Rambutan is a tropical fruit that is native to Malaysia and tropical Southeast Asia. It is related to the lychee and is very similar in colour and taste. Unlike the lychee that has a firm, leathery and rough exterior skin, the skin of the rambutan has soft spines which give it a hairy appearance. In fact, this is the origin of its name as the Malay word for hair is “rambut”. The rambutan is also larger than the lychee and each fruit in a cluster is almost the size of a golf ball.
The fruit may seem strange and a little intimidating but the white fleshy fruit within the skin is sweet like the lychee with a hint of tartness that is similar to grapes. The seed at the centre of the fruit is also edible and it is generally roasted and consumed as a snack. There are several rambutan varieties but almost all cultivars produce red oval fruit while a few produce bright yellow fruit.
Health Benefits of Rambutan Boost Energy Levels:
Rambutans are a good source of energy as 100 grams of canned rambutans will provide 82 calories. Most of this energy comes from carbohydrates but this fruit also provides small amounts of protein and fat. Rambutans contain healthy natural sugars
such as sucrose, fructose and glucose which are easily absorbed by the body for an instant energy boost. This fruit also has high water content, which makes it an ideal snack for athletes and sportspersons.Protect Cells from free Radical Damage:
The rambutan fruit contains vitamin C and other antioxidants that protect our cells from free radical damage. Free radicals are formed through physiological processes in the human body. These free radicals lack an electron in their outer shell and so they “steal” electrons from cellular structures; this in turn, causes tissue and even DNA damage
. Antioxidants provide the scavenging free radicals with the electrons they require and this is how antioxidants prevent free radicals from destroying body tissue. In addition to the antioxidants within the fruit, the skin of the fruit also has several types of antioxidants and they can be boiled and the water consumed to enjoy these rambutan health benefits. Control Weight Gain:
Rambutans have very high water content since the fruit comprises over 82% fluids. They are low in calories but are considered a good source of dietary fiber
. All these characteristics make the rambutan a good snack for people who are overweight or obese. Since rambutans are sweet they can also help to satisfy your sweet tooth without drastically adding to your calorie intake. Include rambutans as part of a mixed fruit platter to increase your nutritional intake while controlling your calorie intake. Prevent Anemia:
Rambutans contain modest amounts of iron and copper, which are essential for the production of red blood cells. The human body requires iron for the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to various parts of the body while copper is essential for the absorption, and utilization of iron as well as the formation of red blood cells. Rambutans also contain Vitamin C, which increases the absorption of iron by the body, and so you should include this fruit in your diet plan to prevent anemia
and other hematological disorders.Lower LDL (bad) Cholesterol Levels:
Rambutan seeds are rich in several fats including oleic acid, which constitutes over 40 per cent of all the fats in these seeds. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fat and it is the same fatty acid that is found in olive oil. Consuming oleic acid and other monounsaturated fats
has been associated with decreased levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Some research also suggests that it may increase HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or good cholesterol levels but this is still being debated. Relief from Diarrhea:
Rambutans are easy to digest and are often included in a diet plan for patients with diarrhea
. A prolonged bout of diarrhea results in an excessive loss of fluid, which causes dehydration. Dehydration is particularly dangerous in children as it puts an enormous strain on the kidneys and it can even result in death. Since rambutans have high water content, consuming a large serving of this fruit will help to prevent dehydration. Rambutan leaves can also be used as a poultice to treat headaches. Promote Good Bone Health:
Rambutans are a good source of manganese
as 100 grams of this fruit provides sixteen per cent of an individual’s daily requirement for this trace metal. Manganese is an important nutrient as it helps in the formation and maintenance of bones and connective tissue. It is also essential for several metabolic processes related to bone and for blood clotting factors. Since manganese also plays a role in the absorption of calcium, consuming manganese-rich foods such as rambutans help to increase bone mass and strength.
Rambutans are best consumed fresh but they can also be used in jellies, salads, jams and desserts. Rambutans have a sweet but mild taste and so they can be combined with other exotic or tropical fruits when making mixed fruit juices or frappes. Here is a simple recipe for a rambutan mint frappe that is particularly refreshing on a hot summer day.
Rambutan Mint Frappe Ingredients:
- 15 rambutans
- 1 cup light coconut cream
- 1˝ cups of ice cubes
- 10 to 15 fresh mint leaves
- 2 sprigs of mint (optional)
- Peel and deseed the rambutans and keep them aside.
- Blend the rambutans, coconut cream, and mint leaves together.
- Add the ice cubes and blend for a minute until the frappe is smooth and creamy.
- Pour the chilled frappe into 2 tall glasses and decorate them with the sprigs of mint.