Rambutan (Nephelium Lappaceum) is a very interesting and amazing fruit that’s native to Southeast Asia and has widely been cultivated in areas like Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.
It has a sweet taste and is high in nutrition and health benefits. In appearance, the rambutan looks like a lychee with messy hair on it.
Rambutan trees can go up to heights of 80 feet. The trunk is strong and smooth widened from the bottom. The tree contains small flowers and leaflet sets of 4 to 11.
Rambutan means “hair” in the Malay language and that’s where the name is derived from. Its numerous hair lumps refer to the origin of the fruit’s name.
Within this hairy protuberance cover is a rose-white tinted, juicy, translucent, sweet with a bit of sour-tasting flesh. It just has a single seed that is also more or less oblong or ovoid or flattened.
Taste of Rambutan fruit
The texture of Rambutan fruit seems like lychee but the taste differs as it is a more sweet and creamy texture and has a pinch of sourness in it. The Rambutan fruit has a mildly acidic flavor. If the fruit appears black instead of red or green it is over-ripe.
Fact: These over-ripe black rambutans are mostly consumed by fruit flies and fruit-consuming bats, birds, and flying foxes.
How to eat Rambutan Fruit?
The color of the fruit will tell you a lot about the right time to eat it. If the fruit has attained red color then this means it is ripe now and you can pick it for eating. If the fruit goes black and has black hairs it means the fruit is over-ripe to be consumed.
If you are done with picking the fruit that is ripe and juicy. Just wash it out first and clean it. It is super easy to consume a Rambutan fruit just peel of the outer hairy layer and take out the translucent juicy part and eat it but don’t swallow the seed.
I have seen three ways people use for peeling off the outer coat of Rambutan fruit. The first ones are those who just peel it off by hand using their fingers to tear the covering. Second, are those who just bite on the hairy coat of rambutan fruit without cringing. And third ones are those who are tidier. They use the knife to cut the coating from the center and take out the fruit just to eat it. (I belong to the third party)
Uses of Rambutan Fruit
- This fruit is typically eaten fresh.
- Rambutans are commonly eaten out of hand as they are delicious to resist or wait.
- You can also add it to cuisines like curries, sorbets, ice-creams, and fruit salads.
- Rambutans pureed serve well for smoothies and jams.
- To balance the heat of spiciness, rambutan fruit can be used in curries.
- Rambutan fruits are often consumed canned in raw form.
Comparison between lychee, Rambutans, and Longan fruits
Rambutans share a similar nutritional profile with lychees and longans. The size of rambutans is the biggest of all among its family fruits and it tastes sweet and creamy.
The other two are smaller comparatively and differ in taste as well. The lychee is less sweet and often crispier in texture. While longans are under the brown covering that is least sweet and tart in flavor.
The nutritional profile and color of these three fruits are similar despite their appearances.
1. Rambutan is packed with potassium
Most fruits and vegetables contain potassium, but rambutan is higher in potassium than most. Potassium regulates your blood pressure and helps keep it low. A high-potassium diet may help prevent strokes, reduce harmful deposits in your arteries, and lower your risk of developing kidney stones.
The fruit also contains healthy amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc. Zinc helps you heal wounds faster and protects against colds, while manganese supports a healthy metabolism. Magnesium keeps bones strong and prevents muscle cramps. Phosphorus supports bone health as well as growth and development in children.
On the other hand, copper assists with iron absorption to boost red blood cell production while keeping your bones strong, while manganese boosts bone health by preventing bone loss caused by osteoporosis; it also promotes wound healing.
2. It’s rich in fiber
Not only is rambutan delicious, but it’s also incredibly high in fiber. Fiber helps keep you feeling full and maintains bowel regularity, both factors essential to losing weight.
Research has found that individuals who consume foods rich in fiber tend to have a lower BMI. If you’re trying to slim down, adding more fiber-rich foods like rambutan to your diet can help you lose weight faster. It will fill you up without being overly filling.
The body digests fiber slowly, so even if you’re not eating a lot of calories throughout the day, it still takes time for your body to process everything. This keeps you feeling fuller longer—and will prevent overeating later on. When paired with exercise, increasing your fiber intake can help you burn fat more quickly.
