What Is Longan And What Are Its Benefits?
Sometimes it seems like longan fruit is called like this because of the long list of benefits it can bring to people’s life.
In fact, this fruit has been taking roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, serving as a unique and complex disease remedy. And while you’re unlikely to get bitten by a snake in the modern world, the useful properties of the fruit are still applicable and relevant these days. And today you will find out why it’s worth being included into your healthy diet and normal regimen.
Active compounds and antioxidants containing in this fruit can boost your immune system and support your heart and brain health. Sounds pretty tempting, huh? Besides the huge list of benefits, you are also going to learn the precautions of consuming the fruit. See how to make it work for you right!
What Is Longan?
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“What is longan, after all?”, you may ask. Remember the sweet and yummy lychee? They come from the same family (soapberry) and their taste and appearance are pretty similar. Longan or Dimocarpus longan is a small, round, watery, and sweet fruit with a thick brown shell that gets harder with the time. Just like most tropical fruits, longan grows in Asia, so if you travel to Thailand, Vietnam or China, you can see this delicious cutie everywhere.
When the fruit is fresh enough to eat, the pericarp gets off easily so that you can separate the black seed out of the white succulent pulp. But don’t go too fast throwing the seed in the trash: after being processed, it can help you get healthy extracts and essential oils.
The Unique Combination Of Bioactive Compounds
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The whole fruit, including its seed, pulp, and flowers are rich in active compounds and elements that can support the human body.
The flower and seeds are high in antioxidants called polyphenols that can protect your body from cancer and heart diseases.
As for the pulp, fruit, and extracts, they contain so many essential compounds that they deserve being listed:
- Antioxidants: kaempferol, ellagic acid, and quercetin
- Polysaccharides that can fight with chronic diseases, boosting the immune system
- Vitamin C
- Corilagin which can help you reduce blood pressure
- Adenosine which can provide your body with relaxation and improve your sleep
- Uridine which may ump up mood and cognition
- Chlorogenic acid which protects the heart and boosts weight loss
15 Amazing Longan Fruit Health Benefits
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Longan flowers can protect the brain through preventing damage of dopamine neurons. In this way, during a scientific study, the fruit has shown its property of Parkinson’s disease prevention in rats. As we’ve mentioned before, the fruit contains polysaccharides, which, in their turn, reduced brain damage in rats with stroke, increasing vital antioxidant enzymes in their brain. There’s also a case of fighting with Alzheimer’s disease in mice with the help of a Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal mix that contained longan.
Immune System-Boosting Properties
According to several cell studies, longan pulp may increase the activity of white blood cells. Polysaccharides found in the fruit are its strongest compounds that can strengthen the immune system. One cell study revealed the lymphoma-killing potential of longan: the longan polysaccharides made immune cells degrade harmful elements, activating natural killer cells.
Ellagic and gallic acids, which are considered excellent antioxidants, can be found in longan in a great concentration. These two components help to reduce inflammation in immune cells by boosting antioxidant enzymes.
A cell study represented the longans inflammation reducing properties, finding out that it can block inflammatory pathways and work as painkillers do.
Longan is known to contain compounds that can fight or prevent cancer which was actually proven by several cellular studies. According to the data, longan extracts could fight many cancer types, such as lung, breast, liver, uterine, and lymphoma. The strongest effect was shown on breast cancer cells: over 60% of cells were killed and stopped.
Longan may also reduce the activity of oncogenes and turn antioncogenes in cells, working on a DNA level. Another benefit of its cancer-preventing side is the ability to trigger the autodestructive mechanism in cells, thus causing cancer cells to degrade.
The fruit contains an anxiety-relieving nucleoside that works as a sleep aid of the body. That’s why longan seeds have been used as an effective insomnia remedy for years. Studies represented its sleep-improving properties that enhanced sleep of stressed mice.
A study that was focused on dealing with metabolic syndrome and diabetes, made an experiment with mice fed a high-sugar diet. This is when longan revealed its anti-diabetes benefits, improving insulin resistance. It could also prevent high blood pressure and contribute to boosting antioxidant defense, which are huge longan benefits for people suffering from such diseases.
Blood Pressure-Reducing Properties.
It turned out that longan seeds contain a component called corilagin that reduced blood pressure in rats. Relaxing blood vessels, it decreased noradrenaline this balancing out the pressure.
Longan leaves may act similarly to drugs meant to treat gout. They showed their ability to block the enzyme causing acid buildup in gout.
As a part of TCM combination, longan was used in a scientific, medical experiment of 200 pregnant women with anemia. As a result, it increased hemoglobin and red blood cell count, giving a better effect than the standard anemia treatment after 2 weeks. The same effect was reached in older people with the condition.
Throughout a specific study, the fruit improved memory and learning in mice by increasing BDNF and survival of young brain cells. Alongside with a mix of 4 herbs, the extract worked well on memory in mice with Alzheimer’s.
Rats fed with a high-calorie diet didn’t gain much weight due to the longan fruit extract containing in their regimen. Apart from enhancing fat elimination through the stool, the fruit reduced body weight, liver fats, the activity of genes responsible for storing fats in the body, elements that promote fat burning and boost metabolism.
Since the fruit is rich in antioxidants, it has an anti-aging potential that can be revealed by its insulin-sensitizing and glucose-reducing properties. Glycation is the process that causes cells to age, and longan can reduce it, boosting the activity of important proteins.
The polysaccharides found in longan seeds can boost energy and reduce fatigue, also reducing lactic acid that causes muscle cramps.
Bone Health-Boosting Properties.
Some studies showed that longan could boost bone health by increasing the activity of bone-building cells.
Side Effects To Be Aware Of
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It’s all well and good, but even the biggest blessing can’t do without some curse. There are no severe side effects after consuming the fruit, but don’t forget about your individual response. Though the chances are pretty low, you still may be allergic to longan. When giving it a try, just make sure to start with small portion size.
Also, if you have diabetes, you should consult with your doctor whether you can eat the fruit or not. The truth is, a longan berry is rich in sugar and carbs high intake of which may be harmful to people with the disease. Of course, it can boost your immune system with the vitamins, yet, it can really affect your sugar level.
Recommendations For Eating Longan
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Don’t go too much with the fruit for sake of soaking all the benefits. As you have seen from the previous paragraphs, most studies were done on mice and cells. And despite the successful results of those investigations, there are still no 100% proofs of them being applicable to the human body. Some clinical studies used 6-15 g dried longan pulp, and that the dose you’d better stick to.
Sources Of Longan Benefits
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If you don’t leave in Asia and don’t have a possibility to pick a fruit right from the longan fruit tree, there are some alternative ways to let its benefits into your life. Try to find Chinese stores in your area. In most cases, it’s available as dried fruit. You can also find the fruit in powder form, in capsules or tincture. And if you’re a supplements-lover, you can purchase extracts-based supplements, Traditional Chinese Medicine preparations sold under the name “Long Yan Rou”.
The gifts produced by the longan tree are no longer a mystery for you! Moreover, you’ve explored the delicious fruit backwards and forwards. And even though there’s a lack of clinical studies, there’s one thing you can know for sure: if you adjust the right dose of the fruit, you won’t go wrong with it. So if you always wanted to try it out but hesitated for some reason, just give it a shot. It’s so tasty, after all.