Lychee's Impact On Immune System Support

  • Hadia ZainabDoctor of Physical Therapy, DPT, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Pakistan
  • Jialu Li Master of Science in Language Sciences (Neuroscience) UCL
  • Philip James ElliottB.Sc. (Hons), B.Ed. (Hons) (Cardiff University), PGCE (University of Strathclyde), CELTA (Cambridge University) , FSB, MMCA


Lychees have a rich history, originally coming from the Guangdong province of China, have been enjoyed by people for thousands of years, and now are a commercially important fruit that is cultivated in many parts of the world.1 

The Lychee plant is a member of the soapberry plant family, Sapindaceae, which contains many different tropical and subtropical trees and plants.

Lychees are fruit that don't ripen after being picked. Lychees, come in the colours of pink and red, which are caused by the anthocyanins present within the outer layers. 

They are not only refreshing, due to their high water content, but also rich in beneficial properties that boost immune health. 

The importance of immune system support

Your body's first line of defence against microorganism invaders is your immune system. Your immune system governs your body’s ability to fight with foreign organisms that cause diseases or illnesses. It aids in preventing illness and speeds up recovery from illnesses or injuries. If you often feel sick or have symptoms that won't go away, then it’s advisable to pay attention to your health, as your immune system might not be working properly. 

Your immune system can be strengthened by maintaining a well-balanced diet, which includes food sources rich in Vitamin C, just like the Lychees.9 Exercising, and getting enough sleep are equally important in order to boost your immune system.2

Role of vitamin C in immune health

Vitamin C is an essential water-soluble vitamin found in foods like Lychee. It plays an important role in many functions such as the growth and maintenance of tissues, staying healthy, reducing stress, and protecting the immune system. It's also important for making certain substances the body needs such as folate and serotonin.10 In various diseases such as cancer, or especially in very sick people, vitamin C levels can drop, making the illness worse.11 Some studies suggest that giving vitamin C through a vein might help save lives in severe conditions like septic shock.3,10

Studies also reveal that combining Vitamin C and Zinc helped relieve symptoms of the common cold faster by boosting immunity and was well-tolerated. Using vitamin C plus zinc might be a good and safe way to fight the common cold, which can be quite bothersome.4

As people age, their immune systems weaken. A study reveals that giving older adults vitamin C (500 mg) or both vitamin C (500 mg) and vitamin E (200 mg) daily for three months resulted in improved immune function, similar to that of young adults, which lasted for months even after stopping the supplements. Taking these vitamins for a short time may help older adults maintain a healthier immune system.5

Additionally, Vitamin C, helps skin cells make collagen, thus helping produce healthy skin as a barrier to infection and defending against the penetration of harmful molecules.6

Lychees as a source of vitamin C and antioxidants 

Lychees are a good source of Vitamin C providing 71.5 mg of Vitamin C per 100g.12 It also contains antioxidants that help the body protect against the harmful effects of free radicals.7 These molecules can have harmful effects on our cells, leading to serious conditions like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's. The antioxidants in lychee step up to the plate, neutralising these troublemakers and giving our body a solid defence.

Nutritional composition of lychees

According to the Health Encyclopedia, the nutritional content of one raw lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) fruit, excluding any inedible parts like the peel or seeds, is as follows: 

Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid (mg)6.86
Protein (g)0.08
Total lipid (fat) (g)0.04
Carbohydrate, by difference (g)1.59
Energy (kcal)6.34
Sugars, total (g)1.46
Fibre, total dietary (g)0.12
Calcium, Ca (mg)0.48
Iron, Fe (mg)0.03
Magnesium, Mg (mg)0.96
Phosphorus, P (mg)2.98
Zinc, Zn (mg)0.01
Copper, Cu (mg)0.01
Selenium, Se (mcg)0.06
Riboflavin (mg)0.01
Niacin (mg)0.06
Vitamin B-6 (mg)0.01
Folate, total (mcg)1.34
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) (mcg)0.04
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) (mg)0.01
Fatty acids, (total saturated) (g)0.01

Comparison with other vitamin C-rich sources

When people think of vitamin C, they often think of oranges, but the lychee fruit is also rich in it. Just 100 grams of lychee gives you more than 100 per cent of your daily vitamin C needs. Vitamin C is essential for preventing bleeding and speeding up wound healing.10,13 It also helps build collagen, the protein that supports our body tissues. Some studies suggest that vitamin C can contribute to heart health and overall life expectancy. However, there's still debate about using large amounts of vitamin C to prevent and treat minor infections like the common cold, as data from different studies are mixed.8

