Rambutan (Nephellium lappaceum) is a unique looking fruit that originates from Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia. Today, rambutan is a popular fruit not just amongst the Asians. It is now cultivated in Hawaii, Caribbean islands, Australia, Afrika, and Central America.
The name rambutan comes from the Malay word “rambut” which means “hair”, a reference to the numerous hairy protuberances of the fruit.
Rambutan is known by many different names around the world. For instance, ‘Ramboetan’ in Dutch, ‘Ramboutan or ramboutanier’ in French, ‘Ramboostan’ in India, ‘Chom chom’ in Vietnam, ‘Chle sao mao’ in Khmer (Cambodia), and so on.
The rambutans are also known as “hairy lychee” because the fruit is very similar to the lychee in size and shape except the outer shell of the fruit is covered with short, hair-like spikes – almost looks like a sea urchin. The fruit is naturally red in color but sometimes yellow or orange. The inner flesh is juicy, whitish, with a sweet, mildly acidic flavor clinging a central seed with an almond-like taste.
The rambutan fruit is usually eaten fresh, but it can also be canned or used in salads, jellies and ice cream. Rambutan seeds are often roasted and eaten as a snack in the Philippines.
Rambutan Nutrition Facts
Rambutan fruit is high in water content and is low in calories, about 7 per fruit (9 grams). The fruit is a rich source of vitamin C, niacin, manganese and contains some important nutrients like calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
The following is the nutritional value of one cup (214 grams) of canned rambutan in syrup [source]:
|Dietary fiber||1.9 g||8%|
|Vitamin C||10.5 mg||17%|
|Vitamin B3||2.9 mg||14%|
Rambutan Health Benefits
1. Prevents cancer
The rambutan peel contains gallic acid, a naturally occurring plant phenol, that are known to prevent cancer by inhibiting the cancer growth and inducing cell death in cancer cells. Moreover, the vitamin C present in the fruit neutralizes free radicals that are harmful and thereby reducing the risk of cancer.
2. Enhances immune system
The high content of vitamin C in rambutan also help strengthen your immune system so that it can protect your body against foreign invaders. Consumption of rambutan on a regular basis can prevent various types of common disease caused by bacteria and virus, such as cold, cough, flu, and fever.
3. Treats dysentery
Dysentery is an infection of the intestines caused by small microscopic organisms and can result in severe diarrhea with mucus or blood in the feces. Rambutan peel has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which have been shown to be effective in the treatment of dysentery.
To treat dysentery, take some of the peel and cut them into small pieces. Boil the chopped peel and strain the liquid. Drink this twice or thrice a day.
4. Diabetes management
Rambutan seed has long been used in diabetic traditional treatment and has been reported to contain polyphenols such as tannins and saponins which are known as antidiabetic agents.
How to eat:
- Take a few rambutan seeds and chop them into small pieces.
- Allow them to dry in the sun for a few days.
- Now grind these dried chopped seeds into a fine powder.
- Add a little of this powder in a glass of hot water.
- Drink the mixture once a day, 1 hour before having a meal.
5. Maintains bone health
Another benefit of this fruits is that it helps in the formation and maintenance of your bones and teeth. This is due to the fact that the fruit is rich in calcium, phosphorus and iron. Healthier bones lead to stable growth and reduced chances of fractures and other bone diseases.
6. Promotes hair growth
Rambutan contains copper which is crucial for normal hair growth. Sufficient levels of copper can prevent hair loss and contribute to hair thickness. Copper is also thought to intensify hair color and prevent premature graying of hair.
7. Skin care
The high amount of vitamin B3 and water present in rambutan is very helpful to keep the skin moisturize and smooth. Apart from that, vitamin C found in rambutan helps to prevent free radical damage and oxidative stress to the skin, thus protect the body from various types of skin disease such as acne, dark spots, wrinkles, etc.
8. Aids weight loss
Rambutan contains high amount of fiber and is low in calories, which makes it a good choice for those trying to lose weight. Dietary fiber helps to keep you feel full for a longer period, so you’ll eat less during the rest of the day.
9. Keeps thyroid healthy
Rambutan has a good amount of copper, which is important for regulating thyroid functions. It is necessary for the production and absorption of thyroid hormones. Copper is also needed for the formation of red blood cells.
10. Good for pregnant women
Rambutan contains iron which are very beneficial for pregnant women as it helps ease symptoms of dizziness and fatigue due to anemia during pregnancy and keep your hemoglobin levels in check.
How to Store Rambutan
The rambutan should be stored in the refrigerator, sealed in a plastic bag for best results. It can be stored for six days before discoloration of the skin occurs. Exposure to higher or lower temperatures results in rapid loss of quality. Also, do not leave the fruits directly exposed to ambient air, because the hair and red rind will turn dark brown rapidly.