The debate about whether longan or lychee fruit tastes better is ongoing. It comes down to a matter of personal taste. But there’s another angle to add to the dispute over these fruits: Is one healthier than the other? Read on to find out.
The nutritional profiles of longan and lychee are similar. Both fruits are low in calories and carbs and have zero fat. One ounce of fresh longan has just 17 calories and 4 grams of carbs. One ounce of fresh lychee has 18 calories and 5 grams of carbs.
Both dried longan and dried lychee are higher in calories and carbs than their fresh counterparts. One ounce of dried longan has 80 calories and 21 carbs. One ounce of dried lychee has 78 calories and 20 carbs.
Both longan and lychee are a good source of vitamin C. An ounce of fresh longan provides almost 40 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, while an ounce of fresh lychee provides 33 percent. Vitamin C is important for healthy bones, blood vessels, and skin.
Fresh longan or lychee aren’t high in most other essential vitamins and minerals. But lychee has a small amount of minerals, including:
Fresh lychee also provides some vitamins like niacin, vitamin B-6, and folate. Niacin may increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the body. Vitamin B-6 supports a healthy nervous system and helps your body metabolize carbs, proteins, and fats.
Lychee also contains folate. It’s important for pregnant women and women of childbearing age to get enough folate to prevent neural tube defects. However, excessive fruit intake can increase blood sugar, so people with gestational diabetes need to eat these fruits in moderation.
May help you lose weight
Lychee may help you lose body fat. According to a 2009 study, polyphenol-rich lychee extract significantly reduces body weight, abdominal circumference, and visceral fat compared to a placebo. Visceral fat is fat around your abdomen. It increases your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
There are no scientific studies on longan fruit and obesity. But its low calorie, fat, and carb counts make it a great substitution for sugar-laden processed foods in your diet that may lead to weight gain.
There’s a catch, though. Lychee and longan should be enjoyed in moderation. They’re small fruits, and if you’re not careful, it’s easy to eat a lot in one sitting and jack up your intake of carbs and sugar.
Good source of fiber
Both fresh and dried lychee and longan have fiber. Fiber helps bulk stools and normalize bowel movements. It also improves overall bowel health. It may also lower cholesterol, improve gut flora, and help control blood sugar in people with diabetes.
High in antioxidants
Longan and lychee are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants help battle free radicals in your body that damage cells and lead to disease. Research shows getting your antioxidants from fresh fruits and vegetables — not supplements — has the most health benefits.
Lychee are high in a type of antioxidant called polyphenols. These substances are used in traditional Chinese medicine to protect and strengthen the liver and pancreas.
A 2017 study on mice looked at lychee and its effects on the liver. The study found that the polyphonic compounds in lychee extract increased cell recovery in damaged liver cells of mice and treated fatty liver and liver scarring better than milk thistle (silymarin). Milk thistle is a first-line antioxidant treatment for hepatitis symptoms.
There are many health claims for longan and lychee. Most are anecdotal and not backed by scientific studies. Anecdotal uses of longan fruit as a natural remedy include:
- a general tonic to increase energy and boost the immune system
- reducing stress
- decreasing fatigue
- boosting memory
- improving memory
- snake bites as an anti-venom
Anecdotal uses of lychee as a natural remedy include:
- lowering blood pressure
- improving the immune system
- reducing blood sugar
- improving blood circulation
- treating asthma
There are many claims about the health benefits of longan and lychee, especially in regions of the world that’ve consumed these fruits for generations. However, most of these claims lack scientific evidence to confirm or deny these benefits.
While the fruits are similar in size and nutritional values, lychee comes out slightly ahead for having more essential minerals. Both longan and lychee are a good source of antioxidants, which may help prevent disease.
Eaten in moderation, longan and lychee can be part of a healthy eating plan. People with diabetes can enjoy them in moderation if they consider the sugar and carb contents and check blood sugar levels when eating new fruits.