The red hairy fruit, Rambutan. Are they good for you?

Rambutan, the red hairy fruit some may call it, hangs off branches from trees that spread wide across tropical countries.

The Rambutan tree, a medium-sized tropical tree in the family Sapindaceae, produces rambutans that is native to Southeast Asia. It is a small, red or yellowish fruit with a spiky (or some may call it hairy) outer shell. The fruit has a sweet and juicy flesh, which surrounds a single seed at its core.

Rambutans are commonly found in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. They can also be found in other tropical regions, including Hawaii, Florida, and Central and South America.

While some are lucky to have rambutan trees in their backyards or small orchards, this exotic fruit is usually sold in local markets in the regions where they are grown, or can be found in specialty food stores or imported fruit markets.

History of Rambutan

The exact origin of rambutan is not known, but is believed to have originated in the Malay Archipelago, which includes Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The fruit has been cultivated in Southeast Asia for centuries, and it has since spread to other tropical regions of the world.

The name “rambutan” comes from the Malay word “rambut,” which means hair, referring to the spiky hairs on the fruit’s outer shell. The legend goes that a woman named Wan Mali, who lived in the Malay Archipelago, found the fruit growing wild in the forest and brought it back to her village to share with others.

How are they good for you?

Some may say that the fruit looks scary and would not want to try. However, rambutan is known to be a nutritious fruit that offers some potential health benefits.

They are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and flavonoids that help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. It being high in vitamin c helps to strengthen the immune system, which in turn can help prevent infections and diseases. Not only that, its presence of vitamin C is essential for collagen production, which helps to keep the skin healthy and youthful.

Should you need more dietary fibre in your body, rambutan is a good source, where it promotes healthy digestion and prevent constipation.

What can we eat Rambutans with?

Apart from eating it on its own, there are many others ways you can eat rambutans. It can be enjoyed with both sweet and savoury dishes.

When eaten fresh, Rambutan can be eaten fresh, simply by peeling off the spiky outer shell and biting into the sweet, juicy flesh. Do take not that the seed cannot be eaten. Its hard yet soft and chewy texture is also a great addition to fruit salads, and can be peeled and added into smoothes with other tropical fruits such as mango and pineapple; it adds flavour and added nutrition to the drink.

Video: Niwas by Asittha

Another use of Rambutan we see more frequently now is in desserts such as sponge cakes with fresh fruits, tarts and yogurt. Some may think that it is lychee as they do have a similar shape, however rambutan has a lighter taste.

Lastly, rambutan can be added into savory dishes like curry, stir-fries and salads. One example is the Thai curry called “Kaeng Phanaeng,” which is a mild, creamy curry made with chicken or beef, coconut milk, and a variety of spices including cumin, coriander, and cardamom.


If you’re looking to expand your fruit horizons, rambutans are definitely worth a try.

These exotic fruits offer a unique taste and texture, with a sweet and juicy flesh that surrounds a single seed. Rambutans are also packed with nutrients, including antioxidants, fibre, and vitamin C, which may offer several health benefits.

Whether you eat them fresh, add them to a smoothie or a salad, or use them in a dessert or savoury dish, rambutans are a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet and you will not regret!