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Rambutan: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and More By Dr. Smita Barode

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more


What is Rambutan? Rambutan is a fascinating-looking red spiky fruit with soft thorns in red, yellow, and green shades. It is also known as a hairy fruit. It is a tropical, ovoid-shaped fruit with a red or yellow fruit wall. The Rambutan tree is originally from Malaysia, and its name is derived from the Malay word ‘rambut,’ which means hair. Rambutan is popularly grown in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and some humid parts of the United States. The scientific name of rambutan is Nephelium lappaceum, and it belongs to the family Sapindaceae. Rambutan pulp, seeds, and peel have several bioactive compounds that may benefit food, pharmaceuticals, medicine, and cosmetics advances.1

Let us glance through some of the benefits of eating rambutan and experience the unique rambutan taste, characterized by its sweet and juicy profile with hints of floral notes.

rambutan benefits

Nutritional Value of Rambutan: 

Rambutan seeds, peel, and pulp may contain several bioactive compounds like polyphenols, including ellagitannins, geraniin, corilagin, and ellagic acid. It may contain fatty acids like arachidonic acid, stearic acid, palmitic acid, and many more.1 Furthermore, Rambutan fruit may contain the following nutrients: 

Nutritional Component Amount 
Energy 82 kcal 
Water 78 g 
Fats 0.21 g 
Protein 0.65 g 
Fibre 0.9 g 
Carbohydrates 20.9 g 
Magnesium 7 mg 
Potassium 42 mg 
Calcium 22 mg 
Phosphorous 9 mg 
Iron 0.35 mg 
Manganese 0.343 mg 
Copper 0.066 mg 
Sodium 11 mg 
Zinc 0.08 mg 
Vitamin A 3 IU 
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) 0.013 mg 
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.022 mg 
Vitamin B3 (niacin) 1.35 mg 
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 0.018 mg 
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 0.02 mg 
Vitamin B9 (folate) 8 µg 
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 4.9 mg 
Beta carotene 2 µg 

Did you know?

Table 1: Nutritional value of rambutan2 

Properties of Rambutan: 

Several studies have shown that rambutan may have the following properties: 

  • It may be an antioxidant 
  • It may act against microbial infections 
  • It may reduce inflammation 
  • It may reduce blood glucose levels 
  • It may act against cancer 
  • It may lower blood pressure 
  • It may relieve fever 
  • It may delete worms from the intestine1 

Rambutan seeds are roasted and eaten as snacks in the Philippines. Munching on these seeds as a morning or evening snack not only satisfies your taste buds but also offers rambutan benefits for health and well-being.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Potential Benefits of Rambutan for Overall Health 

Some of the potential rambutan benefits are: 

1. Potential benefits of rambutan as an antioxidant 

A study by Hernàndez et al. in 2017 showed that rambutan might be an antioxidant. The antioxidant potential of rambutan may be due to phytochemical compounds like phenols, flavonoids, corilagin, geraniin, and ellagic acid. These compounds may deactivate the free radicals (harmful molecules present in the body) and protect the body from various damages.3 

2. Potential benefits of rambutan for cancer 

A study by Perumal et al. in 2020 showed that rambutan might act against breast, bone, cervical, and liver cancer. The anticancer activity of rambutan may be due to bioactive compounds like flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, terpenoids, and other phenolic compounds like geraniin. Rambutan benefits may show apoptosis (kill the cancer cells) and inhibit their growth. However, more studies are required to check if rambutan can be used against cancer. Cancer is a serious disease; therefore, you must consult your doctor if you suspect cancer instead of self-medicating. 

3. Potential benefits of rambutan for reducing sugar levels 

Rambutan is a delicious tropical fruit that might offer potential benefits for diabetes management. A study by Muhtadi et al. in 2016, conducted on rats, suggested that bioactive compounds found in rambutan, such as catechin, quercetin, polyphenols, geraniin, and tannins, could contribute to reducing blood sugar levels. These compounds may help inhibit glucose absorption by the cells and stimulate insulin secretion, potentially assisting in the maintenance of normal blood sugar levels. It’s important to note that this study was conducted on animals, and further research on humans is needed to confirm the potential rambutan benefits for diabetes. If you have diabetes, it’s essential to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and consult with your healthcare provider for appropriate guidance.

4. Potential benefits of rambutan for dengue 

A study by Ahmad et al. in 2015 showed that geraniin in rambutan might have anti-viral activity and act against DENV-2 (dengue virus type-2). Geraniin may inhibit the attachment of the dengue virus to the body cells and may also interfere with a viral protein (E protein) to disrupt the infection process.6 However, further studies are required to check if rambutan may act against the dengue virus. Therefore, you must immediately consult your doctor if you suspect any symptoms of dengue. 

