The first time I was presented with Rambutan I really did not know what I was looking at. There they were on our dining table, plenty of them and they were strikingly green and orangy-red color.
I really didn’t know what they were, food or something else and when I closely looked at them I was a little bit doubtful even scary because they wiggled and the outside appearances were like multiple hairy balls as if they were going to crawl.
Well, that was what I thought they would do.
Not until our housekeeper explained to me and picked up one and showed it to me and how to open it and guess what? She ate it in front of me. So, that was how I found out that they were fruits.
What is Rambutan?
The name “rambutan” is derived from the Indonesian language word ‘rambut’ meaning “hair”. Its unmistakable appearance is often compared to that of a sea urchin.
The rambutan is a medium-sized tropical tree in the family Sapindaceae. The name also refers to the edible fruit produced by this tree which is often described as sweet and creamy and contains a seed in its middle
The rambutan is native to Southeast Asia in tropical countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Australia.
It grows on a medium-sized tree, Nephelium iappaceum, that can reach up to 80 feet (27 meters) in height which is related to the lychee. The fruit grows in clusters on evergreen trees It is closely related to several other edible tropical fruits including the lychee, longan, pulasan, and mamoncillo.
Difference Between Male and Female Rambutan
Rambutan trees can be male (producing only staminate flowers and, hence, produce no fruit), female (producing flowers that are only functionally female), or hermaphroditic (producing flowers that are female with a small percentage of male flowers).
Health Benefits of Rambutan
1. Rich in Nutrients and Antioxidants
The rambutan fruit is rich in many vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds. Its flesh provides around 1.3–2 grams of total fiber per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) — similar to what you would find in the same quantity of apples, oranges, or pears.
It’s also rich in vitamin C, a nutrient that helps your body absorb dietary iron more easily. This vitamin also acts as an antioxidant, protecting your body’s cells against damage. Eating 5–6 rambutan fruit will meet 50% of your daily vitamin C needs.
Rambutan and Minerals
Rambutan also contains a good amount of copper, which plays a role in the proper growth and maintenance of various cells, including those of your bones, brain, and heart.
It offers smaller amounts of manganese, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc as well. Eating 3.5 ounces (100 grams) — or about four fruit — will meet 20% of your daily copper needs and 2–6% of the daily recommended amount of the other nutrients.
Risks About Rambutan Peel and Seed
The rambutan peel and seed are thought to be rich sources of nutrients, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds. Though some people eat them, neither are currently considered edible. In fact, they appear to contain certain compounds that may be toxic to humans.
Roasting the seeds may reduce these effects, and individuals from some cultures seem to consume them this way. However, reliable information on the proper roasting procedure is currently unavailable. Until more is known, it may be safest to avoid eating the seeds altogether.
2. Promotes Healthy Digestion
Rambutan may contribute to healthy digestion due to its fiber content. About half of the fiber in its flesh is insoluble, which means that it passes through your gut undigested.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and helps speed up intestinal transit, thus reducing your likelihood of constipation
The other half of the fiber is soluble. Soluble fiber provides food for your beneficial gut bacteria. In turn, these friendly bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids, such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate, which feed the cells of your gut.
These short-chain fatty acids can also reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of gut disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis
3. May Aid Weight Loss
Just like most fruits, rambutan may prevent weight gain and promote weight loss over time
At around 75 calories and 1.3–2 grams of fiber per 3.5 ounces (100 grams), it’s relatively low in calories for the amount of fiber it provides. This can help keep you fuller for longer, which may reduce your likelihood of overeating and promote weight loss over time
What’s more, the soluble fiber in rambutan can dissolve in water and form a gel-like substance in your gut that helps slow down digestion and the absorption of nutrients. It can also lead to reduced appetite and greater feelings of fullness
4. May Help Fight Infection
The rambutan fruit may contribute to a stronger immune system in several ways.
For starters, it’s rich in vitamin C, which may encourage the production of the white blood cells your body needs to fight infection. Getting too little vitamin C in your diet can weaken your immune system, leaving you more prone to infections.
What’s more, rambutan peel has been used for centuries to fight off infections. Test-tube studies show that it contains compounds that may protect your body against viruses and bacterial infections.
However, though some people eat the peel, it’s generally considered inedible.
Rambutan may offer additional health benefits — the best-researched include:
- May reduce cancer risk: A few cells and animal studies found that compounds in rambutan may help prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells.
- May protect against heart disease: One animal study showed that extracts made from rambutan peel reduced total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in diabetic mice.
- May protect against diabetes: Cell and animal studies report that rambutan peel extract may increase insulin sensitivity and reduce fasting blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
How to Eat Rambutan
Rambutan can be consumed raw either from fresh or canned fruit. Its flesh can be used to make juice or jam and can add a pop of sweetness to many recipes.
The sweet, translucent flesh contains a large seed in the middle, which is generally considered inedible. The seed can either be removed with a knife or spat out after eating the flesh.
The flesh can add a sweet flavor to a variety of recipes, ranging from salads and curries to puddings and ice creams.
Tell us in the comment:
1. Have you seen a rambutan before? If so. how did you react?
2. Have you eaten a rambutan yet? If so, how do you like it?
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