What Is Rambutan Fruit? (Origin, Nutrition and Benefits)

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Last updated: March 29, 2022

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 nutritional profile.

Let’s have a closer look at the tropical rambutan fruit, its origins, how to eat it, where to find it, and also what its nutritional benefits are.

What Is Rambutan Fruit?

So, what exactly 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 known as soapberry.

This tropical tree is native to Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia, and it produces a small, round fruit, which goes by the same name.

Rambutan tree
Rambutan tree

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.

Where Does the Name Come From?

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 fruit
Rambutan fruit

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.

This has made the fruit perhaps a bit more common and a bit easier to find than other tropical fruits, such as kiwano fruit, durian and dragon fruit.

How to Eat a Rambutan?

While the rambutan fruit may look a bit weird, cutting and eating it is a pretty straightforward process:

  1. Pick a ripe rambutan which is typically red in color.
  2. Gently pierce through the skin in the middle with a knife.
  3. Peel the skin off from one side of the fruit.
  4. Use your fingers to squeeze out the flesh.
  5. 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 eaten.

Rambutan fruits in bowl
Rambutan fruits in bowl

The interesting thing is that both the outer skin and seeds of rambutans are actually quite nutrient-rich. But sadly, as mentioned, they are definitely not suitable for consumption.

Where to Buy Rambutans?

This is of course very much dependent on where you live, but outside Asia, rambutan fruits, and also lychees, can mostly be found in specialty grocery stores, or otherwise at fruit markets.

Nutritional Profile of Rambutan Fruit

See below table for an abstract of the nutritional profile of 100 grams worth of canned rambutan fruit. The reason it’s the canned version is because that was the only one available in the USDA database.

Peeled rambutans
Peeled rambutans

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)
Water 78 g
Energy 82 kcal
Protein 0.65 g
Fat 0.21 g
Carbohydrates 20.9 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

Benefits of Eating Rambutan Fruit

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 and diet.

At the end of the day, it’s just another fruit that is both nutritious and delicious, but it is by no means a fruit that stands out as super healthy.

With that in mind, let’s have a look at some of the nutritional health benefits that rambutan fruit can offer us.

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.

Rambutan fruit cut in half
Peeled rambutan

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.

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.

As mentioned, rambutan is essentially just another fruit, and all of its minerals and vitamins can also be found in other fruits and vegetables. In other words, there are no specific nutritional benefits associated with the rambutan fruit.

Final Thoughts

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 delicious treat.

Like so many other exotic fruits, the rambutan fruit, with its sweet flavor and pleasantly soft texture, is an absolute delight.


Discover the delicious rambutan fruit (nutrition and benefits)

Donna Harrison

I created Healthy Food Tribe because I am passionate about discovering new foods and learning everything about them. I am also a smoothie fanatic and I document all my favorite recipes here on my blog.

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