5. Potential benefits of rambutan to reduce inflammation 

A study by Chingsuwanrote et al. in 2015 showed that the polyphenols in rambutan might reduce inflammation. The polyphenols may inhibit the secretion of TNFα, an inflammatory cytokine (molecules in the body responsible for inflammation).7 However, more studies are required to check if rambutan has anti-inflammatory properties. 

6. Potential benefits of rambutan for bacterial infections 

A study by Phuong et al. in 2020 showed that bioactive compounds in rambutan, like tannins, corilagin, geraniins, and ellagic acid, may possess antibacterial activity. Various bioactive compounds have different ways of showing their antibacterial activity. Tannins may change the structure of the cell wall and cell membrane. Ellagic acid may attach to the cell wall and destabilize it. Corilagin may inhibit the growth of bacteria by disrupting cell permeability.8 However, more large-scale studies are required to check the antibacterial effect of rambutan. Therefore, you must consult your doctor if you suspect a microbial infection. 

7. Potential benefits of rambutan for controlling blood pressure 

A study by Fang et al. in 2018 suggested that rambutan fruit benefits might extend to lowering blood pressure. Specifically, geraniin found in rambutan may play a role in reducing blood pressure by decreasing the release of noradrenaline (a hormone that increases blood pressure) and relaxing tension in the blood vessels.9 Further research involving human subjects is needed to confirm these effects. It’s essential to consult your doctor if you have abnormal blood pressure instead of attempting self-medication.

Other potential benefits of rambutan

1. Potential benefits of rambutan in pregnancy 

Rambutan, a tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia, has garnered attention for its potential use during pregnancy. This fruit is a good source of essential nutrients that can benefit expectant mothers, making it a favorable option for those exploring rambutan benefits for pregnant women. Rambutan is rich in vitamin C, which supports the immune system and helps with iron absorption, a crucial factor in preventing anemia during pregnancy. It also contains vital vitamins such as A and B-complex vitamins, contributing to both fetal development and maternal well-being, making it a noteworthy choice for those curious about rambutan’s benefits in pregnancy.

2. Potential benefits of rambutan for hair 

The potential use of rambutan for hair is gaining attention due to its rich content of vitamins and antioxidants.Rambutan’s benefits for hair are evident in its natural source of vitamin C, which may promote hair growth and strengthen hair follicles. Additionally, the fruit’s antioxidant properties may help protect hair from damage caused by free radicals, keeping it healthy and vibrant. The application of rambutan-based hair products or incorporating the fruit into your diet may contribute to improved hair quality and vitality. However, more research is needed to fully understand the extent of rambutan’s benefits for hair.

3. Potential benefits of rambutan for skin 

Rambutan benefits for skin are evident in its richness of antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, which can help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals and UV radiation. These antioxidants may also aid in reducing signs of aging and promoting a more youthful complexion. Additionally, the fruit’s natural compounds could assist in maintaining skin hydration and enhancing its overall texture. Incorporating rambutan into your skincare routine or using products infused with rambutan extracts may offer a natural and healthy way to improve skin health. However, further research is needed to fully explore the extent of rambutan’s advantages for the skin.

4. Potential benefits of rambutan for fertility

The potential benefits of rambutan for fertility in both males and females have piqued the interest of those seeking to optimize their reproductive health. Rambutan contains various bioactive compounds that may offer advantages for both genders aiming to support their reproductive capabilities.

Rambutan benefits for male reproductive health have also been a subject of interest in preliminary research. The compounds, such as catechin, quercetin, and polyphenols found in rambutan, could potentially enhance sperm quality and motility, which are essential factors for successful conception. Therefore, Rambutan benefits for sperm emphasize its potential role in enhancing reproductive wellness.

Rambutan benefits for females by incorporating rambutan into a well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, such as vitamins C and A, may contribute to overall reproductive well-being. Additionally, the antioxidants found in rambutan may help safeguard against oxidative damage, which can influence fertility in both genders.

Though studies show the benefits of rambutan in various conditions, these are insufficient, and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of rambutan on human health. 

Researchers are evaluating the anti-HIV, anti-dengue and anti-allergic properties of Rambutan. These activities have been observed during lab trials; more research is needed to support these claims.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Rambutan vs Lychee

Rambutan and lychee are two tropical fruits that are often compared due to their similar appearance and taste. However, they have distinct differences that set them apart.


