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The rambutan fruit resembles a lychee, only it has spikes coming out of its shell instead of a plain leathery texture and has a slightly tangier flavor. This fruit is found in most tropical and subtropical countries throughout Asia, Africa, Oceania, and South America.
Rambutans best flourish in humid weather conditions with good soil drainage, with some of the best harvests coming from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
The fruit is almost as big as a chicken egg and is yellowish green to dark red in color, with spikes varying from yellow to black. The rambutan grows from a mid-sized evergreen tree and is in the same family as the lychee and longgan.
Like the other two fruits, it grows in clusters and is harvested during the summer. Cracking and peeling the skin open will reveal white flesh enveloping a seed covered in a fibrous membrane.
There are several varieties of rambutan with varying levels of sweetness, crispness, and tartness. They are also best consumed within three days after harvest. Unripe rambutan should not be eaten as they contain traces of toxin.
The seeds are bitter and can affect one’s mood stability when eaten. The seeds contain saponins which in great quantities can lead to toxicity that affects digestion.
Even with these precautions, you should not be turned off from this exotic but delicious fruit. It has many great benefits, from the root of the plant to the fruit itself.
In ancient Java, the bark was used to treat oral infections and cold sores. Malaysians use rambutan root as alternative medicine and as a first aid treatment to high fever. The leaves are used as a poultice to treat headaches.
Read on to find out why the rambutan is a super fruit.
Good for People Under Strict Diet
People trying to lose weight and regulate their lipid profile need to watch their macronutrient intake. Macronutrients are fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Although they needed to be taken in larger quantities, not having the proper balance of macronutrient intake can lead to a number of lifestyle diseases.
The rambutan is a low-fat and low-calorie fruit which can be eaten any day. Most of its calories come from carbohydrates. It has more sugar than dietary fiber but the sugar in rambutan is naturally present in fruits.
Natural fructose, or fruit sugar, is preferred over other processed sugars. It is the sweetest type of sugar but surprisingly has the least impact on blood sugar levels.
Rambutan contains some dietary fiber which can aid in digestion. It has very little sodium, making it safe for hypertensive people to eat greater quantities. There is almost little to no fat at all.
A hundred grams of rambutan can give you anywhere from 75 to 80 calories. If you are on a strict diet of less than 2000 calories a day, it would be quite hard to go overboard with just rambutan alone.
Packed with Vitamin C
Half of your Vitamin C needs can be supplemented just by eating a hundred grams of rambutan flesh. Vitamin C is one of nature’s best antioxidants, but unfortunately cannot be produced by our bodies. We rely on food and supplements to get our daily dose of Vitamin C.
A deficiency in Vitamin C leads to inhibited collagen production, a weak immune system, low production of red and white blood cells, and conditions such as scurvy and iron deficiency anemia.
Some symptoms common in Vitamin C-deficient people are easy bruising, red hair follicles, poor sleep cycle, wounds that do not heal right away, weak bones and low energy, and unexplained weight gain.
As an antioxidant, it prevents the body from aging prematurely and from succumbing easily to disease and illnesses. Damages that are caused by aging, the environment, and diseases may be slowed down, reversed, or controlled by Vitamin C.
Good Source of Copper
Trace minerals are elements needed by the body and contribute to overall wellbeing. They are called trace minerals because the body only needs small amounts to function well.
Some of the important bodily functions that are regulated with the help of these elements are the production and regulation of hormones, muscle movement, oxygen delivery to the different parts of the body, metabolism, nerve function, and thyroid function.
The trace minerals found in rambutan are calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc. Of all these trace minerals, rambutan is an especially good source of copper. But what does copper do for you?
Copper is normally found in our body’s tissues and is essential for tissue production.
Red blood cells, muscles, and nerves all benefit from a balanced copper content in the tissues. The brain, heart, liver, kidneys, and skeletal muscles are the ones with the highest copper in its tissues.
Copper helps the body produce more collagen to repair itself to keep it healthy and young, and helps keep teeth, bones, skin, and hair healthy.
Although there is no need for copper supplements, too little or too much of copper can have adverse effects on the nervous system because it is one of the minerals that maintains homeostasis in the brain.
Homeostasis refers to the balance of the “environment”, allowing chemical and physical processes to occur and sustain life. Too much copper can cause an oxidative stress which damages the cells in the nervous system.
That is because copper acts like a scalable switch for neurons and nerves. When there is too much, it can “turn off” the neurons.
Rambutan fruit is often given to people with fever because it can bring down body temperature. The same goes for its leaves and bark when boiled.
While the fruit itself may not contain flavonoids, the skin or peel of the fruit is packed with it. Flavonoids are substances that protect the chlorophyll of the plant so that it can continue to create food for itself.
Flavonoids are what gives fruits and vegetables their color. The bright red peel of the rambutan can also be used to make dye.
Flavonoids are antioxidants and help the heart to remain strong. The peel is acidic in taste. The tea made from fresh or dried rambutan peel has a milder taste.
Different parts of the rambutan plant is either boiled or beaten to a pulp to apply to wounds or infections.
The peel of the fruit itself exhibited the potential to fight against five pathogenic bacteria including the Staphylococcus epidermidis which lives in human skin. This strain of bacteria can compromise wounds especially in post-surgery and immune-compromised patients.
Traditional Malay medicine acknowledges the effectivity of the rambutan fruit against intestinal parasites and that it lessens the inflammatory symptoms of many gastrointestinal conditions. The fruit is given to people with dyspepsia, diarrhea, flatulence, and indigestion.
A hundred grams of rambutan fruit contain the following nutrients:
- 75 kcal of energy
- 16.02 grams of carbohydrates
- 0.46 grams of protein
- 1 grams of fat
- 3 mg of sodium
- 0.24 grams of dietary fiber
- 0.02 mg of thiamin
- 0.06 mg of riboflavin
- 0.78 mg of niacin
- 39.5 mg of Vitamin C
- 7.9 mg of calcium
- 16.5 mg of phosphorus
- 0.18 mg of copper
- 0.48 mg of iron
- 17.4 mg of magnesium
- 0.19 mg of manganese
- 179.7 mg of potassium
- 0.21 mg of zinc
Including Rambutan in Your Diet
Rambutan is always best eaten fresh, right after it has been cut from the tree in clusters. You can have rambutan in other ways as well.
- Can be preserved jam or pickles.
- It can be used to flavor ice cream and sherbet.
- The seeds may be roasted to make a snack.
- Dried rambutan fruit and peel can be used to make tea.
- Infuse water, juices, and other beverages with rambutan.
- Rambutan is added to jelly desserts for flavor and texture.
- The flesh can be added to smoothies, yogurt, and cereal for a healthy snack or meal.
- Dried rambutan can be eaten alone or added to other snacks for nibbling.
The rambutan plant can serve many purposes in helping people becoming healthier versions of themselves. Whether you are young or old, be open to the traditional and often delicious uses of the rambutan fruit, peel, bark, leaves, and roots in aiding your health.
This plant is packed with benefits, and it has presented powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties in many studies.
The fruit itself is not only a source of healthy nutrients for your body but it is so tasty that the first taste can leave you craving for more.
It will not be hard to feed rambutan to picky eaters like kids because of its refreshingly tart taste, with a texture unique only to fruits belonging to the Sapindaceae family.
Since it is an exotic fruit that only ripens in the summer and limited to the tropics, try them when you travel to Southeast Asia and other tropical and subtropical countries.