If you enjoy honey and wonder about longan honey benefits for your health, then you should know that it is a powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial with good results against MRSA. When it is consumed fresh and raw.
Longan fruit is more known in the western world as the dragon’s eye. It does resemble an eyeball.
The fruit is very common in Asia, but is considered to be a relatively new fruit to the world (acknowledged outside of China only in the last 250 years). I personally still look at it in the supermarket as to an alien fruit, brought here from a dangerous magical world – the eye of a dragon… Why would I eat that?
But beyond my personal hesitations in eating this fruit, longan honey is a healthy and tasty honey I would never refuse.
Scientific name: Dimocarpus longan
Other names: longan, dragons’s eye
Family: Sapindaceae (soapberry family) just like lychee, rambutan, guarana, pitomba, Spanish lime, pulasan and ackee. Longan is commonly associated with lychee, similar in structure but more aromatic in taste.
Distribution: Southern Asia with lots of crops grown in southern China, Taiwan, northern Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, but also in Australia, U.S. and Mauritius. In North America and Australia commercial crops have only been around for twenty years. In Florida the small quantity produced are sold only at local farmer’s markets, while in Australia, the crops are much bigger, stretching along the northern and eastern coasts (The weather is much better suited for longan growth.)
The longan is an evergreen subtropical fruit tree that can grow up to 20 m high.
Flowers: The inflorescence include compound dichasia, terminal, usually leafless, erect, with widely branched panicles 8–60 cm long. Each inflorescence contains a large number of flowers, approximate 200–1000
functionally female flowers and 1000–4000 functionally male flowers.
The first flowers opened in mid spring in May and flowering continues for about 35–45 days in the same individual tree. Longan has three types of flowers (like lychee): staminate (functionally male), pistillate (functionally female), and hermaphroditic flowers.
They are small, yellow-brown with five petals and appear generally in three waves in the inflorescence with different degrees of overlap among them depending on the cultivars and the environmental conditions.
Pollination: Usually, the flowers open at night and pollination takes place from early morning to mid-afternoon by different insects, mainly honeybees. In Queensland longan crops have been shown to be also effectively pollinated by Trigona species (Blanche et al. 2006).
Fruit: After fertilization, usually two fruit abscission waves take place and finally each panicle can carry about 60–80 fruits. The fruit resembles an eyeball with the black seed showing through the translucent flesh like a pupil/iris. The peel is tan, thin, and leathery with tiny hairs. The flesh is translucent, and the seed is large and black with a circular white spot at the base.
The edible portion of the longan fruit is the fleshy aril. It has a musky, sweet taste, which can be compared to the flavor of lychee fruit. Yet while longan has a drier sweetness, lychees are often messily juicy with a more tropical, sour sweetness. The seed and the shell are not consumed.
There is a big difference in fruit according to its age: when it is fresh the flesh is juicy and white, but when it is dried the flesh is dark brown to almost black.
Uses of the fruit: Dried longan fruit is also often used in Asian soups, snacks, desserts, and sweet-and-sour foods, either fresh or dried, and sometimes preserved and canned in syrup.
In Chinese food therapy and herbal medicine, it is believed to have a relaxation effect.
Seed: small, round and hard, of an enamel-like, lacquered black. Longan seed extract has been shown to consist of gallic acid, corilagin and ellagic acid as the main active components, resulting in anti-oxidant and tyrosinase activities. (study)
How is longan honey?
Longan honey, also known as “spring honey” because it is primarily produced in the springtime, is a very common honey in Asia, just like acacia or linden honeys are in Europe, or alfalfa and heather honeys are in the US. In Malaysia it is considered one of the main monofloral honey, along acacia, pineapple, nenas, longan, rubber tree and sourwood. In Thailand or China this type of honey is probably the most common one.
Color: medium to dark amber with reddish tints
Flavor: fruity, redolent of peaches
Taste: medium sweet
Moisture content: 18.59 ± 0.12
Electrical conductivity: 0.48 ± 0.005 (source)
Total sugar content %: 56.67 ± 1.22
Protein content: high, 1.699%
Mineral content: high: Na (95.94 mg/kg), K (96.35mg/kg), Ca (118.07 mg/kg), Fe (164.60 mg/kg), Mg (35.47 mg/kg), Zn (26.47 mg/kg)
Fructose/glucose ratio: high
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs): the highest number of compounds (48) when compared to sunflower, coffee, wild flowers and lychee. (Praetinee Pattamayutanon, 2017)
Phenol content: lower than in manuka, coffee, gelam or rubber tree: from 301.93 to 467.66 mg GAE/kg of honey (manuka honey has 831.88 ±12.26, coffee has 734.76 ± 155.50), but higher than in lychee (253.69 ± 50.34 GAE/kg).
