Longan, known as longan fruit, is an exotic fruit with white flesh which belongs to the soapberry family.
It is well known for its similarities with lychee. Longan fruit is also known as dragon eye fruit due to the pupil shape made by its black seed and white flesh.
This fruit is a tasty addition to smoothies, salads, jellies, and puddings. All you need to do is to peel away its outer shell and enjoy this fruit, which tastes more like grapes. The seeds of these fruits are not recommended to eat.
Longan fruit is not only an excellent addition to your diet, but it can provide numerous health benefits due to its high nutritional profile.
This fruit has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicines.
What is Longan?
Longan is a small, sweet, watery fruit similar to lychee. The shell of this fruit is thick and yellowish in color, known as pericarp.
When the fruit is young and fresh, the pericarp can be easily removed to get the translucent, white watery pulp with a black seed in it, which looks like an eye.
The seed should be removed while eating. But these seeds can be used in processing essential oils and extract.
This super delicious tropical fruit belongs to the Sapindaceae family and is mostly grown in Vietnam.
It is believed that the Longan plant originated from the mountains present between Southern China and Myanmar.
Some other reported origins of this plant include Sri Lanka, North Thailand, India, and Upper Myanmar.
Four hundred years later, this tree was growing in China. It was officially introduced in Australia in the 1800s and after that in Hawaii and Florida in the 1900s.
The warm and sandy soil condition makes the growth of this tree easier. Despite its success in China, the longan tree was considered a new fruit in the world.
It has only been acknowledged outside China in the last 250 years.
Currently, the crops of longan are grown widely in Southern China, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Philippines, The United States, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Northern Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Where to Buy Longan?
Well, this is a complicated question. Because longan is a tropical fruit that is still somewhat rare depending on your location, the most reliable type of longan that can be found is dried or canned
- NestLady Natural Dried Longan
- Arroy-D Canned Longan in Syrup
- Whole Foods Market Fresh Longan (seasonal/regional)
Sometimes, fresh longan can be found in bigger cities, and more tropical areas, usually in specialty or international markets.
Nutritional Value of Longan Fruit
100 grams of Longan fruit can provide:
- Calories: 60 kcal
- Carbs: 15.14 g
- Fiber: 1.10 g
- Fat: 0.10 g
- Protein: 1.31 g
- Vitamin C: 84 mg
- Potassium: 266 mg
- Manganese: 0.05 mg
- Copper: 0.17 mg
- Phosphorus: 21 mg
- Iron: 0.13 mg
Longan is not only a good source of fiber and protein, but it contains a large number of vitamins and minerals as well.
The amount of vitamin in longan is 120% of the daily recommended value of a person’s vitamin C, which is essential for many important processes of the body and boosts immunity.
Health Benefits of Longan Fruit
Due to its high nutritional value, longan fruit can provide a lot of health benefits. It does so without adding many extra calories to your diet. That’s why this fruit can be added to the list of superfoods.
1. Anti-cancer effect:
Longan contains a large number of polyphenols. These polyphenols, like gallic acid, can eliminate the free radial and toxic substances that can cause some chronic diseases.
Not only the fruit but the flower and seed of this longan plant contain a high amount of antioxidants.
That’s why the seed extract of longan fruit has been used for medicinal purposes.
This extract has been used to suppress and destroy the undesirable oncoprotein in the tumors because of its ability to interfere with DNA synthesis.
Several studies (Chih-Cheng Lin, 2012) have also described this fruit’s anti-cancer effect.
According to one study, longan fruit or seed extract powder can inhibit liver, lungs, breast, colorectal, and cervix cancer cells.
2. Anti-inflammatory effect:
Longan fruit pulp has been used for centuries to heal wounds, allergies, flu, and other inflammatory diseases in Asians.
The pulp, seeds, and outer layer of longan fruit contain anti-inflammatory phytochemicals like gallic acid, ellagic acid, and epicatechins.
These all compounds have been shown to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals like nitric oxide, histamines, and tissue necrosis factors in the human body.
Not only this, but the presence of a large amount of vitamins B and C also helps in treating inflammatory conditions like skin allergies, wounds, burns, irritable bowel syndrome, and edema.
According to a study (Huang, 2012), all parts of the longan fruit have anti-inflammatory properties.
They contain gallic acid, ellagic acid, and epicatechins, which result in reducing the release of an inflammatory substance in the body.
The pulp and mesocarp can also provide enough anti-inflammatory benefits.
3. Treat iron deficiency:
Iron deficiency has become a common medical condition nowadays. But this iron deficiency can be treated by eating delicious fruit like longan.
There are a lot of people who don’t meet their daily required value of iron, especially women and children.
Longan extract has been used in Chinese traditional medicine to treat anemia, thrombocytopenia, and other blood-related conditions.
One ounce of dried longan can provide 1.5 mg of iron. So, adding longan into your salads or fruit custards can boost the hemoglobin concentration and platelet count, especially in menstruating and pregnant women.
4. Gives glowing and younger skin:
Phytochemicals can treat various skin disorders, and longan has a large amount of these phytochemicals.
Bioactive compounds like gallic acid and ellagic acid in dried longans have a significant free radical scavenging activity, reducing skin cancer risk.
Moreover, consuming such potent antioxidants can provide clean and bright skin with a reduced risk of photosensitivity.
Longan also contains a high level of vitamin C, which reverses the signs of aging. In addition, this fruit also helps in collagen formation, forming new cells, and keeping the skin healthy.
According to a study (Juliet M. Pullar, 2017), vitamin C in longan can reduce oxidative damage to the skin caused by free radicals.