  • Appearance: Rambutan is a small, round fruit with hairy, spiky skin that ranges in color from green to red when ripe. The name “rambutan” actually means “hairy” in Malay, referring to its spiky exterior.
  • Flavor: The flesh of the rambutan is sweet and juicy, with a slightly acidic and tangy flavor. Rambutan taste is often described as a combination of lychee and grape.
  • Nutrition: Rambutan is a good source of vitamins C and A, as well as various minerals. It also contains antioxidants that can benefit overall health.
  • Growth: Rambutan is primarily grown in Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.


  • Appearance: Lychee, often referred to as lichas fruit, is a small, round fruit with reddish-pink, rough, and bumpy skin. It is often smaller than rambutan and lacks the hairy spikes.
  • Flavor: The flesh of the lychee is incredibly sweet and fragrant, with a floral and tropical taste. It is considered one of the most flavorful fruits in the world.
  • Nutrition: Like rambutan, lychee is rich in vitamin C and provides essential nutrients. It is also known for its high polyphenol content, which has potential health benefits.
  • Growth: Lychee is commonly cultivated in Southeast Asia, China, India, and various other tropical and subtropical regions.

How to Use Rambutan? 

Rambutan can be consumed in the following way: 

  • The fruit can be eaten fresh or canned. 
  • In addition, Rambutan fruit benefits in the preparation of fruit salads. 
  • Rambutan seeds can be roasted and eaten.10 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking large quantities of Rambutan or other herbal supplements. Likewise, do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. 

Side Effects of Rambutan 

Rambutan side effects are reported as follows: 

  • It may cause nausea and vomiting 
  • It may cause angioedema (swelling of the lower layer of skin) 
  • It may cause urticaria (swollen, reddened, and itchy skin) 
  • It may cause flushing of the skin (sudden redness of the skin) 
  • It may cause chest tightness and wheezing11 

If you notice any reaction by consuming rambutan, seek immediate medical attention. First, consult your ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it to you; they will be able to identify the cause and treat it. 

Precautions to Take with  

The following precautions can be taken before consuming rambutan: 

  • Rambutan is considered safe, but pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should take precautions before consuming rambutan.12 
  • Saponins and tannins are phytochemicals, and they are biologically active compounds. In a few cases, it may be toxic to a few people. The seeds of rambutan may be narcotic (causes sleepiness and affects mood).13 

It is advised to consult your doctor before consuming if you have any pre-existing diseases. 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

There is not enough evidence on the interaction of rambutan with other drugs. Further studies on the interaction of rambutan are required. Therefore, you must consult your doctor if you are on any other medication before consuming rambutan. 

Also Read: Longan: Research on Its Health Benefits and Nutritional Value

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What are rambutan health benefits?

There are several health benefits of rambutan fruit. It may reduce diabetes, lower blood pressure, and increase digestive function. Rambutan may be used for bacterial and viral infections. Additionally, rambutan may reduce inflammation due to its antioxidant properties. It can also be used against dengue and cancer.1,3,4,5,6,8,9 However, you must consult your doctor if you suspect any above-mentioned symptoms and do not self-medicate. 

2) What are rambutan fruit side effects? 

Rambutan may cause nausea and vomiting, angioedema (swelling of the lower layer of skin), urticaria (swollen, reddened, and itchy skin), flushing of the skin (sudden redness of the skin), chest tightness, and wheezing.11  

3) Is rambutan good for diabetes? 

Bioactive compounds in rambutan, like catechin, quercetin, polyphenols, geraniin, and tannins, may help to reduce blood sugar.5 However, you must check your blood sugar levels regularly and consult your doctor in case of abnormal blood sugar levels

4) What precautions must be taken with rambutan?

Rambutan is considered safe, but pregnant and breastfeeding mothers shall take precautions before consuming rambutan.12 Saponins and tannins are phytochemicals, and they are biologically active compounds. But in a few cases, saponins and tannins may be toxic to a few people. In addition, rambutan seeds may be narcotic (causes sleepiness and affects mood).13 It is advised to consult your doctor if you have any pre-existing diseases before consuming. 

5) Is rambutan good for dengue? 

Geraniin in rambutan may have anti-viral activity and may act against DENV-2 (dengue virus type-2).6 However, you must immediately consult your doctor if you suspect any symptoms of dengue.

6) Can rambutan seeds be eaten?

Rambutan seeds are generally not recommended for consumption as they can be bitter and potentially toxic. It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance regarding your dietary choices and potential risks associated with consuming rambutan seeds.

