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Dragon Foods: Longan Fruit

Dragon Foods: Longan Fruit

, by Web Admin, 6 min reading time

Dragon Foods: Longan Fruit 龍眼 In honor of the Year of the Dragon, we are celebrating Dragon themed foods and medicines. The Chinese Dragon is known for Power, Energy, Resilience and Nobility. Dragon foods build strength, immunity and beauty. A star among Chinese fruits is Longan. 

In honor of the Year of the Dragon, we are celebrating Dragon themed foods and medicines. The Chinese Dragon is known for Power, Energy, Resilience and Nobility. Dragon foods build strength, immunity and beauty. A star among Chinese fruits is Longan

Longan: Dragon’s Eye Fruit 

The longan (from Cantonese lùhng-ngáahn 龍眼, literally 'dragon eye'), resembles an eyeball when its fruit is shelled (the black seed shows through the translucent flesh like a pupil and iris. Longan is a tropical fruit of the soapberry family similar to lychee. It is less aromatic and has a hint of musky flavor. 

Longan fruits are native to China and regions of Southeast Asia, where the fruit trees have been growing wild for thousands of years. The ancient fruits were first found in the regions of Guangxi, Fujian, Sichuan, and Guandong, China, and were also reported to have been found in lowland and mountainous areas spanning from India to China. Experts believe the earliest record of Longan can be traced back to 200 BCE. The record indicated that the emperor had requested Longan and lychee trees to be planted in the Shaanxi Palace gardens during the Han dynasty. Longan fruits were extensively grown and produced throughout China, later spreading along trade routes and merchant ships into Europe in the late 1700s and Australia in the mid-1800s.

Longan’s Vitamin C

Longan is a source of vitamin C. When that cut on your finger finally heals, you can thank vitamin C which is vital for tissue health and promotes healing of cuts and wounds. It also helps the body to create collagen that is part of muscles, cartilage, skin, bones, and almost every other part of the body. Vitamin C helps teeth and gums stay healthy too.  


Longan and Heart Health

Studies suggest that because vitamin C is an antioxidant, it can contribute to heart health. It may reduce stiffening of the arteries. Vitamin C supplements do not seem to have this effect. So getting vitamin C from plant sources like longan, appears to be a better path to heart health. Longan also contains a good amount of potassium, which helps control blood pressure. Many nutritionists consider potassium an under-consumed nutrient, with most Americans getting only about half the recommended amount. Ancient humans consumed about 16 times more potassium than sodium, but Americans today take in twice as much sodium as potassium. Some scientists believe this imbalance is one reason so many people have high blood pressure. Because elevated blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke, those with adequate potassium in their diet have a lowered risk of stroke.   


Longan contains small amounts of several vitamins and minerals and is a valuable source of:  

  • Vitamin C

  • Potassium

  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2 )

Longan fruit is known for its potential to boost the immune system, improve skin health due to its antioxidant properties, aid in digestion, and provide a natural energy boost.


Long Yan Rou in TCM

Longan (Euphoria longan) is more than a delicious dried fruit. It is used in Chinese medicine as a blood tonic, to build energy (Qi), calm the mind, strengthen the Spleen, tonify the Qi of the heart, and to add luster and beauty to the skin. Its Chinese name is Long Yan Rou.


How Much to Eat

Ten longans a day is a good amount to eat most of the time. If your body temperature is high, you should avoid excess consumption. But, since it's a good source of vitamin C and iron, most people can eat it every day, but not too excess. People with diabetes and women who are pregnant need to be more careful.


Apart from being eaten fresh and raw, longan fruit is also often used in Asian soups, snacks, desserts, and sweet-and-sour foods, either fresh or dried, and sometimes preserved and canned in syrup. Since longan is available fresh, dried, or canned, it is almost like three different ingredients. For best preservation of nutrients, choose fresh fruit and use it uncooked. Use canned and dried longan to add complex flavors to a variety of dishes. Dried longan may need soaking for some dishes. Canned longan is often packed in sweetened syrup. Rinsing will remove excess sugar.

Here are some ways to use longan:

  • Add to a salad along with citrus and mint for a refreshing side dish.  

  • Place unshelled longan in the freezer. Remove and peel for a frosty treat. 

  • Mix with other diced fruit for a tasty fruit salad. Add nuts or coconut if you like.  

  • Blend the fruit of longan with coconut milk and a banana to make a delicious smoothie. 

  • Add canned longan to curries and other hearty dishes.  

  • Dice dried longan and cook it with oatmeal or use it in overnight oats.  

  • Make a traditional Asian tea using red dates and dried longan.

  • Cook dried longan with goji berry and white fungus for a healthful sweet desert that enhances collagen. 

  • Turn dried longan into jam, jelly, or preserves. 

You can have the sharp eye and noble heart of a Dragon. 

Longan in Chinese Myth and Culture

One legend retells the tale of a dragon terrorizing a coastal town of southern China. The dragon would come into the village with the ocean’s tide each August and would cause the villagers to flee and hide in caves in fear while the dragon ransacked the town. A man named Longan saw the dragon’s destruction and vowed to kill the dragon the following year. When August came, Longan prepared a meal of wine-soaked pork and mutton for the dragon, causing the dragon to become drunk once he ate the meat. Longan leaped onto the dragon and stabbed his left eye, but when he popped the eye out of the socket, a fruit came out instead. Another fruit popped out of the dragon’s right eye and fell to the ground. Longan and the dragon fought to the death, with Longan victorious. However he eventually died from battle wounds. The villagers, relieved the dragon was gone, carefully buried Longan’s body with the fruits that sprang from the dragon’s eyes. The following year, two fruit trees bearing clusters of small eye-like fruits grew from the burial site. The villagers named the fruits Longan in honor of their fallen hero.

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