Therefore, it is good for skin health, as it minimizes the peeling of the skin and reduces dryness to retain the youthful glow.
5. Prevents and treats insomnia:
Today, most individuals are suffering from insomnia and sleeplessness due to this fast-paced lifestyle.
Various medicines and drugs are available to treat insomnia that targets the histamine receptors, GABA receptors, and other active centers of the brain.
These drugs can provide temporary benefits but with long-term side effects. But, longan can help in naturally treating insomnia without any side effects.
The leaves and pulp of longan have bioactive compounds that can reduce the risk of anxiety, stress, and insomnia by suppressing the levels of neurotransmitters that cause these.
According to research (Shi, 2014),if longan is used with hypnotic derivatives, it can also increase sleep duration and rate.
This fruit can also increase memory and learning by increasing the rate of immature neuronal survival.
The extract of longan fruit has also been shown to reduce the level of the stress hormone cortisol, which results in improving sleep quality.
6. Increase immunity:
Longan fruit is also very popular due to its antimicrobial property, increasing immunity in fighting against infections.
Moreover, this fruit is a rich source of vitamin C, a well-known antioxidant that fights against free radicals.
Studies (Hemilä, 1992) have also supported this claim that consuming longan fruit positively affects the immune system’s defense mechanism by increasing the production of white blood cells.
The presence of vitamin C means an increase in collagen production, which is essential for muscles, tissues, and cells present within the human body.
A proper level of collagen means that muscles and cells can repair efficiently.
Furthermore, if longan is infused with tea and herbals, it can prevent respiratory conditions like sore throat, common cold, sore throat, and fever.
7. Heart health:
Several studies show the benefits of vitamin C, as an antioxidant, for heart health. It may help reduce the arteries’ stiffness, which can result in various cardiovascular diseases.
The supplements of vitamin C can not provide this effect. But getting this vitamin from plant sources like longan suggested works better for heart health.
Moreover, the antioxidants present within longan fruit help in eliminating free radicals and reducing their effect on the body, which can result in preventing the mutation of healthy cells and lowering the risk of chronic diseases.
More Longan Benefits:
Longan can provide other health benefits as well:
- Aid in digestion: Both dried and fresh longans contain a high amount of fiber that improves bowel movement and prevents symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, cramping, bloating, and other stomach-related issues.
- Improves memory: Various studies (Lin, 2012) have shown the link between longan consumption and improved cognitive abilities.
This may be due to the high amount of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of longan.
- Alleviate snake bites: In Vietnam, the seed of longan fruit is commonly used to treat snakebite.
The seeds are crushed and made into a paste pressed against the infected area. The seeds of longan contain saponin, which can absorb venom.
- Improve vision and dental health: B vitamins like B6, B12, and folic acid in tropical fruits like longan, can improve vision and reduce the chances of age-related macular degeneration.
These B vitamins also keep the teeth and gums healthy.
- Helps in weight loss: Due to the low calories in longan, it can be very effective in weight loss.
Moreover, fiber can help reduce appetite by keeping you feel full for longer. So, you can easily add this kind of fruit to your diet without worrying about weight and calories.
- May boost libido: Longan tonic has been very popular among Chinese women to increase their sensuality and appearance.
This fruit is also considered to increase energy and stave off fatigue. This is because of the high amount of fruit sugar present within this fruit, which works as an energy booster.
How to Select and Store Longan
Longan is present in both fresh and dried forms. While choosing fresh longan, ensure it is fully ripened, has deep tan color, and is not bruised.
Fresh longan can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. The best way to store longan is to place it into a plastic bag and put it in the fridge with the top left open.
The skin of the longan may become hard, but it does not affect the inner flesh and its deliciousness.
Longan is also available in the form of canned fruits. But, when buying canned fruits, make sure to check the ingredients if they contain added sugar and preservatives.
The best-canned fruits are those which are canned into their juice or extract. For best nutrition and health benefits, choose fresh longan fruit and use it uncooked.
How to Use Longan
Since the longan is present in fresh, canned, and dried forms, it can be used as three different ingredients.
Canned and dried longan can be added to various dishes to add flavor. Dried longan may need soaking for some recipes.
Here are some of the ways through which longan can be easily added to the diet:
- Add it into salads with some mint and citrus for a refreshing side dish
- Mix it with other fresh fruits for a delicious fruit salad
- Placed unshelled longan into the fridge and enjoy a frosty treat
- Make a longan smoothie by blending it with coconut milk and banana
- Canned longan can be added to curries and other dishes
- Add dried longan in overnight oats or cook it with oatmeal
- Dried longan can also be used in traditional teas with some red dates
- Turn longan into delicious jam and jellies
These are some of the easy ways to add longan into your diet.
You can have this fruit as you like, raw, cooked, frozen, or in your beverages. Just make sure to peel it properly and remove its seeds.
Bottom Line on the Longan Fruit:
Longan, also known as dragon’s eye fruit, is not only a delicious addition to recipes and your diet routine but can also provide numerous health benefits.
This fruit has a high content of vitamin C, which is linked with various benefits like boosting immunity, damaging free radicals, and also enhancing and making skin glow.
Longan can also reduce the risk of various chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
This is due to the presence of antioxidants and the anti-inflammatory properties of this fruit.
His fruit can be easily added to the diet and easily available in the supermarkets in fresh and dried forms.
You can add this fruit to smoothies, desserts, or other recipes. But, in order to get all the benefits of these fruits, try to eat them fresh and raw.