Flavonoid content: from 40.46 to 81.91 mg quercetin /kg of honey, lower than in coffee (178.31 ± 40.04) and manuka (162.87 ±11.51) – in honeys from Thailand. This content differs with geographical areas. Thus logan honey from Malaysia had a flavonoid concentration (142.63 mg/kg), higher than that of manuka honey (97.62 mg/kg), indicating its high antioxidant potential. According to this study, the higher flavonoid content present in sourwood and longan honeys suggests their superior antioxidant capabilities (compared to manuka, tualang, gelam, pineapple, Algerian honey, Indian forest honey, Bangladesh honeys or Cuban honeys).
– measured by DPPH: from 14.04 to 33.74 mg GAE/kg of honey, lower than in coffee 86.20 or manuka 83.80
– measured by FRAP: 627.57 to 899.37 mg FeSO 4 /kg of honey, lower than in coffee 1781.78 or manuka 954.10 but higher than in lychee 319.56 or sesame 279.76. (source)
The antioxidant activity for the different types of honey decreased as follows: sourwood > manuka > longan > gelam > rubber tree honey (in a study on Malaysian honeys).
Antibacterial activity: high, due to hydrogen peroxide activity of the honey. Age and thermal treatment destroyed most of its antibacterial activity.
see What gives honey its antimicrobial power?
Health Benefits of Longan Honey
According to traditional folk medicine longan honey is used to:
– reduce fatigue and restore energy
– improve appetite and digestion
– expel heat and dryness
– improve the quality of sleep
– improve overall physical conditions.
Traditional Chinese Medicine uses longan flowers and seeds for relieving pain and urinary diseases. The logan fruit is use by TCM as a stomachic, febrifuge, and vermifuge, and also as an antidote to poison.
Science has also proved its antioxidant and antimicrobial qualities and its power in fighting cancer.
Successfully fights against MRSA and age related diseases
• The study Activities of different types of Thai honey on pathogenic bacteria causing skin diseases, tyrosinase enzyme and generating free radicals, conducted Kanyaluck Jantakee et al, in 2015, showed that honey from longan flower gave the highest activity on MRSA when compared to the other types of honey, with a minimum inhibitory concentration of 12.5% (v/v) and minimum bactericidal concentration of 25% (v/v).
Yet, after the treatment with catalase enzyme the hydrogen peroxide activity was removed and its antimicrobial activity decreased, while in manuka honey remained the same, due to its non-peroxide activity, its high MGO content. To benefit from longan honey’s antimicrobial properties always use fresh raw honey!
• Malaysian longan honey was found to have very high antioxidant capacity, secondly after Malaysian sourwood honey, thus proving high benefits for all age related diseases.
From the 2 studies cited above which analyzed longan honey from Thailand and Malaysia, we understand that the most nutritious longan honey comes from Malaysia.
We are waiting for research done on Chinese longan honey as China is the largest producer in the world.
Fresh and raw Malaysian longan honey successfully fights against MRSA!
Where can we find logan honey?
Online shops from Asia sell a lot of this product, though we are not exactly sure if we are buying honey or not. Asians make syrup from this fruit and sell it like longan honey. Sometimes we find it like “longan honey syrup” or “longan nectar” and sometimes like “longan honey” – but the producer says in a comment it is actually flavored honey (see Longan Honey – 6.1 lbs. (2.77kg)– an Amazon).
I have listed here what I thought is was real honey. It seems like an adventure to buy some. 🙂
• On Amazon.com from the producer My Choice here are My Choice Thai, Longan Blossom Honey, net weight 192 g or MYChoice 100 percent longan honey 260 g (see picture)
or Thai Honey : Longan Honey Natural 100% 360 g From Thailand.
I’m not sure about the other products.
• From Taiwan here is Longan Flower Honey 100% Pure Raw Honey 700g
• From Thailand: Longan Nectar Honey (500g)
• from Malaysia: LO HONG KA LONGAN BEE HONEY (300G)
• from Singapore: Pure Longan Honey (780G)
References and picture sources:
Longan tree picture credit H. K. Tang via flickr.com
Longan flowers picture credit Forest and Kim Starr via flickr.com
longan druit picture credit JaulaDeArdilla via flickr.com
Volatile organic compounds of Thai honeys produced from several floral sources by different honey bee species, by Praetinee Pattamayutanon et al .2017, PLOS ONE | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0172099 February