Lychee are tropical fruits native to China. The heart-shaped fruits have thin, tough, inedible rinds that peel off to reveal juicy, whitish flesh surrounding hard, brown pits. Lychee are very sweet and have a subtle, perfumed taste. The fresh fruit is available seasonally in the Fall or canned the rest of the year. Lychee are grown domestically in Hawaii and Florida. They are low in fat and sodium and derive most of their calories from sugar.
Lychee fruit is a good source of vitamin C. A 1-cup serving provides more than 100 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. Vitamin C helps to prevent bleeding, heal wounds and build collagen. The vitamin may also contribute to cardiovascular health and general life expectancy. Consuming large amounts of vitamin C is often recommended to prevent and treat minor infections such as the common cold, but study results are mixed, according to the Office of Dietary supplements.
Lychee are also a source of B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, B-6 and folate. B vitamins help your body extract energy from the food you eat. They are also important for the formation of red blood cells. Adequate folate intake is necessary for your body to produce new cells and is critical to prevent birth defects. Women of child-bearing age should get 400 micrograms of folate daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A cup of lychee fruit provides 27 micrograms of folate.
Lychee are also a good source of potassium, an electrolyte that helps to maintain fluid balance, contract muscles and control blood pressure. Potassium reduces blood pressure by relieving tension in the walls of your blood vessels and helping your body to excrete excess sodium, according to the American Heart Association. A cup of lychee fruit provides 325 of the 4,700 milligrams that your body needs daily.
Polyphenols are naturally occurring chemicals that act as antioxidants. They have potential to counter the effects of aging and to prevent cancer, diabetes and heart disease. A study published in the "Journal of Nutrition" in 2006 found that lychee have the second-highest concentration of polyphenols of any fruit tested.