at the case study in detail; but before that, here are a few longan benefits that we can take avail by adding the fruit to our diet.

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1. Excellent as a low-calorie diet

For those who wish to keep a tab on their weight, the longan fruit is a healthy option to snack on. A whole cup of longan extract will provide just 35 calories. It is a must-have fruit for those who wish to follow a low-calorie diet.

2. Improve the immune system

The high content of vitamin C improves the body’s defense mechanism, guarding the body against cold, flu, and other infections.

It also helps in the absorption of iron in the blood and increases our hemoglobin and energy levels. Hence, it helps fight anemia in a way. It gives us a healthy skin and much more.

The fruit is particularly helpful for the very thin and delicate skin near our eyes. It prevents the formation of wrinkles and peeling of the skin around the eyes.

3. Acts as an antioxidant, heals wounds, and more

The fruit has been long used in traditional medicine for soothing nerves, reducing inflammation, insomnia, and more.

Longan is a very good anti-depressant. Consuming the fruit helps to relax the nerves and lower irritability and fatigue, thus giving the body a relaxed and satiated feeling.

Longan is a natural antioxidant and a study carried out in Taiwan indicates the same. In a collaborative study, the water extract of the longan pericarp (WLP) was tested for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

The results showed that WLP indeed decreased inflammatory responses and suppressed oxidation.

Case Study on Anti-oxidant & Anti-inflammatory Properties of Longan

In a joint study conducted by universities in China and Taiwan, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of longan (Dimocarpus longan lour) were studied in detail.

Upon studying the effect of Dimocarpus longan pericarp, it was found to show anti-inflammatory properties in a certain type of samples.

The high content of bioactive compounds such as phenolic acid, flavonoids, and polysaccharides gives it natural antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties.

However, as per the study, it needs to be further investigated and additional research has to be done to establish the effectiveness of this fruit in treating certain types of inflammations and as an aid to reducing the risk of certain types of cancer.

Longan vs. Lychee: Which is Healthier?

Both these fruits come from the same family and have a number of similarities. Including appearance, the way they are consumed and the taste too.

While both the fruits pack a good punch when it comes to nutritional value, they can be altered based on personal taste and preferences.

Longan, as well as lychee, have a good amount of vitamin C. Lychee, on the other hand, has a number of other minerals and vitamins. Fresh lychee provides niacin, vitamin B-6, and folate which are essential to build good cholesterol and a healthy nervous system.

The folate in lychee is good for pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects. Folate, in general, is essential for women, especially in the reproductive age group.

Both these fruits, however, can spike blood sugar levels if eaten in very large quantities. Eating in moderation is the best option, be it longan or lychee.

Longan pit is known to be effective in treating snake bites. When applied to the affected area, the pit tends to absorb the venom from the blood and works as an antidote.

Is it Safe to Eat Longan During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a state where the life and well-being of both the unborn child and expecting mother depend a lot on the kind of foods eaten and the state of mind. There are certain foods that are a must eat and some that need to be avoided as far as possible. Which category does longan fall into?

The answer is No. Pregnant women should avoid eating longan during all the trimesters. Longans are hot; they tend to increase the heat in the body. It is often found that pregnancy induces sentiments of hot flashes and consuming longans only adds fuel to this body heat.

It is also known to boost fetal derangement and damage to the unborn baby. It can cause lower abdominal pain and bleeding which may lead to a complicated pregnancy. It is also known to increase the risk of miscarriage.

The risks are far more than the sweet taste and other health benefits and hence it is best to keep away from this fruit during pregnancy.

In Conclusion

Longan is known as the dragon eye due to its dark pit inside a translucent flesh. It gives this fruit the appearance of an eyeball. It has its own health benefits but comes with some risks in certain conditions such as pregnancy. Exercise caution when consuming this fruit as it can be spike blood sugar levels when taken in excess.

A general rule to follow when eating these tropical exotic fruits – exercise moderation and keep their intake limited. You can go a bit overboard on healthier fruits like the banana or an apple as long as you have an active lifestyle and other medical conditions befitting.

Most of the benefits given here are anecdotal and lack any scientific evidence. More research need to go into areas such as the use of longan pits as antidote for snake bites and the exact risks during pregnancy.

Most of the benefits given here are anecdotal and lack any scientific evidence. More research needs to go into areas such as the use of longan pit as an antidote for snake bites and the exact risks during pregnancy.


Sources:
“Longans, Raw”; http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1948/2 , last accessed September 13, 2017
“Top 10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Longan”, June 9, 2017; http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/top-10-amazing-health-benefits-of-longan/#gref, last accessed September 13, 2017
Hayati, “Top Nine Fruits To Avoid During Pregnancy”; http://stylesatlife.com/articles/fruits-to-avoid-during-pregnancy/, last accessed September 14, 2017
Healthline, “Longan Fruit vs. Lychee: Health Benefits, Nutrition Information, and Uses”; http://www.healthline.com/health/longan-fruit-vs-lychee-benefits#takeaway5, last accessed September 14, 2017
Guan-Jhong Huang, Et Al, “Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Longan (Dimocarpus longan Lour.) Pericarp”, August 26, 2012; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3433710/, last accessed September 14, 2017
“Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Longan (Dimocarpus longan Lour.) Pericarp”, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3433710/, last accessed September 15, 2017