Rambutan (scientific name – Nephelium lappaceum), also known as the hairy lychee, is a tropical fruit that belongs to the family Sapindaceae.
In Vietnam, it is known as ”hairy cherry.”
Native to Malaysia and Indonesia, the fruit is now commonly grown throughout Thailand, India, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Australia, and Mexico.
The fruit may be greenish-yellow, crimson or orange, oval-shaped and typically one to 2 inches long. Its size is somewhat similar to that of a litchi and larger than a longan.
The rambutan tree on which the fruit grows reaches 10 to 20 feet in height and it can bear fruit two times per year.
The earliest record of rambutan trees shows that the trees were cultivated by the Malayan jungle tribes (Orang Asli) around their temporary settlements.
Covered in red hair-like spines, the fruit could be considered a wilder version of the lychee. However, they both belong to the Sapindaceae family.
Also, both have a white flesh.
The name of rambutan fruit is derived from the Malay word meaning “hairy.”
June to August and again in December/January are the main periods.
1 cup (150g) of raw rambutan contains:
- 4.2g Fiber – 11% daily value;
- 1.5g Protein – 3% DV;
- 105mg Vitamin C – 117% DV;
- 0.7 mg Vitamin E – 5% DV;
- 0.0mg Thiamin – 2% DV;
- 0.1mg Riboflavin – 8% DV;
- 1.2mg Niacin – 8% DV;
- 0.0mg Vitamin B6 – 2% DV;
- 12mcg Folate – 3% DV;
- 1.5mg Pantothenic Acid – 31% DV;
- 12mg Calcium – 1% DV;
- 0.2mg Iron – 2% DV;
- 15mg Magnesium – 4% DV;
- 13.5mg Phosphorus –2% DV;
- 210mg Potassium – 4% DV;
- 3mg Sodium – 1% DV;
- 0.9mg Zinc – 8% DV;
- 0.8mcg Selenium – 1% DV.
What Does Rambutan Taste Like
It has a sweet creamy rich flowery taste and is very refreshing.
How To Eat
The fruit is typically eaten raw, occasionally freshly picked from the tree.
To eat it, pierce the skin with a thumbnail and pull the skin apart. Pop the whole fruit in the mouth and eat around the seed.
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Type 2 diabetes occurs when blood sugar is elevated over a long period of time. It typically starts with insulin resistance, a disorder in which the liver, muscle, and fat cells do not use insulin properly.
According to a study done at the Yunnan Institute of Food Safety, Kunming University of Science and Technology, China and issued in the National Institutes of Health, fasting blood glucose was lowered in type 2 diabetic mice which were fed the peel of the rambutan fruit.
This is good news for over 30 million people in the United States who live with diabetes mellitus. Also, there are around 1.5 million new cases of diabetes diagnosed every year.
Also, every year, type 2 diabetes costs the United States approximately $350 billion to treat, and this number is recognized to reach about $600 billion in the next 5 years.
1 cup of raw rambutans has 0.9 milligrams of zinc, an essential mineral found in every tissue of the human body.
Zinc is essential for protein production, growth, DNA synthesis, cell division, wound healing, immune function, skin renewal, teeth and bone formation, proper nervous system function, brain activity, and production of hormones including insulin, female and male sex hormones, and stress hormones.
This essential trace mineral also has an essential role in male prostate health due to the fact that prostate cells need zinc to work healthfully.
Additionally, zinc helps in reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines (a broad and loose category of small proteins) which aggravate the body when it is suffering from colds and infections.
Some of the biochemical responsibilities linked with this mineral include the following:
- apoptosis – it is programmed cellular death;
- enzyme function;
- cell signaling – it is a mechanism that is designed to defend the human body from both perceived and real threats;
- nucleic acid metabolism – this mechanism is needed for a series of physiological processes and coding of DNA.