Incorporating lychees into your diet

Adding lychees to your diet is a healthy way to boost your immune system. Eating about three to four lychees each day is recommended. Include lychees in your meals by eating them fresh, adding them to fruit salads, blending them in smoothies, or using them in desserts. Try new ideas like making lychee-infused salsas or chutneys, and enjoy a refreshing lychee iced tea. Lychees bring a special sweet taste and nutritional goodness to different foods you make.

According to the Research Gate, the benefits of lychees include:

  • Rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C, B-complex, and flavonoids
  • Packed with nutrients involved in blood production (manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, folate)
  • Boost metabolism via their high levels of Vitamin B-complex
  • Promote gut health due to their fibre content
  • Help prevent early ageing with high antioxidants
  • Help maintain blood pressure and electrolyte balance (via potassium content)
  • Contains minerals to support overall cardiovascular health
  • Protect against free radicals and oxidative stress
  • May help prevent degenerative diseases including arthritis
  • Help provide protection against asthma
  • Help promote cardiovascular health through high-fibre content


How do lychees contribute to immune system support?

Lychee supports the immune system by providing a significant amount of Vitamin C and antioxidants, which help in fighting off infections and boosting overall immunity.

What role do antioxidants in lychee play in immune health?

Antioxidants in lychee combat free radicals, preventing cellular damage and supporting a healthy immune system by reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Is there an optimal amount of lychee to consume for immune benefits?

While there's no strict rule, but including three to four lychees in your daily intake can contribute to immune system support.

Can lychees help prevent illnesses?

While it's not a cure-all, the nutrients in lychee, especially Vitamin C and antioxidants, can contribute to a robust immune system, potentially reducing the risk of certain illnesses.

Are there any precautions or contraindications related to lychee consumption for immune support?

Lychees are generally safe, but those with allergies to similar fruits should exercise caution. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice.

Can lychees be part of a balanced diet for overall health?

Lychee's nutritional profile, including Vitamin C, fibre, and antioxidants, makes it a delicious and healthy addition to a balanced diet, supporting overall well-being.


Incorporating lychees into your diet offers a multitude of health benefits. They are rich in Vitamin C, providing a significant boost to your immune system. Packed with antioxidants, lychees play an essential role in combating oxidative stress, protecting your cells from damage, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Additionally, the dietary fibre in lychees promotes healthy digestion and supports a well-balanced gut microbiome. With high water content, lychees also contribute to overall hydration, a key factor for various bodily functions. Beyond their nutritional value, lychees are a low-calorie snack option, making them a delicious and guilt-free addition to your diet. The delightful flavour of lychees adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the numerous health benefits they bring to the table.


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  3. Gordon DS, Rudinsky AJ, Guillaumin J, Parker VJ, Creighton KJ. Vitamin c in health and disease: a companion animal focus. Top Companion Anim Med. 2020 Jun;39:100432.
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  7. Liu SC, Lin JT, Wang CK, Chen HY, Yang DJ. Antioxidant properties of various solvent extracts from lychee (Litchi chinenesis Sonn.) flowers. Food Chemistry [Internet]. 2009 May 15 [cited 2023 Dec 15];114(2):577–81. Available from:
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  11. Reang J, Sharma PC, Thakur VK, Majeed J. Understanding the Therapeutic Potential of Ascorbic Acid in the Battle to Overcome Cancer. Biomolecules [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2024 Apr 27]; 11(8):1130. Available from:
  12. Koul B, Singh J. Lychee Biology and Biotechnology. The Lychee Biotechnology [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2024 Apr 27]; 137–92. Available from:
  13. Hujoel PP, Kato T, Hujoel IA, Hujoel MLA. Bleeding tendency and ascorbic acid requirements: systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Nutr Rev. 2021; 79(9):964–75. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Hadia Zainab

Doctor of Physical Therapy, DPT, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Pakistan

Hadia is a freelance medical and health writer who creates empathetic and informative content for patients and healthcare professionals. She firmly believes in the importance of kindness, empathy and clear communication to strengthen the bond between patients and providers.

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