Lychee Benefits, Nutrition
October 30, 2011

The lychee (Litchi chinensis, leechi, litchi, laichi, lichu, lizhi) is the sole member of the genus Litchi in the soapberry
family, Sapindaceae. It is a tropical and subtropical fruit tree native to Southeast Asia, and now it appears in many parts
of the world. The fresh fruit has a "delicate, whitish pulp" with a "perfume" flavor.

Litchi chinensis is an evergreen tree that is frequently less than 10 m (33 ft) tall. Fruits mature in 80–112 days,
depending on climate, location, and cultivar. The thin, tough inedible skin is green when immature, ripening to red or
pink-red, and is smooth or covered with small sharp protuberances.

Lychee Nutrition
Lycheeis a good source of Vitamin C. On average nine lychee fruits would meet an adult’s daily recommended Vitamin
C requirement. It also contains sugar, copper, phosphorus, and potassium. Like other plant-based foods, lychees are
low in saturated fat and sodium and are cholesterol free. Lychees have moderate amounts of polyphenols. On the
phenolic composition, flavan-3-ol monomers and dimers were the major found compounds representing about 87.0% of
the phenolic compounds that declined with storage or browning. Cyanidin-3-glucoside was a major anthocyanin and
represented 91.9% of anthocyanins. It also declined with storage or browning. Small amounts of malvidin-3-glucoside
were also found.

Lychee Benefits
Lychee benefits may be many. But, there are not many research studies have been reported on its potential health
benefits. In this section, I highlight a few interesting research findings on lychee benefits.

Lychee may have benefits of liver protection. Male Wistar albino rats were intraperitoneally injected (ip) with CCl(4) (2
ml/kg), then were orally administered (po) with silymarin (100mg/kg), and Gimjeng or Chakapat lychee (Litchi chinensis
Sonn.) extracts (100 and 500 mg/kg). After ten days, the rats were sacrificed and their livers were examined.
Administration of CCl(4) in rats elevated the serum GPT, GOT, and ALP level whereas silymarin, Gimjeng and lychee
extracts prevented these increases significantly. Significant decrease of apoptotic cells together with restoration of
morphological changes confirmed the hepatoprotective effect in the CCl(4)-induced rats pretreated with the extracts. [1]

Lipid Profiles
Lychee may have benefits of lipid-lowering effects. Oligonol, a low-molecular polyphenol derived from lychee fruit, was
orally administered at 10 or 20 mg per kg body weight per d for 8 weeks to db/db mice, and its effects were compared
with placebo in mice. In the oligonol-administered group, there were significant reductions of reactive oxygen species
(ROS), lipid peroxidation, and certain lipid concentrations in both the serum and liver. The present results suggest that
oligonol has protective effects against ROS-related inflammation and excess lipid deposition in the type 2 diabetic liver.

In a study, lychee-treated cells had lower triglyceride concentrations, less lipid accumulation and a smaller lipid droplet
size. Rats given a single dose of 50 or 100 mg/kg lychee fruit extract had significant increases in plasma (-)-
epicatechin, 3'-O-methyl-(-)-epicatechin, and (+)-catechin levels. 7-month-old mice fed a 200mg/kg lychee fruit extract
diet for 10 months showed a significant decrease in glucose, triglyceride and lipid peroxide levels compared with mice
fed a control diet. [6] Thus, lychee fruit extract may benefit people at risk of high lipid levels or even metabolic

The lychee polyphenol, oligonol, at concentration of more than 313 microg/ml inhibited the mycelial growth of Candida
albicans in vitro. When 50 microl of oligonol (20 mg/ml ) was administered three times into the oral cavity of orally
Candida-infected mice, the number of viable Candida cells in the oral cavity was reduced significantly and the score of
lesions on the tongue recovered on day 2. [3] This lychee fruit polyphenol, was found to have anti-influenza effects by
inhibiting phosphorylation of extracellular-signal-regulated kinases. [5]

Oligonol, a lychee compound, was orally administered at 10 or 20 mg/kg body weight per d for 8 weeks to db/db mice
with type 2 diabetes, and its effects were compared with those of the vehicle in db/db and m/m (misty, non-diabetic)
mice. A significant reduction in the serum lipid concentration, reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lipid peroxidation, as
well as improvements in renal function parameters was found. In addition, this lychee compound treatment significantly
decreased ROS levels and lipid peroxidation in the kidney. It would act as a regulator in the inflammatory response of
type 2 diabetes; lychee may benefit people at risk of diabetes. [4]

Note. Most are animal-studies; clinical studies are needed to prove lychee benefit claims.

1.. Bhoopat L, et al, Hepatoprotective effects of lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.): a combination of antioxidant and anti-
apoptotic activities. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jun 14;136(1):55-66 2. Noh JS, et al, Treatment with oligonol, a low-
molecular polyphenol derived from lychee fruit, attenuates diabetes-induced hepatic damage through regulation of
oxidative stress and lipid metabolism. Br J Nutr. 2011 Oct;106(7):1013-22. 3. Hayama K, et al, Therapeutic effect of
oligonol, a low-molecular polyphenol formulation derived from lychee fruits on murine oral candidiasis Nihon Ishinkin
Gakkai Zasshi. 2010;51(3):137-42. 4. Noh JS, et al, Hypolipidaemic and antioxidative effects of oligonol, a low-
molecular-weight polyphenol derived from lychee fruit, on renal damage in type 2 diabetic mice. Br J Nutr. 2010 Oct;104
(8):1120-8. 5. Gangehei L, et al, Oligonol a low molecular weight polyphenol of lychee fruit extract inhibits proliferation
of influenza virus by blocking reactive oxygen species-dependent ERK phosphorylation. Phytomedicine. 2010 Nov;17
(13):1047-56. [6] Kalgaonkar S, et al, Bioactivity of a flavanol-rich lychee fruit extract in adipocytes and its effects on
oxidant defense and indices of metabolic syndrome in animal models. Phytother Res. 2010

Source of Information
1. October 30, 2011
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