Zinc deficiency is linked with:
- upper respiratory tract infection;
- frequent diarrhea;
- impaired immune function;
- hypogonadism (a condition in which the human body doesn’t produce sufficient testosterone);
- poor appetite;
- stunted growth.
Zinc deficiency can result from:
- increased need for zinc (e.g. pregnant women);
- increased zinc excretion;
- inadequate zinc absorption;
- low dietary intake of zinc.
According to an October 2015 study, rambutan fruit peel extract has a potent antioxidant activity
. Antioxidants protect vital cellular components by neutralizing the negative effects of free radicals.
Air pollution and sunlight can create free radicals in the eyes, where they damage corneal or retinal cells. This, in time, can lead to blindness and cataracts (a dense, cloudy area which forms in the lens of the eye).
In skin cells, free radicals damage cell DNA, significantly accelerating wrinkle formation as well as raising the risk of skin cancer.
Free radicals in the blood vessels (generally caused by smoking tobacco, consumption of deep-fried foods, or air pollution) change the structure of the LDL cholesterol, which becomes more liable to gum up the arteries. This can lead to cardiovascular problems.
1 cup of raw rambutans has 105 milligrams of vitamin C, that is more than the RDA of 75 milligrams per day for women and 90 milligrams a day for men.
Since the body doesn’t have the capacity to generate vitamin C, this vitamin is one of the most important nutrients needed by your body to carry out numerous functions.
For instance, vitamin C is helpful to the human body as it plays an essential role in enhancing the immune system’s capacity to fend off viruses. Moreover, one 2013 review done by the Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Finland established that taking at least 200 milligrams of vitamin C per day reduced the duration of a cold by about 8 percent.
Additionally, this vitamin is important for cardiovascular health, joints and bones, as well as hair and skin health, as it is an essential cofactor in the synthesis of collagen, the main component of connective tissue.
Also, vitamin C reduces inflammatory conditions associated with seasonal allergy (sometimes called “hay fever”) since it plays a vital role as an antihistamine. Vitamin C is also a natural antioxidant, that means it helps protect the body against damage from free radicals.
Obesity is a medical condition which occurs when an individual carries excess body fat or weight which might affect their health. Accounting for about 47% of the total cost of chronic diseases in the United States, obesity as a risk factor is the primary contributor to the burden of chronic diseases.
The societal cost of obesity in the United States is $1.72 trillion per year, or 9.3% of GDP, according to a 2018 report.
Rambutan fruit optimizes nutrient digestion and regulates the digestive process so fewer carbs are converted into fat. This can lead to a healthy weight loss.
1 cup of raw rambutans has 0.7 milligrams of vitamin E, a collective term used for a group of related compounds which include 4 tocotrienols and 4 tocopherols.
Vitamin E is responsible for maintaining healthy skin and eyes and for a healthy functioning of the immune system.
As an antioxidant, this vitamin helps prevent heart disease, cancer, cataracts, stroke (the no. 5 cause of death in the United States), and some of the signs of aging.
A deficiency in vitamin E can lead to:
- muscle weakness;
- difficulty walking;
- inability to control bodily movements;
- poor transmission of nerve impulses;
- loss of muscle mass;
- weakened immune system.
Mango-Rambutan Smoothie Recipe
You can use pitted and peeled rambutans in fruit salads and smoothies. Below is a smoothie recipe:
- 1 piece ripe mango, peeled, and chopped;
- 1/2 cup rambutans;
- 2 cups of homemade almond milk;
- 1 cup ice, crushed.
Put all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. Enjoy!
Side Effects Of Rambutan Fruit
But, inside the fruity flesh there is a large seed which is slightly toxic to the human body in its raw state, therefore, do not eat it.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Pregnant and breastfeeding women can safely eat the fruit.
Also, the sweet taste of rambutan fruit can help relieve dizziness and nausea which most pregnant women experience. However, an over-ripened rambutan fruit should be avoided since it has traces of alcohol.