Longan sounds like the name of a mutant from the X-Men, doesn’t it? Fortunately, neither is it a mutant nor is it fictitious.
This tropical fruit undoubtedly has the powers of a mutant, but they are beneficial and not destructive. This little brother of lychee has wound healing, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory powers.
Read on to find out more about longan fruit and its benefits.
Table Of Contents
What Is Longan?
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.
These super delicious tropical fruits of the Sapindaceae family are grown widely in Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, and China. Locals use longan in sorbets, jellies, salads, desserts, and puddings.
But longan is not just another exotic South-Asian fruit since it has been used for many years in traditional medicine.
Let’s explore the different ways longan can help your body and nurse you to health.
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Longan?
1. Has Anticancer Effects
Longans have high levels of polyphenols. The polyphenolic compounds like gallic acid eliminate the stress-causing free radicals and toxic intermediates that can cause cancer. The fruit, flower, and the seed are equally potent antioxidants.
Traditional Chinese medicine has used longan seed extracts that interfere with DNA synthesis and suppress the undesirable oncoproteins in the tumors, in turn, destroying them.
Hence, consuming longan fruits or seed extract powders can systematically inhibit breast, colorectal, liver, lung, and cervix cancer cells (1).
2. Has Anti-inflammatory Effects
The Asians used longan fruit pulp to heal wounds, allergies, flu, and other inflammatory diseases.
The pericarp (outer layer), pulp, and seeds have anti-inflammatory phytochemicals like gallic acid, epicatechin, and ellagic acid.(2)
These compounds inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals like prostaglandins, histamines, nitric oxide, and tissue necrosis factor (TNF) in your body (3).
Also, because of the abundance of vitamins B and C, longans promote healing and treat chronic inflammatory conditions like edema, GERD, irritable bowel disease (IBS), skin allergies, wounds, burns, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease.(4)
3. Treats Anemia And Iron Deficiency
Longan extracts, along with other native herbs, are used in Chinese traditional medicine to cure intractable anemia, thrombocytopenia, and other blood-related disorders. It was identified that urban women who did not maintain WHO recommended level of iron in their diets (<5 servings of fruit or vegetables per day) were at a higher risk of moderate and severe anemia (5).
Dried longans contain 1.5 mg of iron per ounce. Having longans in your fruit custard or salad will boost the platelet count and hemoglobin concentration – especially in menstruating and expecting women (6).
4. Gives Young And Glowing Skin
Phytochemicals have always been the best solution to treat various disorders, and longan has them in abundance.
Bioactive compounds like corilagin, gallic acid, and ellagic acid in dried longans possess the highest free radical scavenging activity. The fruit also has antityrosinase activity and hence can prevent the onset of cancers (7).
Consuming such a potent antioxidant can give you clean, bright, and spotless skin with reduced risk of developing photosensitivity or skin cancer.
5. Reduces Stress And Treats Insomnia
Commercially available drugs to treat insomnia that target the GABA receptors, histamine receptors, and other active centers of your brain have temporary benefits and long-term side effects. The leaves and pulp of longan have bioactive compounds that suppress the levels of neurotransmitters that cause anxiety, insomnia, and stress.
A 2014 research claims that longans, in combination with other hypnotic derivatives, can increase the rate of sleep and sleep duration. This fruit can also enhance learning and memory by increasing the rate of immature neuronal survival (9).
Though the mechanism is yet to be understood, it doesn’t hurt to start eating this little tangy-sweet, fibrous, and pulpy fruit for all the health benefits it may provide.
And when you look at the nutritional profile of longan, you have even more reason to love this deliciously sweet and musky fruit. Check it out!
Nutrient Profile Of Longans
|Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)||~||~|
You must be wondering if there’s a way to rope in all the vitamin C, potassium, and the fiber this fruit contains. I’ve got that covered!
I’ve collected some simple and quick recipes with longans for you. Would you want to give then a shot? Scroll down!
2 Quick And Simple Recipes With Longan Fruit
1. Longan-Banana Smoothie
- Longan fruits: 5, fresh and ripe
- Banana: 1
- Coconut milk or water: 1 cup
Let’s Make It!
- Discard the hard outer shells and seeds of the longans.
- In a blender, make a smooth puree of the longans.
- Break the banana into smaller pieces and add them to the blender.
- Pour in coconut milk or water. Blend until you obtain a smooth mixture.
- Refrigerate before serving (if you prefer).
- That’s the best tropical beach-side-chiller drink you’ve made, by the way!
2. Longan Steamed Egg Custard
- Longans: 8 fresh, peeled
- Longan syrup: 2 cups
- Eggs: 3, medium-large size
- Baking ramekins
Note: The quantity of beaten eggs should be exactly equal to that of longan syrup. Here, the volume is set to 2 cups each.
Let’s Make It!
- In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and set aside.
- Add the longan syrup to the bowl and whisk thoroughly.
- Sieve the egg mixture into two ramekins. You can make many smaller portions if you prefer.
- Add two peeled longan fruits to each ramekin.
- Steam for 8 minutes.
- Serve hot topped with extra longans.
- This is how you make a quick, filling, and exotic snack bowl!
Weren’t you instantly transported to the East Asian kitchens and seas? Such is longan’s exotic taste!
Though they taste heavenly and are bountiful nutrient carriers, could there be drawbacks of eating longan fruits?
Let’s find out!
What Are The Side Effects Of Eating Longan Fruits?
There are not many side effects of binging on longans that have been documented. But there is a possibility that you can be allergic to longan. The chances are super low, though. The key is portion size.
But there’s one concern that stands out –
High Carbs And Sugar Content
People with diabetes should not consume longans. Although it boosts your immunity because of its high levels of vitamins C and B, what’s alarming is the sugar content.
Each ounce of raw longans has about 20.7 g of carbs. This might increase the blood glucose levels in susceptible people.
You can try other low carb alternatives like melons, camu camu, and berries to get your dose of these vitamins and minerals.
The Take Home Message…
Dimocarpus longan is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Almost every part of the fruit offers a multitude of benefits.
The fruit not only tastes great, but it is also a reservoir of bioactive ingredients – such as gallic acid, epicatechin, quercetin, and other saponins – that make it a potent antioxidant, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, mildly sleep-inducing, vulnerary, and anticancer agent.
So, if you happen to visit the Asian countries, you know what to eat!
If you can get home some longans (or even grow them in your kitchen garden), you might want to try recipes I had shared.
If you liked what you read and got all that you were looking up on longan fruits, please share this article and spread the word.
Feel free to send in your feedback, suggestions, and comments about this read in the box below.
Get home some Lo’n’gan and feel like a superhero!
Food taboos across the world say no to ‘wet-hot’ foods like mangoes, lychees, pineapple, and shrimp during pregnancy.
Such foods increase the internal heat in your body, causing problems in the unborn child and while delivering. Traditions in the Eastern and African countries prohibit consumption of such foods (10).
Since research has not proven it yet, you should consult your doctor about having longans while you are carrying or nursing your child.
How long does it take for a longan tree to bear fruits? What is the best season?
Seedling trees may take up to 6 years to bear fruits, whereas air layered trees may bear fruits 2 to 3 years after planting.
The main blooming season for longans is from February/March through April and the beginning of May. Harvest is generally during June, July, or August.
However, some cultivars produce off-season blooms and fruits are harvested 3 to 6 months later.
- “The memory-enhancing effects of…” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, US National Library of Medicine.