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Health food of the month - Lychees

February 2013

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Diet & Supplements Index

Health Food of the Month: LycheesWith the Chinese New Year falling in this month, it is topical to look at a popular Chinese fruit - the lychee.

While many of us were first introduced to this sweet and delicate fruit as a typical desert after a Chinese meal, today the lychee is found in most major supermarkets and there are many recipes on line that suggest ideas on how to use this delicious fruit.

Lychee, or its proper name litchi chinensis, is native not only to China but also to India, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia.

It was the Chinese though who first declared the benefits of lychees and it was praised in Chinese literature in the twelfth and eleventh centuries.

Its traditional use in Asia was as a pain reliever and it was thought to be especially good at helping sore throats and to help digestion. It was also thought that lychees helped to increase longevity.

Modern analysis has confirmed that the lychee is a very healthy fruit. It is full of vitamin C and it contains flavanoids with strong antioxidant potential. It also has fatty acids which help the body process soluble vitamins like beta carotene. Lychees can also work as a diuretic.

Recent studies in China have shown that the polyphenolic compounds in lychee can help to inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells and there is hope that the lychee might be able to be used in the prevention and development of breast cancer.

Other sources believe that lychees can relieve the pain from stomach ulcers and is a good source of bowel regulating fibre.

Although lychees are so small, they are packed with nutrients and as demand for these little fruit grows, they are now being commercially produced in America and other areas across the world.



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