The lychee is a small, fresh fruit that is native to parts of southeast Asia, China, and Taiwan. The lychee is noted for its distinct perfume-like taste when eaten raw. Cooking lychees reduces much of the flavour and sweetness, which is why they are predominantly eaten fresh. In the UK, the lychee is a popular item on the menu at Chinese restaurants and takeaways. While lychees are known to have certain health benefits, eating too many lychees can be hazardous.
Lychees, minerals and vitamins
The lychee is a very good source of minerals, vitamins and essential nutrients. Eating 8 to 10 lychee will provide an average adult with the required daily intake of Vitamin C. Lychees are also rich in potassium. In addition, lychees are free of cholesterol and have a very low sodium count. They can also help counter the effects of osteoporosis. For those reasons, the lychee is a nourishing and healthy source of food. But, there are dangers associated with eating lychees.
Lychees and diabetes
Eating lychees can have a positive effect on the human body. Eating too many, on a regular basis, however, may lead to health problems. Like many fruits, lychees have a very high sugar content. For diabetics, too many lychees can significantly increase their blood-sugar levels. No more than 6 or 7 lychees should be eaten by a diabetic in one sitting. It is important that a diabetic checks his or her blood-sugar level after eating lychees.
Food allergies and lychees
Lychees contain proteins, which are the primary causes of food allergies. An allergic reaction occurs when the human immune-system incorrectly interprets a protein as being hostile and invasive. The immune-system combats this situation by flooding the protein with organic compounds called histamines. The result: an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions to eating too many lychees can be mild to severe. Swelling of the lips, an upset stomach, low blood pressure, breathing problems, and faintness can all be signs of a serious allergy to lychees.
Cultural beliefs and lychees
Within Chinese culture, there is a belief that food falls into two specific categories: "hot" and "cold." It is the food-based equivalent of the male and the female, the yin and the yang. The Chinese believe that a balanced intake of the hot and the cold is the key to good health, rather than medication. The lychee is seen as a warming food that can help alleviate toothache and asthma. Excessive amounts of lychee, however, can affect the yin and yang balance, and lead to illness, the Chinese believe.
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