7) Can rambutan cause sore throat?

While rambutan consumption is not commonly associated with sore throat, individual reactions may vary. If you experience a sore throat after consuming rambutan or suspect any adverse reactions, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for a personalized assessment and guidance.

8) Can rambutan make you sick?

Consuming rambutan is generally safe for most individuals. However, if you experience digestive discomfort, allergies, or any adverse reactions after consuming rambutan, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper assessment and personalized guidance to determine the cause of the illness.

9) Can rambutan increase uric acid?

Rambutan is not a known food source that significantly increases uric acid levels. However, individual reactions can vary, and those with gout or uric acid concerns should consume it in moderation and monitor their own body’s response. If you have specific health concerns, consulting a healthcare professional is advisable for personalized guidance.

10) Can rambutan kill you?

Rambutan is generally safe to eat, and there is no evidence to suggest that consuming rambutan can be lethal. However, as with any food, overconsumption could lead to discomfort. If you have specific allergies or health concerns, it’s advisable to consume rambutan in moderation and consult a healthcare professional if needed.

11) Are rambutan good for dogs?

Rambutan should be avoided for dogs as it can pose a choking hazard due to its large seed and may not provide significant nutritional benefits for them. It’s best to consult with a veterinarian for guidance on safe and appropriate treats for your pet.

12) Are rambutan good for you?

Rambutan is a nutritious fruit that can be good for you when consumed in moderation. It provides essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, supporting overall health. 

13) Can rambutan cause stomach pain?

Rambutan is typically safe to eat, but for some individuals, overconsumption or sensitivity to certain compounds in the fruit might lead to stomach discomfort or pain. If you experience stomach pain after consuming rambutan, consult a healthcare professional to rule out any allergies or sensitivities and to ensure it aligns with your dietary choices.

14) Can rambutan cause constipation?

While rambutan is generally not associated with causing constipation, excessive consumption or dietary factors could potentially lead to this issue in some individuals. If you encounter constipation after eating rambutan, consult a healthcare professional to assess your dietary choices and address any underlying causes.

15) Can rambutan cause acne?

Rambutan is not commonly linked to causing acne. However, an individual’s skin reactions can vary, and it’s possible that consuming rambutan, especially in excessive amounts, might lead to skin issues for some people. Consulting a healthcare professional or dermatologist can help identify any specific triggers and address potential skin concerns.

16) Can rambutan cause cough?

Rambutan is not a known cause of cough. Coughing can result from various factors such as infections, allergies, or irritants. If you experience persistent coughing after consuming rambutan, consult a healthcare professional to rule out any allergies or underlying respiratory issues.

17) can rambutan cause miscarriage?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that rambutan can cause a miscarriage. However, during pregnancy, it’s crucial to be cautious about your dietary choices and consult a healthcare professional for guidance on safe and healthy eating practices to support a healthy pregnancy.

18) Can rambutan cause arthritis?

Rambutan is not known to cause arthritis. Arthritis is a complex condition with various causes, including genetic and lifestyle factors. If you suspect arthritis or have concerns about your joint health, consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and personalized guidance on managing the condition.

19) Can rambutan cause diarrhea?

Rambutan consumption is generally safe, but excessive intake may lead to diarrhea in some individuals due to its natural sugars and dietary fiber. If you experience persistent or severe diarrhea after eating rambutan, consult a healthcare professional to assess any underlying issues and ensure proper hydration and dietary choices.

20) How to eat rambutan?

To eat rambutan, start by making a shallow cut around the circumference of the fruit’s skin, being careful not to cut too deep. Then, gently twist the fruit open, revealing the juicy flesh inside. Remove the seed and enjoy the sweet and slightly tangy fruit.

21) Is rambutan a tree nut?

No, rambutan is not a tree nut. It is a tropical fruit belonging to the Sapindaceae family and is botanically related to lychee and longan. While it may trigger allergies in some individuals, it is not classified as a tree nut allergen.

22) Can cats eat rambutan?

Cats should not eat rambutan as it may not be safe for them. Rambutan fruit contains certain compounds that could potentially be harmful to cats if consumed. It’s best to stick to their regular cat food and treats to ensure their health and safety.

23) Can rabbits eat rambutan?

Rabbits should not be given rambutan as it’s not a suitable food for them. Rambutan is high in sugar and can cause digestive issues for rabbits. It’s important to feed them a diet primarily consisting of hay, fresh vegetables, and a controlled amount of fruits as treats.


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