The Lychee: Nutritional Properties, Benefits and Contraindications

If you like exotic fruits, you mustn't fail to include the lychee in your diet, as it's a fruit that stands out for its vitamin C and antioxidant content.
The Lychee: Nutritional Properties, Benefits and Contraindications
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 21 April, 2023

The lychee is a tropical fruit that can bring several health benefits if it’s regularly included in the diet. It has several antioxidants that will neutralize the production of free radicals.

It’s also excellent from an organoleptic point of view. It’s native to southern China and grows on a tree that can reach 12 meters (about 40 feet) in height. Its skin is pink and rough, and the pulp is white.

Before starting, it should be noted that the presence of fruit in the diet is recommended by most nutrition experts. These foods are a source of high-quality micronutrients and antioxidant phytochemicals. Thanks to this, negative effects in our internal physiology can be prevented, which will ensure we maintain a good state of health over the years.

The lychee: benefits

The lychee.
The vitamin C in lychees will help protect your body from diseases.

First of all, it’s key to note that lychees are a source of vitamin C, a nutrient that has been shown to enhance immune function, both innate and adaptive. It helps to reduce the incidence of infections, which will result in improved well-being. Even in the case of illness, maintaining an optimal level of vitamin C will allow a more precise symptomatological control, with less intense symptoms.

Moreover, lychees provide a significant amount of folic acid. This element is essential, especially for pregnant women. During pregnancy, there’s an increased requirement of this substance.

In fact, if the needs aren’t met, the risk of malformations in the fetus increases. According to a study published in BMC Medicine , supplementation is crucial at this stage of life.

It’s worth mentioning that thanks to the presence of vitamin C inside lychees, the absorption of some minerals, such as iron, can be enhanced. This combination will help to reduce the incidence of anemia, a pathology that causes chronic tiredness and fatigue. It’s always better to go for prevention, as once it develops it’s usually difficult to restore the body to how it should be.

Neither should we forget that the antioxidants provided by the lychee could help reduce the incidence of several complex pathologies. According to research published in the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, regular intake of phytochemicals can block the formation of free radicals and their subsequent accumulation in the body’s tissues. In this way, alterations in internal homeostasis will be prevented.

Nutritional value of lychees

Each unit of lychee provides about 6 calories. 1.5 grams are simple carbohydrates and the protein and fat content is practically residual. Lychees are a source of several micronutrients. Vitamin C, potassium, and some group B vitamins stand out in this respect, as does folic acid.

Being so low in calories, it’s a perfect fruit to introduce in the context of a hypocaloric diet with where weight loss is the objective. However, it’s always advisable to be careful with sugars in this kind of situation.

Although the sugars in the fruit aren’t considered particularly harmful, an accumulation of them in the body could lead to the development of diseases such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

How to consume lychees?

Some lychees.
Peel lychees and eat them fresh, or prepare smoothies with them.

Generally speaking, lychees are usually consumed in their natural, fresh form. It’s enough to remove the peel that covers them to be able to taste their fruit. In addition, it’s possible to include these fruits in different recipes for desserts and smoothies.

For example, it’s common to prepare a smoothie with several lychees and a water or vegetable drink, which you can sweeten at the end with some artificial sweetener to improve its organoleptic characteristics even more.

The lychee: a very healthy fruit

As you can see, the inclusion of lychees in the regular diet is considered very positive for health. These exotic foods are a source of essential nutrients that help the body to function efficiently, thus preventing the development of diseases over the years. However, it’s crucial to include them in the context of a varied diet to avoid deficits that condition the state of homeostasis.

Finally, remember to give priority to seasonal fruits. Normally, their nutritional value is high. Also, their organoleptic characteristics will be enjoyed even more. Of course, there’s the option of freezing these foods at their optimum point of ripeness in order to consume them later. They won’t lose their properties and their shelf life will be extended.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1211. Published 2017 Nov 3. doi:10.3390/nu9111211
  • McNulty H, Rollins M, Cassidy T, et al. Effect of continued folic acid supplementation beyond the first trimester of pregnancy on cognitive performance in the child: a follow-up study from a randomized controlled trial (FASSTT Offspring Trial). BMC Med. 2019;17(1):196. Published 2019 Oct 31. doi:10.1186/s12916-019-1432-4
  • Neha K, Haider MR, Pathak A, Yar MS. Medicinal prospects of antioxidants: A review. Eur J Med Chem. 2019;178:687-704. doi:10.1016/j.ejmech.2019.06.010

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.