Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Rambutan

Published January 5th, 2022 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by
Erik Rivera
Medically Reviewed:
Dr. Angel Rivera

Rambutan 101 | Nutritional Values | Health Benefits | Recipes

Rambutan, or Nephelium lappaceum, is a tangy, refreshing fruit that has been around for centuries and is related to the lychee fruit.

It originally was indigenous to Southeast Asia and grows on a rambutan tree in tropical climates but is now found growing all over the world.

The rambutan fruit is also known as other names in different languages in Southeast Asia such as ngoh or phruan in Thai.

They are often eaten raw but can also be used in many different recipes. Let's take a closer look at rambutans.

What is a rambutan?

Rambutan is a small, spiny fruit that grows on the tropical tree called Nephelium lappaceum.

It looks like an alien sea urchin or something out of Star Wars with its red, yellow, or orange-brown colored skin enclosing white flesh which has a sweet flavor around a woody seed in the center.

The name is derived from the Malay word "rambut", which means hairy.

The rambutan contains vitamin C and iron and it is high in fiber, low calorie, and it contains vitamins A, B-complex, and several essential minerals.

It is a seasonal fruit that is most abundant in the summer months.


What is the nutritional value of rambutan?

Rambutan has a number of vitamins and minerals while being low in fat and high in fiber.

100 grams of rambutan, or about 4 fruits, provides about 82 calories, 21 grams of carbohydrates, and less than a gram of fat.

Additionally, rambutan contains around 42 milligrams of potassium, 22 milligrams of calcium, 0.35 milligrams of iron and 4.9 mg of vitamin C.

Below is a list of the common nutritional values for rambutan.

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)

Energy 343 kJ (82 kcal)

Carbohydrates 20.87 g

Dietary fiber 0.9 g

Fat 0.21 g

Protein 0.65 g

Vitamins Quantity %DV

Thiamine (B1) 0.013 mg 1%

Riboflavin (B2) 0.022 mg 2%

Niacin (B3) 1.352 mg 9%

Vitamin B6 0.02 mg 2%

Folate (B9) 8 μg 2%

Vitamin C 4.9 mg 6%

Minerals Quantity %DV

Calcium 22 mg 2%

Iron 0.35 mg 3%

Magnesium 7 mg 2%

Manganese 0.343 mg 16%

Phosphorus 9 mg 1%

Potassium 42 mg 1%

Sodium 11 mg 1%

Zinc 0.08 mg 1%

Other constituents Quantity

Water 78.3 g

What are the health benefits of rambutan?

Rambutan has numerous health benefits because its antioxidants can help to protect cells from damage by free radicals which helps prevent cancerous cell mutations.

Free radicals are also thought to speed up the aging process too.

The rambutan is also a good source of dietary fiber which can help to regulate digestion and prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, and other gastrointestinal problems.

Additionally, rambutans are a good source of potassium which helps maintain blood pressure levels that are already within the normal range and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.

It also contains copper, niacin, and folic acid which are all involved in cellular metabolism.

As with other fruits, eating rambutans regularly can help with weight loss and feeling full.

The skin, or peel, and the seed also have nutritional value but are generally not eaten. It is not recommended to try eating the seeds due to possible narcotic properties.

How do you eat a rambutan?

The rambutan is a unique fruit in that it is one of the few tropical fruits with a hair on it; because of this, the rambutan can be a little challenging to eat.

The spiked or hairy appearance can be misleading since they are not hard and the peel is easily cut.

The best way to eat one is to cut off both ends and then use your fingers to pry open the skin like you would an orange.

Once you have exposed the rambutan fruit, you can eat it with a spoon. It is also possible to cut open the rambutan and use your fingers or tongs but the spoon method may be preferred by some people for sanitary reasons.

Many people make a slice down the middle of the fruit and pinch each end to force the white fruit out.

The seed is either discarded immediately or spit out once separated from the fruit in your mouth.

In the countries where they are popular, they are also typically available canned or in a juice.

Are there any adverse effects to eating rambutan?

There are no known adverse effects of eating rambutans.

However, some people may be allergic or sensitive to the fruit and should avoid it if they experience stomach upset after consuming rambutans.

Also, since rambutans can cause intestinal problems such as diarrhea in very high quantities, it is best to avoid eating excessive amounts.

The seed is supposed to have some narcotic properties that are not fully known and for this reason, we do not recommend you eat it.

How long do rambutans last and how do you know when they are ripe?

Rambutans do not ripen after they are picked so you need to be careful when buying rambutan fruits at the store.

The rind of rambutan fruit peel is typically bright red with maybe a little bit of yellow, green, or orange on the peel when it is ripe which means that you can pick one up and use your thumb to press into the skin or peel slightly. If there is some resistance, it is probably ripe and ready to eat. If the rambutan peel is green, this means it is unripe and shouldn't be picked or eaten yet.

The hairs will turn black on overripe rambutans and they should be eaten immediately or discarded.

What recipes use rambutan?

Rambutan is a versatile fruit that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Some popular recipes that use rambutan are curries, salads, jams, jellies, smoothies, and desserts.

Rambutan pairs well with other tropical fruits such as mangoes, papayas, pineapples, bananas and go great in a fruit salad. It can also be used in more unusual combinations with meats, cheeses, and grains.

For example, rambutan can be added to a Thai green curry or as a topping on ice cream. Rambutan is also popular in Filipino cuisine and is often cooked with sugar and served as a dessert.


Rambutan is a unique tropical fruit that is covered in spikes and has a hairy exterior. The rind on these Asian fruits  is bright red when ripe and the fruit can be eaten with a spoon or your fingers.

Rambutan is a good source of dietary fiber which helps digestion and prevents constipation, hemorrhoids, other gastrointestinal problems. and feeling full.

Additionally, rambutan is a good source of vitamin C which helps the immune system and can help prevent colds, flu, and other respiratory infections.

Rambutan also contains antioxidants that may help protect against cancer and heart disease. The seed inside the rambutan fruit has possible narcotic properties and should not be eaten.

Rambutans are available canned or in juice or other drinks in areas where rambutans are common.

Rambutans should only be consumed when they are ripe which means that the peel is bright red and there is resistance when you press your thumb into the rind.

Rambutan can be used in both sweet and savory dishes and is popular in Southeast Asian cuisine. 

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