Lychees in syrup can be a healthy food choice in moderation. Canned lychees are relatively low in calories and contain beneficial nutrients like vitamin C, copper, and antioxidants. However, the syrup adds extra sugar, so it’s best to drain and rinse lychees before eating. Consuming lychees in heavy syrup may contribute empty calories and added sugars, so light syrup or juice-packed is a better option. As with any food, portion control is key. Enjoy lychees as an occasional treat alongside an overall balanced diet.
Here are the nutrition facts for a 1/2 cup serving of canned lychees in syrup (141g):
|Total Fat||0 g|
|Saturated Fat||0 g|
|Trans Fat||0 g|
|Total Carbohydrate||42 g|
|Dietary Fiber||2 g|
|Vitamin C||28% DV|
As you can see, lychees themselves are low in calories, fat, and sodium. The high sugar content comes from the syrup they are packed in. Rinsing lychees before eating can reduce the sugar intake.
Lychee Nutrition Benefits
Here are some of the top nutrients found in lychees and their health benefits:
Vitamin C – Lychees are an excellent source of vitamin C, providing 28% DV in just half a cup. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to boost immunity and protect cells from damage. It also helps your body absorb iron more efficiently.
Copper – Lychees contain copper, a mineral that assists with energy production, nerve function, collagen formation, and boosting the immune system. Copper also acts as an antioxidant.
Antioxidants – In addition to vitamin C, lychees contain antioxidants like polyphenols and flavonoids. These compounds fight free radical damage and may offer anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-aging effects.
B-vitamins – Lychees provide small amounts of B-vitamins like niacin, folate, and pantothenic acid. B-vitamins help turn food into energy and keep your nervous system, skin, and hair healthy.
Fiber – A serving of lychees contains 2 grams of fiber, supporting digestive and heart health. Fiber also slows the absorption of sugar to prevent blood sugar spikes.
So in moderation, the nutrients in lychees can benefit health in many ways. Just be mindful of limiting added sugars from the syrup.
Benefits of Canned Lychees
Here are some of the main benefits of enjoying canned lychees:
Convenience – Canned lychees are peeled, pitted, and ready to eat – no prep required. They can be easily incorporated into recipes, fruit salads, desserts, and more.
Year-round availability – Unlike fresh lychees which have a short season, canned lychees can be found in stores year-round so you can enjoy them anytime.
Affordability – Canned lychees are typically more affordable than fresh lychees. Their long shelf life prevents food waste.
Nutrient retention – The canning process allows lychees to be picked and packed at peak ripeness, helping retain nutrients like vitamin C and antioxidants.
Versatility – Canned lychees work well in both sweet and savory dishes. Try adding them to oatmeal, yogurt, cakes, chicken salads, stir fries, and more.
However, pay attention to the syrup type (see next section) and enjoy them in moderation to limit added sugars.
Light Syrup vs. Heavy Syrup
Canned lychees are packed in either light, heavy, or extra heavy syrup. Light syrup has fewer added sugars:
Light syrup – Has around 100 calories and 25g sugar per 1/2 cup serving.
Heavy syrup – Has about 165 calories and 40g sugar per 1/2 cup serving.
Extra heavy syrup – Has approximately 190 calories and 45g sugar per 1/2 cup serving.
Ideally, choose lychees canned in light syrup or even juice to get the nutritional benefits of lychees with less added sugar. You can also drain and rinse lychees before eating to remove excess syrup.
Watch your portion sizes as well, since the heavy syrup versions add more empty calories and sugars to your diet.
Potential Downsides of Lychees in Syrup
While lychees themselves are healthy, here are some potential downsides of canned lychees to keep in mind:
Added sugars – The syrup adds extra sugar without nutritional benefits. This could contribute to weight gain, blood sugar spikes, and dental issues if consumed in large amounts.
Preservatives – Canned lychees may contain preservatives like sulfur dioxide to help prolong shelf life. Sulfites may trigger asthma attacks or headaches in sensitive individuals.
BPA lining – Some cans use BPA linings which may leach hormones into food over time. Opt for BPA-free cans when possible.
Less fiber & nutrients – Canned fruits tend to be lower in fiber and some nutrients than fresh. The canning process can degrade heat-sensitive vitamins over time.
High sodium – Canned versions, especially if packed in brine rather than syrup, can be quite high in sodium. Check labels and opt for low or no-salt-added.
