Lychee is truly a “gift for a joyful life,” as it’s translated from Chinese. You know, that small, prickly red fruit that you see growing all over Hawaii? Perhaps you’ve tried it at a local farmers market? Aside from the pain of peeling off the prickly shell, this fruit definitely brings happiness to anyone who eats it.

That is, if you’re brave enough. Lychee has been called a “super fruit” for its many health benefits. But it’s also been called an exotic one because it just looks so weird, so intimidating. How do you eat this thing? Lychee is about the size of a chestnut, but its outer shell can make someone think twice before trying it. Once finally figuring out how to peel it off, you discover a white slippery inside that’s even weirder looking.

The best way to break through the hard outer shell of lychee would be with your thumbnail. Otherwise, you could use your teeth or a knife. While you don’t consume the shell, the inside of the fruit should be eaten very carefully. Its small size makes it easy to choke on; plus, there’s a seed in the middle that you don’t want slipping down your throat! Either way, it’s a succulent fruit that’s worth savoring the flavor.

Going back to lychee bringing joy to one’s life; the fruit contains vitamins and minerals that promote a healthy diet. It’s also a great source of vitamin C, which helps the body fight heart disease and cancer. Two studies conducted in China show that lychee prevents cancer cells from growing because of the flavonoids it contains. At a more day-to-day level, lychee is good for skin and bones and helps those suffering from a common cold, fever or sore throat.

If you haven’t guessed yet, lychee comes from China. The fruit was brought to the Hawaiian Islands during the early 1870s. It usually grows during the summer months and does well in wetter areas, such as in Hilo. Lychee is definitely something you have to try while in the islands; if not the raw fruit, then perhaps in a cocktail or pastry!


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