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Getting to know the longan and its benefits

Updated on October 25, 2013
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By Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin

Living in the tropics sometimes means being burdened with sore throats and sensations of being overheated, so consuming fruits that cool the body’s systems and rejuvenate are somewhat necessary.

If you do not already know this little fellow, let me introduce the longan, a small fruit that is endearing and juicy indeed. Having drunk many longan based teas and chewed much of the fruit, I can say nothing else but that it is good for you.

Their sheer sweetness will leave anyone reaching for these delectable beauties. Easily consumed, it has untold benefits for health.

Eating and peeling them is messy, but undoubtedly fun!

What is the longan?

A member of the soapberry family, the longan fruit is found growing in abundance in the indomalayan ecozone. The zone extends from Afghanistan through the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia to lowland southern China, through the islands of indonesia. The tropical forests that grow in the area are dominated by trees that belonging to the dipterocarp family, of which the longan tree is a member.

The longan, literally translated as the “eye of the dragon” because it resembles an eyeball when the shell of the fruit is removed. The black seed shines through its translucent flesh. The texture of the seed resembles enamel and is lacquered black.

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Uses of the longan fruit

This may sound a tad diabolical but I assure that there is sweetness to be enjoyed. The “dragon’s eye” can definitely be sampled in many ways.

Whichever of these is chosen promises to satisfy the sense of taste.

Eaten as is

The longan fruit is most often shelled and enjoyed as is. It is easy to peel the shell of and just pop the fruit in the mouth.

  • Use a blunt object to poke a hole in the shell.

  • Pressing on the hole, use the fingers to push the shell apart gently.

  • Enjoy the fruit!

Bubble tea

Bubble tea is a popular drink enjoyed in Taiwan and now, in many parts of Asia. The juice of the longan is sometimes used to make the syrup used to flavor the tea. It is drunk accompanied by tapioca “bubbles” or “pearls” as more commonly known.

The tea does leave one feeling quite filled after drinking!

Longan,white fungus and gingko

The longan fruit,white fungus and gingko nuts are sometimes enjoyed together in a dessert known as ‘chng tng’.

No, no, there is no need to be frightened by the word ‘fungus’. The dessert, consumed hot, is a delectable, sweet treat after a meal.

As tea, with red dates

Longans can also be enjoyed with red dates in tea.

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The benefits of longans

Like many other fruits,the longan has some very amazing benefits for health. Chewing on a few certainly helps to promote wellness in many ways.

An anti-depressant

Eating longans soothe the nerves and are recommended as anti-depressants. They have the effect of relaxing the nerves and facilitating their functions. They reduce fatigue, neurosis and are proven to reduce insomnia and other sleeping disorders.

Healing

A longan a day really keeps the doctor away. They improve wound healing capability, working together with polyphenols to combat free radicals within the body. They thus prevent the damaging of cells.

Adding longan to the diet can thus help to reduce the risk of cancer, with its healthy dose of polyphenols and Vitamin C.

Improves circulation

The longan improves circulation and increases the assimilation of iron in the body. This prevents anemia.

Enhances energy

Being a “qi tonic” (“qi” being the Chinese word for “energy”), the longan boosts long term energy.

It alleviates sleeplessness, memory lapse and anxiety, which drain energy.

Weight management

Low in fats and calories, this is a healthy option for those who want to eliminate fat from the body. The complex carbohydrate contained in the longan also enhances stamina and help as appetite suppressants. A longan only contains 35 calories, making it an ideal contribution to a low calorie diet.

USDA Health chart-longans

Nutrient
Unit
1 Value per 100.0g
1.0 fruit without refuse
Proximates
 
 
3.2g
Water
g
82.75
2.65
Energy
kcal
60
2
Protein
g
1.31
0.04
Total lipid (fat)
g
0.1
0
Carbohydrate, by difference
g
15.14
0.48
Fiber, total dietary
g
1.1
0
Minerals
 
 
 
Calcium, Ca
mg
1
0
Iron, Fe
mg
0.13
0
Magnesium, Mg
mg
10
0
Phosphorus, P
mg
21
1
Potassium, K
mg
266
9
Sodium, Na
mg
0
0
Zinc, Zn
mg
0.05
0
Vitamins
 
 
 
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid
mg
84
2.7
Thiamin
mg
0.031
0.001
Riboflavin
mg
0.14
0.004
Niacin
mg
0.3
0.01
Vitamin B-12
mg
0
0
Lipids
 
 
 
Cholesterol
mg
0
0
Source: United States Department of Agriculture

Growing longans

A source of Vitamin C

The longan is a source of Vitamin C, serving as protection from the common cold. It boosts the immune system and assists in the soaking up of iron.

