When it comes to eating fruits, there are countless options to pick from. One fruit that may not be as well-known but is worth trying is rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum L.). This exotic fruit, which is native to Southeast Asia, typically in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, India, and Sri Lanka, is currently grown in other tropical areas too.1 Rambutan has a juicy taste with a sweet twist that can be enjoyed on its own or as a complement to other dishes. Beyond its delicious taste, rambutan is also packed with numerous health benefits that can help keep you feeling your best. In this article, we'll explore some of the key health benefits of rambutan fruit, as well as ways to incorporate it into your diet.
About rambutan fruit
Before we dive into the vast diversity of health benefits of the rambutan fruit, let's take a closer look at what it is and where it comes from. Rambutan fruit is a small, round fruit that is about the size of a golf ball. It has a red, spiky exterior that is tough to the touch, but inside you'll find a soft and juicy white fruit that has a sweet and slightly tangy taste. Rambutan fruit is grown on trees that are native to Southeast Asia, but it can now be found in other parts of the world as well, including Central and South America, the Caribbean, and parts of Africa.1
Health benefits of rambutan fruit
Now that we know a bit more about the rambutan fruit, here are some key health benefits that this fruit can offer.
- High in nutrients: Rambutan fruit is rich in nutrients that can help support overall health and well-being. For example, it is a good source of vitamin C, which is essential for immune system function and can also help support healthy skin and hair.2 Rambutan fruit is also high in copper, which is vital for healthy blood vessels and bones, as well as manganese, which can help support healthy metabolism and bone health.2 More information about this will be elaborated in the next section.
- Help fight inflammation: Rambutan fruit contains several compounds that may help fight inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can be harmful and has been linked to a range of health problems. The compounds found in rambutan fruit, such as flavonoids and tannins, may help reduce inflammation and protect against its harmful effects2
- Help lower blood pressure: High blood pressure is a common health problem that can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. However, some studies have suggested that rambutan fruit may help lower blood pressure levels. This may be due to its high potassium content, which can help support healthy blood pressure levels3
- Help improve digestion: Rambutan fruit is high in fibre, which can help support healthy digestion and prevent constipation. In addition, it contains several compounds that may help promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which can also support digestive health2
- Help boost energy: Rambutan fruit is a good source of carbohydrates which can provide the body with the energy it needs to function properly. Additionally, the fruit contains several B vitamins, which can help support healthy energy metabolism and reduce feelings of fatigue4
Nutrients we can get from rambutan fruit
As briefly mentioned earlier, rambutan fruit is packed with nutrients that can benefit our health in various ways. The key nutrients found in rambutan fruit include:2,3,4
- Vitamin C: Rambutan fruit is a rich source of vitamin C, which is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, protecting our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Rambutan contains about 25mg of Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) per 100g
- Fibre: Rambutan fruit is high in fibre, which is important for digestive health. Fibre helps to promote regular bowel movements and can also help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. The fibre content of rambutan fruit can range from 0.3g to 2.8g per 100g
- Iron: Rambutan fruit also contains iron, which is important for the production of red blood cells. Iron also helps to transport oxygen throughout the body and can help to prevent anemia. The iron content per 100g of rambutan fruit is about 530mg
- Calcium: Rambutan fruit contains calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth. Calcium also plays a role in muscle function and nerve transmission. Rambutan fruit contains around 8.7g of calcium per 100g
- Potassium: Rambutan fruit is rich in potassium, which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Potassium also plays a role in muscle and nerve function. The potassium content of rambutan is about 220g per 100g
Ways to include rambutan fruit in our diet
- Rambutan fruit itself: One of the simplest ways to enjoy rambutan fruit is to eat it on its own. Simply cut open the fruit and eat the white flesh from the seed. You can also try adding rambutan fruit to fruit salads or smoothies for a sweet and juicy addition
- Rambutan fruit juice: If you prefer to drink your fruit, you can also try making rambutan fruit juice. Simply blend the fruit with water or coconut water, and strain out any solids for a refreshing and hydrating beverage
- Rambutan fruit in desserts: Rambutan fruit can also be used as a sweet and juicy addition to desserts. Try adding it to a fruit tart or topping off a bowl of ice cream with some fresh rambutan fruit
- Rambutan fruit in savory dishes: While rambutan fruit is often used in sweet dishes, it can also be a great addition to savory dishes. Try adding some diced rambutan fruit to a Thai curry or using it as a topping for grilled fish or chicken
Rambutan fruit has a spiky exterior that needs to be removed before eating. To do this, use a sharp knife to cut through the skin around the middle of the fruit, being careful not to cut into the flesh. Then, use your fingers to peel away the skin, revealing the juicy white flesh inside.
