Fruits

Longan’s health benefits

The longan , also known as Dragon Eye, is not a fruit well known in Brazil, making it a rather exotic fruit for most of us, Brazilians.

Longan originates in China and is where most of its production in the world is concentrated. Its popular name, “Dragon’s Eye”, is because the pulp of the fruit – rounded, translucent, white and shiny – hides the seed right in its center. What happens is, when you cut the longan pulp in half, it looks a lot like an eyeball.

Longan production in Brazil is still small and São Paulo is its main growing region.

The longan has a brownish and thin bark, but it is also very hard. The pulp is juicy, sweet and soft.

In the East Asian region, where longan is most popular, its connoisseurs use it to prepare soups, desserts, snacks and sweet and sour dishes.

The Chinese also take advantage of its high nutritional value in Chinese herbal medicine.

LONGAN IN BRAZIL

It is in the city of Ribeirão Preto, in São Paulo, where the cultivation of longan stands out. The berry, which is a relative of the lychee , was brought to Brazil by partners Paulo and Mauro Curi, who now produce more than 40 tons a year of the Dragon’s Eye.

The partners brought the first longan seedlings from China about two decades ago, managed to clone them, and today both have more than 1,500 feet of the fruit, which are distributed through their company, Rei da Longan.

LONGAN CULTIVATION (LONGAN, HOW TO PLANT?)

Planting Longan requires patience from anyone who wants to have the tree at home or is looking to profit from the fruit ( the price of longan can exceed R$50.00 per kilo ). The first fruits only start to appear after about 8 years. Another important detail is that the longan tree needs a lot of water to thrive.

In addition to China, other large longan producers are India, Australia and South Africa. In the United States, large areas of cultivation of the Dragon’s Eye are already found.

The fruit appreciates the subtropical climate and moist soil, but does not tolerate intense cold.

Before reaching its adult stage, the longan tree requires special care, which is why conduction pruning – where side shoots, dry and malformed branches are cut – is absolutely necessary.

LONGAN OR PITOMBA OF THE NORTH?

The longan and the northern pitomba are two very similar fruits, at least at first sight. It is common for people to confuse them, as the appearance of both bears similarities both inside and out.

But when we look at them in more detail, and especially when we taste them, the differences become enormous. Want to see it?

While the longan is native to China, far away from our Brazilian lands, the pitomba do Norte is a native fruit of Brazil, originating in the Atlantic Forest.

Longan has the scientific name of Dimocarpus longan , while Northern Pitombeira is treated as Talisia esculenta.

Of course, the differences go far beyond origin and name. The leaves of the longan tree have smooth edges, whereas the pitombeira has elongated leaves at the ends.

The shells of both also have slight differences. The color of the pitomba bark has a more yellowish tone and is quite smooth, while the longan has a brownish color and is more textured.

But it’s on the inside that the biggest differences begin to appear – despite the undeniable similarities. In the longan, the stone is easily detached from the fruit pulp, but in the pitomba it is different. The pitomba pit strongly adheres to the pulp.

Longan is also a sweeter fruit, its flavor resembles that of melon, while the pitomba, however, is acidic, but equally tasty.

LONGAN PROPERTIES

Dragon’s Eye leaves contain antioxidants, such as keratin, which prevent premature aging of cells, as well as antiviral substances that fight cold and flu symptoms. Longan also has calming and toning properties and is rich in vitamins and minerals.

The fruit includes iron in its composition, which helps transport proteins and enzymes throughout the body. Longan also contains potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber and protein, and is a source of vitamins A and C and the B complex.

LONGAN BENEFITS

  1. Antioxidant properties that remove free radicals from the body, reducing wrinkles and skin blemishes.
  2. It improves the health of your skin, leaving it more beautiful and with a healthy color, as it contains good levels of vitamin A – the lack of which leaves the skin dry.
  3. Contain vitamin C, which increases the production of collagen leaving the skin smooth and firm.
  4. Helps in the growth and repair of muscle tissue.
  5. Alleviates the symptoms of colds and flu and even bronchitis and asthma, thanks to its properties of thinning mucus and clearing the bronchi.
  6. It strengthens the immune system and prevents infections and the accumulation of bacteria on the skin.
  7. Helps in the prevention of gastrointestinal diseases.
  8. It has natural anti-inflammatory and digestive system stimulant characteristics. Fights constipation or indigestion and makes the digestive system work properly, preventing serious gastrointestinal problems such as colon cancer, hemorrhoids or gastric ulcers.
  9. It acts on the nervous system and reduces anxiety and nervousness.
  10. Helps to fight insomnia.

RECIPES WITH LONGAN

LONGAN JUICE

What do you need

  • Two spoons of fine oats
  • ten seedless longans
  • three ice cubes
  • Two lemon juice
  • Powdered sweetener if desired

How to make

Mix all ingredients with 300ml of water in the mix or in a blender and then sift.

LONGAN JELLY

What do you nee

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 can of 565 grams of Longan

How to make

  • Mix the gelatin and water and stir. Leave on for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Drain the longans. Collect the syrupy water, about 250 ml.
  • Arrange the longans in the molds.
  • In a saucepan, use low heat to heat water with syrup. Add gelatin and stir well until everything dissolves.
  • Pour into molds. When the liquid has cooled, place the molds in the refrigerator to speed up the gelatine process.

 

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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