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Rambutan Fruit: Nutrition Facts, Health Benefits and Culinary Uses

Rambutan Fruit Health Benefits

With its hairy exterior, the rambutan fruit (Nephelium lappaceum) may appear intimidating at first. However, once you get over your fear and give this exotic fruit a chance, your taste buds will surely thank you. The juicy flesh that hides underneath the hairy skin boasts a wonderfully fresh flavor, similar to grapes and lychees. Culinary aspects aside, rambutans also provide some interesting nutritional and health benefits. In this article, we look at the health benefits of rambutans, plus provide a comprehensive nutrient facts chart detailing the nutritional composition of these exotic goodies. At the end of this write-up, you'll also find a couple of practical tips on how to choose and use rambutans.

Health Benefits of Rambutans

A 100-gram (3.5 oz) serving of fresh rambutan pulp provides about 40 milligrams of vitamin C, which corresponds to 66% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin C. Vitamin C is perhaps best known as a dietary remedy for the common cold and flu, but it also provides a number of other health benefits. When you eat rambutans or other foods that are rich vitamin C, you increase your body's natural ability to flush out heavy metals and other toxins as well as to deal with stress. Vitamin C also promotes healthy, youthful skin by scavenging free radicals and by enhancing your body's ability to produce new collagen.

Compared with most other fruits, rambutans are also a good source of copper. Although your body require only a small amount of copper, this trace mineral is crucial for the proper functioning of your body. A copper deficiency may lead, for example, to anemia, ruptures in blood vessels, bone and joint problems, elevated cholesterol levels, frequent infections, and chronic fatigue. Copper is also crucial for healthy hair growth, and foods rich in copper, such as rambutans, may help prevent hair loss, intensify hair color, and prevent premature graying of hair.

Chart: Nutrition Facts for Raw Rambutan Pulp

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition facts for rambutan pulp (Nephelium lappaceum) are provided per 100 grams in the chart below. The nutrition facts provided below include both the absolute amount and the percent daily value for each nutrient.

Nutrient Amount per 100 g % Daily Value Comment
Carotene 0 mcg 0%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 0.02 mg 1 %
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.06 mg 4 %
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 0.78 mg 4 %
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) 39.5 mg 66 % A wonderful source of vitamin C
Calcium (Ca) 7.9 mg 1 %
Copper (Cu) 0.18 mg 9 % A good source of copper compared with other fruit
Iron (Fe) 0.48 mg 3 %
Magnesium (Mg) 17.4 mg 4 %
Manganese (Mn) 0.19 mg 10 %
Phosphorus (P) 16.5 mg 2 %
Potassium (K) 179.7 mg 5 % Not a particularly good source of potassium compared with other fruit
Sodium (Na) 6.3 mg 0 %
Zinc (Zn) 0.21 mg 1 %

The absolute amounts in the nutrition facts table above are averages calculated by healwithfood.org based on two primary sources: 1) 'Ascorbic acid and mineral composition of longan (Dimocarpus longan), lychee (Litchi chinensis) and rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) cultivars grown in Hawaii' by Marisa M Wall, Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 19 (2006) 655-663, 2) 'Vitamins Composition of Pulp, Seed and Rind of Fresh and Dry Rambutan Nephelium Lappaceum and Squash Cucurbita pepo'L' by Johnson et al, International Journal of Science and Technology, Volume 2, No. 1, January, 2013.
The percent daily values or %DV above have been calculated by healwithfood.org and are based on recommendations for a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be different depending on your individual needs.

How to Select and Eat Rambutans

Although rambutans only grow in tropical regions such as Hawaii, Puerto Rica, Costa Rica, Panama, and Southeast Asia, many Asian markets and even some large grocery stores in North America and the UK sell these nutritional powerhouse fruits. If you're able to find rambutans that are still attached to the branch, go for them as they are thought to have higher culinary and nutritional value than rambutans that have been separated from the branch.

To preserve most of its flavor and nutritional value, the rambutan fruit is best eaten raw. Simply peel off the hairy skin and pop the white juicy flesh into your mouth. But be careful not to eat the bitter seed that is hidden inside the white flesh.

You can also use peeled and pitted rambutans in smoothies and fruit salads, for example as a substitute for lychees. If you have a juicer at home, rambutan juice spiced up with a bit of cinnamon or vanilla is also worth a try.

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