Longan looks like a berry or a grape and tastes mildly juicy and sweet. Longan is classified within the larger group of soapberries, which is composed of other exotic fruits, such as lychee, ackee, salt lime, and guarana, among others. It is commonly called the dragon’s eye fruit because the flesh of the fruit is pale white with a black seed right in the middle. Native to Southern Asia, longan has been cultivated and harvested for generations, and its first recorded use is actually more than 2,000 years ago. It has only recently been introduced to the rest of the world and is now experiencing another resurgence in popularity as a health food. As the fruit ripens, the outer layer of skin forms into a hardened shell, so that when they are harvested, the fruit can easily be freed from the shell. Before eating the inner part of the fruit, the seed should be removed, but the essential oils of these seeds are often used for medicinal purposes.
Benefits of longan
- Skin Care – Vitamin C, present in high amounts in longan, is vital for collagen synthesis, which keeps the skin firm and healthy. It provides antioxidant protection against ultraviolet radiation and clears out the oxidative stress in the body system. In traditional Chinese medicine, longan soup is a time-tested recipe known to add luster and suppleness to the skin.
- Anti-aging – Longan can help eliminate wrinkles, age spots, as well as blemishes and the appearance of scars.The flesh of the fruit contains vitamins B and C as well as antioxidants, which have anti-aging properties and minimize dryness, as well as the cracking and peeling of skin.
- Boosts Libido – Longan tonics have been popular since time immemorial with Chinese women to increase their sensuality and appearance. The fruit helps to increase energy and stave off fatigue.
- Fights Anxiety – The dried berry has a calming effect and is used to treat anxiety and sleeplessness. In traditional Chinese medicine, longan tea made by steeping Chinese red dates and dried longans in hot water, which helps to reduce anxiety as well as warm the body in winter months.
- Treats Insomnia – In a study, it was found that longan extract has anxiolytic activity, which prolonged sleep time in people. The flesh of the fruit and tissues in its seeds are often used in Chinese tonics to enhance calmness and induce deep, rejuvenating sleep.
- Blood Tonic – There are trace amounts of iron in longan, which can help to stimulate the production of red blood cells and boost circulation. With proper blood flow, one will have resources delivered to key parts of the body, as well as oxygen, which can increase energy and prevent the symptoms of anemia.
- Promotes Weight Loss – Due to the extremely low number of calories found in longan, it is extremely effective in losing weight. The nutrient density can help to suppress the appetite, despite being able to eat as many of these fruits as one wants without any real fear of compromising on caloric intake.
- Increases Energy – In Chinese traditional medicine, it was believed that longan could help to balance the Qi, which can improve energy levels, prevent chronic disease, reduce dizziness and boost the metabolism. Millions of anecdotal reports from China confirm the energy-boosting potential of this fruit.
- Controls Blood Pressure – Potassium, present in longan, has been directly linked to lowering blood pressure. The mineral is a vasodilator, which means that it can release the tension in the blood vessels and arteries, which can ultimately protect the cardiovascular system and reduce risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
- Neuroprotection – Research has found that longan can help to balance the electrolytes in the body, and this can, in turn, help to improve the function of the nervous system. The electrical signals required for every action in the body must pass through the electrolytes, so this fruit can help overall function and even muscle movement.
- Strengthens Immunity -Longan, being a rich source of vitamin C, can give a boost to the immune system in addition to increasing antioxidant activities.
- Speeds-up Healing – Having a high level of vitamin C also means that this fruit can help in the production of collagen, which is essential for every tissue, cell or muscle in the body. Proper levels of collagen mean that repair can happen effectively and efficiently.
- Prevents Chronic Diseases – Despite having a minimal amount of antioxidants, they can still help to eliminate free radicals and neutralize their impact within the body. This can help prevent the mutation of healthy cells, and lower the risk of developing chronic diseases.
- Aids in Digestion – Dried and fresh longans have a high fiber content that helps bulk up the stool and promote peristaltic motion. It helps to pass bowel movements and prevent symptoms of constipation, indigestion, diarrhea, bloating, cramping, and general stomach upset, while also improving nutrient uptake efficiency.
- Improves Memory – Numerous research studies have linked the consumption of longan with improved cognitive abilities, particularly those relating to the formation and retention of memory.
- Treats Snake Bites – In Vietnam, the seed of the fruit is commonly used to treat snakebites and is usually pressed against the infected area. It contains saponin, which has the ability to absorb venom.
- Vision Health – B vitamins, especially B6, B12, and folic acid present in this tropical fruit lowers the chances of age-related macular degeneration and helps maintain vision health. 
- Dental Care – Longan abundant in B vitamins is also known to keep the teeth and gums in good condition.
Adding longans to your diet
Longans can be consumed fresh just as it is or can be made into teas or added to shakes, smoothies, etc.
Longans are available during summer season and can be consumed anytime of the day.
Despite the many potential benefits of longan, there are some side effects, such as an increased risk of gastrointestinal distress and complications in pregnancy.
Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, speak with your doctor before adding this exotic fruit to your diet, as it can have stimulatory effects on the body, potentially even menstruation, which could complicate your pregnancy.
Stomach Upset: If you have a sensitive stomach or are experiencing any sort of stomach upset, avoid this fruit, as it can exacerbate these effects, resulting in anything from diarrhea and vomiting to cramping and constipation.
Recipe for Longan smoothie
1 cup coconut milk (or water)
Discard the hard outer shell and seed of the longan.
In a blender, make a smooth puree of the longans.
Break the banana into smaller pieces and add to blender, and pour in coconut milk or water.
Blend until smooth. Refrigerate, if you prefer, before serving.
Recipe for Longan jelly
4 servings, Time – 60 mins
1 and 1/2 tbsp gelatin
2 tbsp water
1 can longans (I used a 565 grams can)
Mix gelatin and water and stir. Leave it for 5 – 10 minutes.
Drain the longans. Collect the syrupy water, about 250 ml.
Arrange the longans in the molds.
In a pan, use low heat to warm the syrupy water. Add the gelatin and stir well until it all dissolves.
Pour into molds. When the liquid has cooled, put the molds in the fridge to hasten the jellying process.
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