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In my never ending quest to discover as many exotic fruits as possible, it was now time for me to dive a little deeper into the rambutan fruit.
This tiny fruit with a peculiar outer layer and with soft, creamy flesh inside, not only tastes delicious, it also has an interesting nutrition profile.
Let’s have a closer look at what the tropical rambutan fruit is, how to eat it, where to find it, and also what its nutritional health benefits are.
What Is Rambutan Fruit?
First things first, what the heck is a rambutan fruit? If you’re reading this article, chances are you may have never eaten or seen one before. But don’t worry, you’re not alone!
Rambutan is a tropical tree in the Sapindaceae family of flowering plants and trees (also know as soapberry), native to Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia. The tree produces a small, round fruit, which goes by the same name.
The fruit is very similar to, and is closely related to, lychee and longan fruit. The flesh inside these fruits specifically has a lot of similarities, with a typical light color, a soft and creamy texture, and a seed in the middle.
The name rambutan is derived from the Malay word rambut, which means “hairy”, and it’s no surprise why the fruit was given this name. Rambutan fruit has a unique appearance, with a typically red colored, hairy shell.
Rambutan thrives in tropical climates, and the fruit is now grown in various other parts of the world, such as Africa, Oceania and Central America.
How to Eat Rambutan Fruit?
While the rambutan fruit may look a bit weird, cutting and eating it is a pretty straightforward exercise:
- Pick a ripe rambutan which is typically red in color
- Gently pierce through the skin in the middle with a knife
- Peel the skin off from one side of the fruit
- Use your fingers to squeeze out the flesh
- Eat the flesh without the seed
What Does Rambutan Taste Like?
Rambutan fruit and lychee not only look similar, they also taste very similar.
The first thing you’ll notice when you eat the flesh of rambutan fruit is its delicious sweet flavor, with a slightly sour aftertaste. The fruit also has a high water content, which makes the flesh juicy, without falling apart.
The sweet taste in combination with the soft texture of the flesh, makes rambutan fruit a real tropical treat!
What About the Seeds?
The seeds in rambutan fruits should not be consumed, as they are known to have toxic elements. In addition to the seed, the skin should also not be consumed.
The interesting thing is that both the outer skin and seeds of rambutans are actually quite nutrient-rich. But sadly, as mentioned, they are not suitable for consumption.
Where to Buy Rambutan?
This is of course very much dependent on where you live, but outside Asia, rambutan fruits, and also lychees, can quite often be found in specialty grovery stores.
Rambutan fruit is also available online, at Amazon for example.
Nutritional Profile of Rambutan Fruit
See below table for an abstract of the nutritional profile of 100 g worth of canned rambutan fruit. The reason it’s the canned version is because that was the only one available in the USDA database.
As you can notice, like most fruits, rambutan is an excellent source of vitamin C, as well as copper, manganese, iron, and certain B-vitamins.
Also note that the carbohydrates content is reasonably high (albeit impacted by the fact that it’s canned), which is not surprising considering the sweet taste of rambutan fruit.
|Rambutan Nutritional Profile (Canned syrup pack – 100 g)|
|>> Dietary fiber||0.9 g|
|Calcium||22 mg (2% DV)|
|Copper||0.066 mg (4% DV)|
|Iron||0.35 mg (3% DV)|
|Magnesium||7 mg (2% DV)|
|Manganese||0.343 mg (16% DV)|
|Phosphorus||9 mg (1% DV)|
|Potassium||42 mg (1% DV)|
|Sodium||11 mg (1% DV)|
|Zinc||0.08 mg (1% DV)|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||0.013 mg (1% DV)|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.022 mg (2% DV)|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||1.352 mg (9% DV)|
|Vitamin B6||0.02 mg (2% DV)|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||8 µg (2%)|
|Vitamin C||4.9 mg (6%)|
|Sources: USDA, Wikipedia|
Rambutan Fruit Health Benefits
Just like so many other fruits, the rambutan is of course good for you. But it certainly isn’t a super food, or a power food, that you should start eating right now in order to improve your health.
At the end of the day, it’s just another fruit that is both nutritious and delicious, but it is by no means a miracle food.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at some of the health benefits that rambutan fruit has to offer.
1. Source of Vitamin C
Like most fruits, rambutans are a great source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient that supports a number of important functions in the human body.
Also known as L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and helps to strengthen our immune system.
Vitamin C also plays an important role in the synthesis of collagen, an essential component of connective tissue, which plays a vital role in wound healing.
2. Source of Manganese
Manganese is an essential mineral which contributes to several bodily functions, such as the metabolism of amino acids, cholesterol, glucose, and carbohydrates.
It also plays a role in bone formation, blood clotting, and reducing inflammation.
Because the human body cannot produce manganese, it is dependent on food intake in order to store manganese in the liver, bones, pancreas, kidneys and brain.
3. Source of Copper
Copper is a trace mineral that is involved in many of the natural processes in the body, such as making red blood cells, maintaining nerve cells, maintaining healthy bones, and supporting the immune system.
While copper deficiency is rare, low copper levels have been linked to high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Excited about rambutan fruit as much as I am? What I like most about it is that when I eat it, it really does feel like I’m eating a special, tropical fruit.
Like so many other exotic fruits, the rambutan fruit is a real treat, with its sweet flavor and pleasantly soft texture.
I don’t see it as a power food at all though, because as healthy as rambutan fruit may be, it really is just another nutritious fruit that happens to taste deliciously refreshing.