Longan fruit is a subtropical fruit belonging to the Sapindaceae family. Longan fruit is native to southern and southeast Asia and can be found in China, Taiwan, Thailand, India, etc.
It is a succulent fruit with a thin, leathery, and indehiscent pericarp that surrounds an edible aril. This fruit has a hard shell and a brown seed and resembles Lychee.1 Longan fruit is prized on world markets for its flavoursome semi-translucent to white aril.
Longan fruit is also known as ‘dragon’s eye’ or ‘Dimocarpus longan’. The flesh of the fruit is white and sweet, resembling a grape in taste and texture but longan is muskier. Longan fruit is available in fresh or dried form and is used in Chinese medicine.
In Traditional Chinese medicine, this fruit and its seed are used for healing and general health. Longan fruits are believed to have numerous health benefits, including boosting the immune system and improving digestion.
Health benefits of longan fruit
Fruits have been considered healthy and included in our diets for centuries. One serving of longan fruit fulfils a day’s requirements.
- Improves skin health: Vitamin C helps to reverse the signs of ageing. Longan fruits contain rich levels of vitamin C that help reduce oxidative stress on the skin and improve skin health like pigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes, etc.2 It helps regenerate new cells, prevents peeling of the skin, maintains the skin's moisture and keeps it youthful and radiant
- Better memory: It helps to combat anxiety and is used widely in traditional Chinese medicine. It is a nootropic in nature that helps enhance cognitive function and memory. A study shows that longan fruit is a tonic that helps treat forgetfulness, insomnia, or palpitations.3 It helps improve brain functions and reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s disease
- Anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties: Longan fruit contains ellagic acid, epicatechin and gallic acid, which helps reduce the release of inflammatory substances in the body4
- Improves sleep: This fruit helps decrease anxiety and stress levels due to its anxiolytic activity. Insomnia has become very common these days. Longan fruit induces sleep by decreasing the stress hormone cortisol and contributes to sleep rate and time5
- Protects against chronic disease: Stress releases free radicals that cause cellular damage in tissues and organs. Because of its anti-oxidative properties, longan fruit can fight those free radicals and prevent cell damage or cell death, providing protection against chronic diseases and preventing diseases from occurring. Vitamin C, a well-known anti-oxidant, helps in reducing free radicals
- Immunity booster: Longan fruit has anti-microbial properties. It helps build the immune system and fight infections. Longan fruit exhibits potent anti-microbial properties. As a result, this allows the immune system to fight infections. In addition, it is rich in vitamin C, a well-known antioxidant that can reduce free radicals’ harmful action. Consuming longan fruit can aid the immune system’s defence mechanism by generating white blood cells. It helps treat and prevent sore throat, common cold, fever, etc
- Boosts libido: Studies have shown that longan fruit helps increase stamina and boost libido. It increases sex drive in both men and women and is a traditional aphrodisiac. This fruit juice has been popular in China for over 400 years to cure sexual inadequacies.6 Studies show Longan’s role in treating erectile dysfunction and improving sexual health
- Prevents anaemia: Consuming longan fruit increases the generation of healthy red blood cells and is rich in iron. It helps to treat iron deficiency anaemia and reduces the risk of anaemia
- Energy-rich: It is ideal to consume longan fruit if you need something to keep you energetic throughout the day. It charges you instantly and has a good amount of fruit sugars. It works brilliantly as an energy booster7
In Traditional Chinese medicine, longan fruit has the following therapeutic uses:
- Pain and inflammation reduction
- Combating anxiety, depression and stress
- Reduces stomach cramps and discomfort
- Historically, the seeds of the longan fruit were pressed, against its skin to relieve pain and swelling due to snake bites.
- To increase stamina and reduce fatigue
- Promote relaxation and improve sleep quality
In 100 grams of longan fruit:8
|Total lipid (fat)||0.1 g|
|Total dietary Fibre||1.1 g|
|Total trans fatty acid||0 mg|
Side effects and other concerns
- High sugar content: Longan fruit contains high sugar content. Its high sugar content and its low fibre content increase blood glucose levels relatively quickly. In addition to that, 100 grams of longan fruit consists of about 1 gram of fibre which fails to reduce the glycemic response. Dried and canned longan contain more sweetness than fresh longan and hence the calorie content is always high in fresh longan fruit. It is not recommended for diabetes or a low-sugar diet
- Pesticide poisoning: Pesticide poisoning is common in Longan because of its vulnerability to pests. Pesticides are used to protect the fruit but the level of the chemical exceeds the safe range to protect it increasing the possibility of food poisoning. Further, peeling the fruit with teeth can expose you to food poisoning. Symptoms include vomiting, stomachache, etc
- Obesity: Carbohydrate present in the fruit increases the sugar level in the body. Consuming longan fruit for a long time can increase body weight and cause obesity
- It can decrease your appetite: The presence of potassium and a high amount of carbohydrates can make your stomach fuller and decrease your appetite
- Not safe during pregnancy: It is recommended not to take longan fruit during pregnancy. It might cause you dry mouth, constipation, and stomach pain, leading to pregnancy complications. As longan fruit raises the body's temperature, it worsens when you experience hot flushes during pregnancy
Longan fruits are a great source of nutrition and have several health benefits. They contain essential vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fibre which boosts the immune system. For those who are looking for a delicious and nutritious snack, Longan fruit is an excellent choice.
- Dimocarpus Longan - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jun 2]. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/dimocarpus-longan#:~:text=Disease%20Prevention%2C%202011-,Introduction,%2C%20Sichuan%2C%20and%20Yunnan%20provinces.
- Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The roles of vitamin C in skin health. Nutrients [Internet]. 2017 Aug 12 [cited 2023 Jun 2];9(8):866. PubMed Central. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579659/
- Park SJ, Park DH, Kim DH, Lee S, Yoon BH, Jung WY, et al. The memory-enhancing effects of Euphoria longan fruit extract in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Mar 2;128(1):160–65.
- Huang GJ, Wang BS, Lin WC, Huang SS, Lee CY, Yen MT, et al. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of longan (Dimocarpus longan lour.) pericarp. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine [Internet]. 2012 Aug 26 [cited 2023 Jun 2];2012:e709483. Available from: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/709483/
- Shi Y, Dong JW, Zhao JH, Tang LN, Zhang JJ. Herbal insomnia medications that target GABAergic systems: a review of the psychopharmacological evidence. Curr Neuropharmacol [Internet]. 2014 May [cited 2023 Jun 2];12(3):289–302. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4023459/
- DeFilipps RA, Krupnick GA. The medicinal plants of Myanmar. PhytoKeys [Internet]. 2018 Jun 28 [cited 2023 Jun 2];(102):1–341. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6033956/
- Lin CC, Chung YC, Hsu CP. Potential roles of longan flower and seed extracts for anti-cancer. World J Exp Med [Internet]. 2012 Aug 20 [cited 2023 Jun 2];2(4):78–85. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905590/
- Fooddata central [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jun 2]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169089/nutrients