Fact: Rambutan contains around 1.3 to 2 grams of total fiber per 3.5 ounces (100 grams)
3. It’s rich in vitamin C
A 100-gram serving of rambutan provides 140% of your daily vitamin C recommended value. Boosting your vitamin C intake is an important step in preventing colds and flu.
Vitamin C also offers strong antioxidant properties that help fight against cell damage, thus protecting against heart disease, cancer, and a weak immune system. Research shows that people who eat more foods high in vitamin C have a lower risk for colorectal, lung, breast, stomach, mouth/throat, and cervical cancers than those who don’t. Vitamin C may even play a role in protecting against Parkinson’s disease.
In addition, vitamin C has been shown to boost iron absorption when consumed with plant-based iron sources like spinach or swiss chard.
Fun Fact: 50% of your daily vitamin C need can be met by eating 5 to 6 rambutan fruits a day.
4. High levels of antioxidants protect the skin from UV damage
Antioxidants are essential for protecting your skin from UV damage. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress on your skin’s DNA, which increases your risk for melanoma and other skin cancers. Fortunately, antioxidants can stop free radicals in their tracks. One study has shown that eating rambutan three times a week reduces these free radicals, lowering your risk for melanoma by 50 percent.
It also protects against sunburns, making it ideal for summertime consumption.
5. It’s rich in folate
Folate is a B vitamin that aids in cell growth and formation. It’s also crucial for pregnant women because it prevents birth defects like neural tube defects (birth defects of the brain and spinal cord).
If you’re not quite ready to be a parent yet, or if you just don’t have any kids, consider eating more foods rich in folate like rambutan to reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and colorectal cancer. This is because folate can also lower blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with heart disease and stroke. A study found that people with high homocysteine were two-and-a-half times more likely to develop coronary artery disease than those with low levels.
6. Can prevent heart disease
Heart disease is a major killer in America, claiming over 600,000 lives every year. Luckily, plenty of fruits and vegetables offer significant protection against heart disease, especially fruit like rambutan. Just one serving per day can help lower blood pressure by 13 percent and cholesterol by 26 percent. Furthermore, it can prevent clogged arteries from forming, leading to a healthy heart.
Rambutan is also high in polyphenols, which lower blood pressure: Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that help reduce high blood pressure and protect against cardiovascular disease. A diet rich in polyphenols can significantly lower your risk of heart attack or stroke.
7. May help fight diabetes
Many have noted that rambutans can help lower blood sugar, making them beneficial to your diabetes treatment plan. Research also shows that this fruit can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
This is because rambutans have a low glycemic index, meaning they won’t cause your blood sugar to spike. Consuming foods with a low GI may reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
The antioxidants in rambutan also combat oxidative stress, which is linked to both heart disease and diabetes. The fiber found in rambutan helps keep your blood sugars steady while keeping you full longer, so you don’t overindulge later on. This will lower your calorie intake and lower your insulin levels, thus improving insulin resistance, a major problem in type 2 diabetes.
It is been reported by Cell and animal studies that peel extracts of rambutan fruit may increase insulin sensitivity and reduce the level of fasting blood sugar and resistance to insulin as well.
8. Combats depression
According to studies, vitamin C helps combat depression by stabilizing serotonin and dopamine levels. Serotonin is a chemical responsible for feelings of happiness, while dopamine is responsible for feelings of contentment. And since rambutans are high in both vitamin C and potassium (also linked to greater serotonin production), it’s no wonder they’re great for staving off depression.
In one study, people who took 2 grams of vitamin C twice daily reported higher levels of contentment after just four weeks. Another study found that eating foods rich in vitamin C resulted in higher serotonin levels. So consuming rambutans regularly can help meet your requirements.
In addition, the scent of rambutan can help elevate your mood. Its aroma has been shown to relieve stress and reduce depression. The fruit’s scent acts as a natural antidepressant by giving off an odor that mimics human pheromones—chemicals found in our body that trigger emotions. So if you’re feeling down, pick up a rambutan and give it a smell—you’ll feel calmer in no time!
