[caption id="attachment_4787" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Lychee"][/caption]
Lychee is a tropical and subtropical fruit tree native to China an now cultivated in various parts of the world. Lychee fruit is botanically called as Litchi chinensis and commonly called as leechi, litchi, laichi, lichu or lizhi. It’s a fresh delicate fruit whitish pulp with an excellent perfume flavor usually lost during canning hence the fruit is mostly eaten fresh.
Lychee fruit is the sole member of the genus Litchi in the soapberry family, Sapindaceae. Native to China, the Philippines and India, the lychee fruit are a delicious fruit which will add flavor to fruit salads. They are eaten fresh or dried but canned ones have become very popular. They don’t have a remarkably long shelf life and are usually easily damaged during transport and handling. Hence the lychees are considered a luxury fruit. Sun or fire dried lychees are known as lychee-nuts and taste a bit like a raisin.
Lychee is cultivated in China and in a narrow belt through Thailand, northern Vietnam and northern India particularly Bihar which accounts for about 75% of total production. South Africa and the United States (Hawaii and Florida) also have commercial lychee production. According to records in China going back as far as 2000 BC, Lychee has a history of cultivation which began in the area of southern China, Malaysia and northern Vietnam. Wild trees still grow in parts of southern China and on Hainan Island. There are many stories of the use of this fruit as a delicacy in the Chinese Imperial Court. It was first described and introduced to the west in 1782.
The Lychee was first described in the West by Pierre Sonnerat (1748–1814) on a return from his travel to China and Southeast Asia. It was then introduced to the Réunion Island in 1764 by Joseph-François Charpentier de Cossigny de Palma. It was later introduced to Madagascar which has become a major producer. They require a warm subtropical to tropical climate that is cool but also frost-free or with only very slight winter frosts not below -4°C, and with high summer heat, rainfall, and humidity. Growth is best on well-drained, slightly acidic soils rich in organic matter. A wide range of cultivars is available, with early and late maturing forms suited to warmer and cooler climates respectively. They are also grown as an ornamental tree as well as for their fruit.
It is an evergreen tree, reaching to 10–20 m tall, bearing fleshy fruits that are up to 5 cm (2.0 in) long and 4 cm (1.6 in) wide. The outside of the fruit is covered by a pink-red, roughly-textured rind that is inedible but easily removed to expose a layer of sweet, translucent white flesh. Lychees are eaten in many different dessert dishes, and are especially popular in China, throughout South-East Asia, along with South Asia. This fruit is primarily found in the countries namely: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Southern Africa, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Lychees can be eaten on their own, sprinkled with lemon or lime juice, or combined with berries and other fruit in a salad. Lychees are often stuffed with low-fat cream cheese, topped with crushed nuts, and served as an appetizer in Hawaii. Used in cooking, the natural sweetness, aromatic flavor of the fruit complements entrees made with ham, chicken, fish, or beef. Aside from this antioxidant fruit being excellent to be eaten as it is, and being naturally added in chicken salads, desserts and fruit salads, lychees are also being used in making ice cream, syrups and delicious jams with lychee being the main element. Lychee Martini is a famous drink.
Lychee fruit has enormous health benefits as it contains different types of nutrition. It is a rich source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C degrees to 71.5 mg per 100 grams of pulp and is the natural antioxidants that are very useful for attacks against free radicals, causes early old process, and various cancer diseases. Lychees are a good source of riboflavin, potassium, copper and also contain iron, zinc, selenium and other minerals. Lychees treat coughs and can be trusted to have any effect cure gastralgia, tumor, and gland swell.
Fat content in the lychee fruit is very low and is very good to be consumed by all age groups, including those who are on diet to maintain or lose weight. Therefore, there is no limit how many lychee that should be consumed each day. Lychees are low in saturated fat and sodium and are cholesterol free. Most of the energy in a lychee is in the form of carbohydrate (sugar). Consume fresh lychee fruit every day to refine the skin. The fruit is also believed to enrich the blood and improve physical strength.
The nutritional values per 100 g of the edible parts of Lychees are:
Energy: 276 kJ (66 kcal)
Carbohydrates: 16.5 g
Dietary fiber: 1.3 g
Fat: 0.4 g
Protein: 0.8 g
Vitamin C: 72 MG
Calcium: 5 mg
Magnesium: 10 mg
Phosphorus: 31 mg