Rambutan fruit can be eaten on its own as a healthy snack or used in a variety of recipes. As discussed before, it can be added to smoothies, salads, desserts, and savory dishes. When selecting rambutan fruit, look for fruits that are firm and have bright red or yellow skin. Avoid fruits that are soft or have brown spots, as these may indicate overripeness.
In addition to eating the flesh of the fruit, the seeds of the rambutan can also be consumed. While the seeds are not typically eaten raw, they can be roasted or boiled and used in various recipes. The seeds are rich in healthy fats and protein, making them a nutritious addition to a variety of dishes.
How much is enough?
While rambutan fruit is packed with health benefits, it's important to consume it in moderation. Like all fruit, rambutan fruit contains natural sugars that can contribute to glucose and calorie intake if consumed in excess. It's recommended that adults aim for 2 to 3 servings of fruit per day, which can include rambutan fruit as well as other types of fruit.
While rambutan fruit is generally safe to eat, there are some potential side effects to be aware of. For example, some people may experience an allergic reaction to the fruit, which can cause symptoms such as itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and even rarely anaphylaxis.5 Additionally, the high fibre content of rambutan fruit can cause digestive discomfort if consumed in excess. To avoid these potential side effects, it's important to consume rambutan fruit in moderation and listen to your body's cues.
Rambutan is a delicious and exotic fruit that is packed with numerous health benefits. It is high in nutrients, fibre, and antioxidants, and may help fight inflammation, lower blood pressure, improve digestion, and boost energy levels. Rambutan fruit can be eaten on its own, added to fruit salads or smoothies, used in desserts, or as a topping for savory dishes. It is a versatile fruit that can easily be incorporated into a healthy and balanced diet. So, next time you are looking for a new fruit to try, consider giving rambutan a chance and enjoy the health benefits it has to offer.
- Hernández-Hernández C, Aguilar CN, Rodríguez-Herrera R, Flores-Gallegos AC, Morlett-Chávez J, Govea-Salas M, et al. Rambutan(Nephelium lappaceum L.):Nutritional and functional properties. Trends in Food Science & Technology. 2019 Mar;85:201–10. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0924224418306642
- Afzaal M, Saeed F, Bibi M, Ejaz A, Shah YA, Faisal Z, et al. Nutritional, pharmaceutical, and functional aspects of rambutan in industrial perspective: An updated review. Food Science & Nutrition. 2023 Jul;11(7):3675–85. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/fsn3.3379
- Schutte AE. Fruit intake and reduced risk of hypertension: are there any forbidden fruits? Eur J Prev Cardiolog. 2020 Jan;27(1):36–8. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/eurjpc/article/27/1/36-38/5919125
- Mahmood K, Kamilah H, Alias AK, Ariffin F. Nutritional and therapeutic potentials of rambutan fruit (Nephelium lappaceum L.) and the by-products: a review. Food Measure. 2018 Sep 1;12(3):1556–71. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11694-018-9771-y
- Jirapongsananuruk O, Jirarattanasopa N, Pongpruksa S, Vichyanond P, Piboonpocanun S. Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase as a major allergen in rambutan-induced anaphylaxis. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 2011 Jun;106(6):545–7. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1081120611001888