9. Lower Cancer Risk
Free radicals are the waste products of the body and they need to be fought off. Antioxidants consumed help fight these free radicals and protect cells against damage. Rambutans are rich in Vitamin C and also in potent antioxidants that reduce the chances of developing cancer in many individuals. Read More.
10. Immune System Health
This rich vitamin C-packed fruit can help boost your immune system. Just one ripe rambutan provides a whopping 52 percent of your daily recommended intake.
Aside from being a potent antioxidant, vitamin C is essential for healing wounds and fighting off infections. In fact, many people with scurvy—caused by severe vitamin C deficiency—develop bleeding gums or other signs of poor wound healing.
Moreover, rambutans are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant and a compound that gives rambutans their bright red color. Lycopene has been shown to have protective effects against cancer and heart disease.
They’re also rich in other antioxidants that help to shield us from pollutants and harmful chemicals around us. These compounds also help to keep our skin healthy and young-looking.
11. Promotes strong bones and healthy joints
The high levels of manganese present in rambutans help regulate bone density, making it an excellent choice for those at risk for osteoporosis or other bone-weakening diseases. One cup of fresh rambutans provides 87 percent of your daily recommended intake (DRI) for manganese.
It’s also rich in vitamin C: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and prevent premature aging and degenerative diseases like cancer. Vitamin C is also important for tissue repair and strengthening blood vessels.
Vitamin C also promotes collagen production, which helps promote health and strong joints. The phytochemicals in rambutans can also help prevent further bone loss.
12. It’s rich in vitamin B5(pantothenic acid)
Vitamin B5 is an essential nutrient for our body. It helps our body convert food into energy. The only source of B5 consumption is food since it cannot be created or produced by the body itself. Eating food like rambutans that are rich in B5 can help manage this conversion procedure.
13. For medication purposes
- The unripe fruit of rambutan is used as a cure for diarrhea or dysentery as it acts as a febrifuge or vermifuge and is a stomachic, astringent.
- Headaches can be alleviated by poulticing the leaves of the rambutan on the temples.
- Interestingly, the dried rind of this fruit is sold in drugstores of Malaya and is further used in local medicine.
- A remedy for thrush also comes from the same tree. The astringent bark decoction is a curing remedy attained from roots and used as a febrifuge. Read More.
14. It’s loaded with vitamins
Along with folate, vitamins C and E, and other antioxidants, rambutan contains large amounts of vitamin B1 (thiamine), also known as thiamin. It’s a key component in energy metabolism, supporting various body functions, including nervous system integrity and carbohydrate metabolism.
Thiamin deficiency is very rare in healthy adults but can occur if you have an eating disorder or don’t eat enough thiamin food. Thiamin deficiency can lead to neurological problems like beriberi, which causes muscle weakness and heart failure.
Why not eat the covering and the seed?
In some cultures, people often consume seeds by roasting them. Roasting reduces the effects of toxicity. But there is no reliable procedure available for roasting seeds in a way to get rid of the toxic nature.
Seeds contain compounds that are toxic and are not identified or classified as edible by anyone (food researcher). There are traces of alkaloids in the seed of rambutan fruit, and its testa is rich in saponin and tannin, both of which are toxic. The fruit rind also contains toxic tannin and saponin.
Fact Check: The cures, remedies, and treatments are all linked to the compound extracts of rambutan fruit. These extracts and compounds are often the ones present in the peel and seed, along with other toxicity. These are the parts that are inedible and most people do not eat.
Moreover, studies that show its effectiveness in dealing with health conditions are conducted on animals. So a better suggestion would be to conduct research on humans and then generalize the results based on a factual basis. Until then, it’s good to be careful with rambutan seeds and peel.
Most people probably don’t know what a rambutan is, much less that it has some incredible health benefits. Or, if you’ve already heard of rambutan fruit and even tasted it before but don’t know what it can do to your health, rambutan fruit contains essential vitamins and minerals that can benefit your body in several ways.
It can boost your immune system, promote heart health, fight diabetes, combat depression, lowers the risk of developing cancer, and maintain strong bones among other benefits.
Rambutan can be eaten fresh out of hand or be made into a jam, smoothie, or any sorbet or ice cream.
However, the peel and seed are toxic and should be avoided.
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