To get the benefits without downsides, pay attention to added sugars, preservatives, and sodium on the labels. Rinsing lychees helps remove excess syrup. And eating canned lychees in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet is advised.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy Lychees in Syrup
Here are some healthy tips for incorporating canned lychees into your diet:
– Opt for lychees canned in light syrup or juice to minimize added sugars.
– Rinse lychees before eating to wash away excess syrup.
– Mix lychees into plain Greek yogurt for added natural sweetness.
– Use diced lychees to sweeten and add texture to oatmeal or chia pudding.
– Blend canned lychees into smoothies along with milk/yogurt, banana, and spinach.
– Combine lychees with canned pineapple chunks and mandarin oranges for tropical fruit salad.
– Stir lychees into cottage cheese for an easy, protein-packed dessert.
– Enjoy a few lychees alongside raw, unsalted nuts and seeds for a balanced snack.
– Serve diced lychees over leafy greens, quinoa, or chicken salad.
– Bake canned lychees into muffins, cakes, crisps, and cobblers for added moisture.
– Mix lychees into plain hummus or use as topping for avocado toast.
The key is moderation and balancing lychees with other less-sweetened foods. Lychees can be part of a healthy eating pattern when consumed wisely.
Are Canned Lychees Safe for Babies?
Here are some tips on introducing canned lychees to babies:
– Wait until 12 months to feed lychees to reduce allergy risks.
– Look for BPA-free cans to avoid hormone-disrupting chemicals.
– Choose lychees packed in juice with no added sugar or sodium.
– Dilute with water or breastmilk to decrease sweetness.
– Start with 1-2 tbsp pureed or diced lychees at a time.
– Monitor for reactions like rash, vomiting, or diarrhea.
– Under age 2, avoid honey or heavy syrups due to botulism risk.
– Offer lychees as a compliment to vegetables, proteins, and grains.
– Don’t force-feed; watch for gagging since lychees have a slippery texture.
– Introduce other higher-fiber fruits first like apples, pears, bananas.
Canned lychees can be a safe, nutritious first fruit for babies 12+ months when following these precautions. As always, check with your pediatrician if you have any concerns.
Recipes with Canned Lychees
Here are some nutritious recipes that incorporate canned lychees:
Tropical Yogurt Bark
– 2 cans (20oz each) lychees in light syrup, drained and chopped
– 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
– 1⁄4 cup honey or agave nectar
– 1⁄2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
– 1⁄4 cup unsalted pistachios, chopped
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, stir together yogurt, honey/agave, and most of the lychees.
2. Spread onto prepared baking sheet into an even layer about 1⁄2 inch thick.
3. Top with remaining lychees, coconut flakes, and pistachios. Gently press so topping adhere.
4. Freeze 30-60 minutes until firm. Break into pieces and enjoy!
– Sweeten to taste with honey or agave. Can use 3-5 chopped dates instead.
– Can blend some of the lychees into the yogurt for a fruit swirl effect.
– Top with any nuts, seeds, or dried fruit of choice.
Chicken & Lychee Salad
– 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast
– 1 can (20oz) lychees, drained and chopped
– 3 cups mixed greens
– 1⁄2 cup diced red onion
– 1⁄2 cup diced bell pepper
– 1⁄4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
– 3 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tbsp rice vinegar
– 1 tsp minced ginger
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– 1 tbsp lime juice
– 1 tsp honey
– Salt and pepper to taste
1. Whisk together dressing ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.
2. In a large bowl, combine chicken, lychees, greens, onions, bell peppers and cilantro.
3. Add dressing right before serving and toss to coat.
– Use any veggies you have on hand like shredded carrots, snap peas, water chestnuts.
– Serve over quinoa or brown rice for a grain bowl.
– Top with toasted nuts, seeds, or crispy wonton strips.
Lychees are a tasty tropical fruit that can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. Canned lychees provide year-round convenience and retain many nutritional benefits of fresh lychees. Just be mindful of limiting added sugars and sodium by rinsing before eating and choosing light or juice-packed varieties. Include lychees as part of an overall balanced approach to eating with plenty of vegetables, proteins, whole grains, and more fiber-rich fruit. Use lychees to add a naturally sweet kick to smoothies, yogurt, salads, baked goods, and more. By following basic nutrition principles, you can enjoy the unique flavor and nutrients of lychees without overdoing it on sugar.