The rambutan (/raem’bu:tan/,taxonomic name: Nephelium lappaceum) is a medium-size tropical tree in the family Sapindaceae. The name also refers to the edible fruit produced by this tree. The rambutan is native to Malay archipelago, and other regions of tropical Southeast Asia. It is closely related to several other edible tropical fruits including the lychee, longan, pulasan and mamoncillo.
It is an evergreen tree growing to a height of 12-20 m. The leaves are alternate, 10-30 cm long, pinnate, with tree to 11 leaflets, each leaflet 5-15 cm wide and 3- 10 cm broad, with an entire margin. The flowers are small, 2.5-5 mm, apetalous, discoidal, and borne in erect terminal panicles 15-30 cm wide. Rambutan trees can be male (producing only staminate flowers and hence, produce no fruit), female (producing flowers that are only functionally female), or hermaphroditic (producing flowers that are female with a small percentage of male flowers).
The fruit is a round to oval single-seeded drupe, 3-6 cm (rarely to 8 cm) long and 3-4 cm broad, borne in a loose pendant cluster of 10-20 together. The leathery skin is reddish (rarely orange or yellow), and covered with fleshy pliable spines, hence the name, which means ‘hairs’. The spines (also known as spinterns) contribute to the transpiration of the fruit, which can affect the fruit’s quality.
Main Health Benefits of Rambutan
. Rich in Nutrients and Antioxidants
Rambutan fruit is rich in many vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds. Its flesh provides around 1.3-2 grams of total fiber per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) – similar to what you would find in the same quantity of apples, oranges or pears. It’s also rich in vitamin C, a nutrient that helps your body absorb dietary iron more easily. This vitamin also acts as an antioxidant, protecting your body’s cells against damage. Eating 5-6 rambutan fruit will meet 50% of your daily vitamin C needs.
Rambutan also contains a good amount of copper, which plays a role in the proper growth and maintenance of various cells, including those of your bones, brain and heart. It offers smaller amounts of manganese, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc as well. Eating 3.5 ounces (100 grams) – or about four fruit – will meet 20% of your daily copper needs and 26% of the daily recommended amount of the other nutriets.
The rambutan peel and seed are thought to be rich sources of nutrient, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. Though some people eat them, neither are currently considered edible.
Promotes Healthy Digestion
In fact, they appear to contain certain compounds that may be toxic to humans. Roasting the seeds may reduce these effects, and individuals from some cultures seem to consume them this way. However, reliable information on the proper roasting procedure is currently unavailable. Until more is known, it may be safest to avoid eating the seeds altogether.
Rambutan may contribute to a healthy digestion due to its fiber content. About half of the fiber in its flesh is insoluble, which means that it passes through your gut undigested. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and helps speed up intestinal transit, thus reducing your likelihood of constipation.
The other half of the fiber is soluble. Soluble fiber provides for your beneficial gut bacteria. In turn, these friendly bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids, such as acetate, propionate and butyrate, which feed the cells of your gut.
These short-chain fatty acids can also reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of gut disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Aid Weight Loss
Rambutan may prevent weight gain and promote weight loss over time. At around 75 calories and 1.3-2 grams of fiber per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). It’s relatively low in calories for the amount of fiber it provides.
This can help keep your fuller for longer, which may reduce your likelihood of overeating and promote weight loss over time.
What’s more, the soluble fiber in rambutan can dissolve in water and form a gel-like substance in your gut that helps
slow down digestion and the absorption of nutrients. It can also lead to reduced appetite and greater feelings of fullness.
Moreover, rambutan contains a good amount of water and can help keep you hydrated, which may further prevent overeating and aid weight loss.
Help Fight Infection
Rambutan fruit may contribute to a stronger immune system in several ways. For starter’s it’s rich in vitamin C , which may encourage the production of the white blood cells your body needs to fight infection. Getting too little vitamin C in your diet can weaken your immune system, leaving you more prone to infections.
What’s more, rambutan peel has been used for centuries to fight off infections. Test-tube studies show that it contains compounds that protect your body against viruses, and bacteria infection
Other Potential Benefits – rambutan offer additional health benefits – the best – researched include:
. Reduce Cancer Risk: A few cell and animal studies found that compounds in rambutan may help prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells.
. Protect Against Heart Disease – One animal study showed that extracts made from rambutan peel reduced total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in diabetic mice.
. Protect Against Diabetes – Cell and animal studies report that rambutam peel extract may increase insulin sensitivity and reduce fasting blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
Though promising, these three additional benefits are generally linked to compounds found in the rambutan peel or seeds – both of which are not usually consumed by humans. Most of these benefits have only been observed in cell and animal research.
Rambutan can be consumed raw either from flesh or canned fruits. Its flesh can be used to make juice or jam and can add a pop of sweetness to many recipes.
Reference: wikipedia / healthline .com