Strengthens the heart

By reducing stress and fatigue, the longan boosts the functions of the heart. It is an effective stimulant for the spleen and facilitates the circulation of the blood, decreasing the risk of strokes.

Anti-aging

Longans have anti-aging properties that are proven to improve the quality of one’s skin. It especially enhances the skin around the eyes and keeps the skin and gums in good condition.

Counteracts heavy sweating

Those who find that they tend to perspire a lot might seriously consider consuming a few longans. Longan seeds contain saponin, tamin and fat that draws the skins tissue together, closing pores and stopping secretion from sweat glands.

Treats snake bites

The longan seed has been proven to treat snake bites. It has been found that pressing it against the bite helps to absorb venom and thus cure it.

Hair fall

The saponin mentioned earlier is also good for hair fall and can be used as an ingredient in shampoo.

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Side effects of eating the longan fruit

Allergies

Organizations such as the Hong Kong Center for Food Safety advise caution when eating longans because they are usually treated with sulfur dioxide, which can produce allergic reactions.

Anyone with allergies will state that these can be hard to spot. If you notice that you are having trouble breathing after eating longans, do consult a doctor straight away.

Heat inducing

Having dry or diuretic effects, the longan fruit can be rather warm. Taking too much longan can cause a dry or itchy throat.

Peeling and eating a longan

Epulaeryu

I attach an epulaeryu to the longan, one of my favorite fruits. I love the fruit eaten as is, in teas or as a cool bubble tea drink.

An epulaeryu, first composed by Joseph Spence Sr, was first devised when he went on travels to many parts of the world, including Europe and the Mediterranean, in a quest for good eats. He formulated the epulaeryu as a tribute to some of his favorite foods.

An epulaeryu has 33 syllables, and has seven syllables in the first line, 5 in the second, 7 in the third and so on in a structure that follows:

7-5-7-5-5-3-1

It usually ends with an exclamation to indicate the author’s favorite food.

Here is my tribute to the “dragon’s eye” or longan.

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The dragon’s eye

The juicy eye of sweetness

Leaves joy on the tongue

A staying sense of wellness

Of freshness to be sung

Pale flesh transparent

Resplendent,

bliss!

Conclusion

Asian markets might carry the longan.Experience the sweetness of the fruit and benefits for health!

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    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      On the benefits of longans.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

      This looks really cool. I've never heard of it before but will look for it next time I go to an Asian market. They almost look a bit likes grapes.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you, Glim. Do look for it in an Asian market! Might be bunches available when in season.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      Never heard of this fruit, but loved learning more here Michelle and sounds like it has many benefits when consumed. Definitely would love to try to thanks Michelle!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, J9!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I never heard of the longan! This fruit looks very interesting! Is it from the same family as the lychees? When I see your second picture, it seems that both fruit have a hard skin, white fruit and black pit. Is the taste of the longan similar of the lychee?

      Interesting to know that it has great properties for health! I should go in the big Chinese T & T supermarket near my place to find some logan!

      Thank you for sharing, Michelle!

      Voted up, useful and interesting!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Just wow! I have never eaten this but you can believe I will be hunting it now! You did a great job selling it, or letting it sell itself! Up and sharing.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Kay Badder 3 years ago from USA

      I've never seen these available here. I'll watch for it.

    • idigwebsites profile image

      idigwebsites 3 years ago from United States

      I've tasted that once and it's not bad. It is indeed sweet. :)

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 3 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Oh, I love longan and I miss it. We have it here up north (imported, of course from Asia) but kind of pricey.

      Great, useful hub. Sharing the goodness...cheers!

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 3 years ago from Georgia country

      This fruit looks similar to a lychee. I have never tried a longan before. I would like to try it. Thank you for sharing this very interesting, useful and well presented hub. As a health geek I'm always interested in learning about new healthy foods.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. I didn't know any of this

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Do try to find it there, kidscrafts! You'll enjoy them!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Jackie! It's a great fruit! Thanks for sharing.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Barbara.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, it is! Thanks, idigwebsites!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Cristina! Oopsy, that would be expensive! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      It is from the lychee family,Janet. Do try it, it is very sweet.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Hatter!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Getting to know the longan and its benefits informative, useful, and most interesting about another unique fruit from you.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Michele, great hub, loved the poem! The longan looks like a very interesting fruit, is it the same as lychee? either way, a very useful little fruit.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, DDE!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, comes from the same family of fruits as the lychee, Jo! Try it if you can find it, you'll love it!

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