Rambutan: A Tasty Fruit With Health Benefits
Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) is a fruit native to Southeast Asia.
It grows in a tree that can reach up to 80 feet (27 meters) in height and thrives best in tropical climates, such as in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Rambutan got its name from the Malay word for hair because the golf-ball-sized fruit has a hairy red and green shell. Its unmistakable appearance is often compared to that of a sea urchin.
The fruit is related to the lychee and longan fruits and has a similar appearance when peeled. Its translucent white flesh has a sweet yet creamy taste and contains a seed in its middle.
Rambutan is very nutritious and may offer health benefits ranging from weight loss and better digestion to increased resistance to infections.
Here are some of the main health benefits of rambutan and how to eat it:
Rich in Nutrients and Antioxidants
The 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 2–6% of the daily recommended amount of the other nutrients.
The rambutan peel and seed are thought to be rich sources of nutrients, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. Though some people eat them, neither are currently considered edible. 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.
Promotes Healthy Digestion
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 food 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 shorty-chain fatty acid can also reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of gut disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
May Aid Weight Loss
Just like most fruits, rambutan may prevent weight gain and promote weight lose 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 you 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.