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Is Litchi Good For People With Diabetes?

The season of litchi is here and people are all ready to indulge in this exotic nutritional seasonal fruit. Seasonal fruits play a vital role in diabetes diet as they contain numerous bioactive compounds that help lower the glucose levels and enhance the immunity to prevent diabetes-related complications.

Litchi is a well-known fruit due to its vast nutritional profile. All parts such as pulp, leaves, seed, flowers and pericarp of the plant contains high amount of phytochemicals such as kaempferol, saponins, stigmasterol, epicatechin; leucocyanidin; malvidin glycoside; and procyanidin A2 and procyanidin B2. [1]

For diabetics, the fruit can help manage glucose levels and also be healthy to manage summer heat. Take a look at the details.

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Reasons Litchi Is Good For Diabetics

1. Has anti-diabetic effects

According to a study, phenolics in litchi exhibit strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and immunomodulatory activities. Consumption of litchi may help reduce the harmful effects of free radicals on the pancreas due to its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties and improve the production of insulin. On the other hand, it may also help boost immunity and manage its complications. [2] Litchi extracts are safe at a dose of 1 g/kg.

2. Prevents sugar-induced cataract

Diabetes can proceed to cause a major complication i.e cataract, especially in people over 50 years. A study has shown that litchi plays an important role in preventing sugar-induced cataract. The four minor compounds: dihydroxybenzoic acid, D-mannitol, 39,59-di-O-beta-glucopyranoside and 39-O-beta-glucopyranoside in litchi have potent inhibition action against glucose and thus, may help prevent and/or treat this diabetic complication. [3]

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3. Protects against neuronal injury

Diabetes could be the cause of many neurological conditions. This is because prolonged high glucose levels in the body can weaken the nerve walls and obstruct the supply of oxygen and nutrients to nerves, causing diabetic neuropathy. A study has shown that litchi seeds have neuroprotective effects and may help prevent neuronal injury or delay its progression. [4]

4. Prevents the onset of diabetes-related Alzheimer's

Type 2 diabetes mellitus can contribute to the progression of Alzheimer's or dementia and cause cognitive impairment in diabetics. Litchi has neuroprotective effects that may help improve the ability of memory and learning and improve or slow down the progression of degenerative diseases. Also, saponins in litchi can help lower the glucose in patients with Alzheimer's. [4]

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5. Reduces oxidative damage to the pancreas

In a study, it was investigated that oligonol, a polyphenol in litchi peel can help reduce the effects of oxidative stress on the pancreas and thus, protect the organ from free radicals damage and inflammation. Oligonol can significantly help decrease the sugar levels in the body and increase the production of insulin due to its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects. [5]

6. Boosts immunity

Hyperglycemia is responsible for the dysfunction of the body's immune system, leading to the spread of pathogens in diabetics. According to a study, the bioactive compounds in litchi may help enhance the production of macrophage that helps in destroying pathogens and thus, boost immunity. [6]

7. Prevents diabetes-induced liver damage

Oligonol in litchi is not only responsible for protecting the pancreas, but also the liver that helps in storing glucose in the form of glycogen for later use. Oligonol helps in lowering the cholesterol levels in the blood, caused due to deposition of excess lipid in the liver of diabetics. Also, it helps protect the liver from oxidative stress and inflammation due to its hepatoprotective effects. [7]

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8. Low glycemic index

The glycemic index of litchi is 57 and glycemic load is 9 per 100 g. This reading comes under the moderate glycemic index. This means that when litchi is consumed, it tends to release the glucose slowly and steadily, without spiking the sugar levels at once. Therefore, litchi could be one of the healthy seasonal fruits in a diabetes diet. [8]

9. High fibre content

Fibre is essential in the management of diabetes. Litchi is rich in dietary fibre and has no cholesterol or saturated fats. It is also packed with a high amount of nutrients like magnesium, folate and vitamin B-complex, which is known to lower oxidative stress, protects pancreatic cells and improves the production of insulin in the body. [9]

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10. Prevents heart-related diabetic complications

Litchi is high in antioxidants like vitamin C and also has a good amount of minerals like potassium, iron, magnesium and folate. These vital minerals may help maintain the sugar levels in the body and regulate the blood pressure and thus, prevent a range of diabetes-induced heart symptoms such as stroke and high blood pressure.

Downsides Of Litchi For Diabetics

  • The phenolics in litchi may interact with certain diabetes drugs or insulin.
  • It may increase the bleeding risk when taken with medications such as anticoagulants, aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • When litchi is consumed with other herbs such as Ginkgo biloba, the risk of bleeding may increase. To mention, ginkgo biloba is also a great herb to treat and prevent diabetes.
  • As the glycemic index is moderate, it is suggested to consume the fruit in a limited amount.

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To Conclude

Litchi is one of the best seasonal fruits for all. People with diabetes can also benefit a lot from the consumption of this juicy, sweet and tangy fruit. However, consume the fruit in a moderate amount and consult a medical expert before using its supplements.