South-East Asia is the capital of exotic fruits. From durians to mangosteens (manggis), chempedak to the langsat, the rose apple (jambu merah) to the pomelo, we have it all. Throughout the year, the bounty of our lands offers us the best of the earth, for pleasure and enjoyment. Photo Credit: Healthline Hairy Wonder In a previous article, we explored at length, the surprising nutritional benefits our delectable durian offers to those who partake of its creamy flesh. Pregnant and lactating Mums out there were pleased to discover having your durian and eating it is good for Mummy and good for the baby. The durian reigns unsurpassed as the King of the Fruits. Then, we made forays into the nutritional benefits of the mangosteen. Mums out there were again pleasantly surprised to read about its succulent goodness. Additionally, pregnant and lactating Mums now can partake of the fruit without worry. It is undeniably good for you! The mangosteen is Queen to our veritable King. To continue our series on Malaysian fruits, we thought of delving into the benefits and delights of our hairy favourite, the luscious rambutan, especially since it is now in season. A quick glance reveals that the rambutan, much like the durian and mangosteen, packs a powerful nutritional punch. Since it is in season now, feel free to fill up on its sweet goodness. Pregnant and lactating Mums included! Photo Credit: Flickr Fruiting Seasons The hardy rambutan fruits twice a year. Good news for rambutan lovers out there, since you get seconds, every year. The main fruiting season is between June to August, when the Southwest Monsoon has the country in its grip. The weather then is hot and dry.\u00a0 The second fruiting season runs from November to January, during the Northeast Monsoon, when the country experiences its heavy rains. Perhaps because it is wet and rainy almost all the time, the popularity of the fruit is somewhat dampened. Rambutans are best relished, after all, when hot and sunny. Photo Credit: COSSMA Delectably Delicious\u00a0 Malaysians need no convincing to down one, two or more of this uniquely hairy fruit, when the season comes around. It may be small in size, but there is a whole lot packed into this little hairy wonder. To delve further, just keep on scrolling. Photo Credit: Enganoor Rambutans Mean Hairy The rambutan is possibly the only fruit in the world that is hairy. In Malay, rambut means hair. An apt name indeed! While some fruits sport a fuzzy skin, for example, the kiwi, the rambutan's hairiness is undisputedly its unique characteristic. Photo Credit: The Earth Of India Red Rambutan, Yellow Rambutan Rambutans come in two colours, red and yellow. Unripe rambutans are green and very sour. Twisting them open is hard work indeed, as the skin is tough, and thick. As rambutans ripen, the skin becomes thinner, making it easier to twist or pry open. To pick the best fruit, choose the one with the brightest colours. Avoid rambutans which have turned black, as those are overripe. Photo Credit: Amazon.in Uniquely Southeast Asian Rambutan trees grow best in Southeast Asia.\u00a0 The fruit is so popular, many households have their very own homegrown trees, right in their backyards. The drawback to having rambutan trees at home are the unwanted guests they attract. From monkeys, crows and squirrels, to the weaver (kerengga) ants, they come in droves to feast on the delicious, sweet fruit. If you do not have your own homegrown tree, fret not. When in season, the fruit is plentiful. Just head on to your favourite greengrocer and bag as many fruit as needed. Photo Credit: HuffPost Yep, They're Related The lychee, longan and rambutan\u00a0all derive from the soapberry (Sapindaceae) tree. So, in a sense, they are cousins. Pry open their skins, the flesh within is a succulent white. That is where the similarity ends. Each fruit has its own distinct taste. And they are all delicious! Photo Credit: Life SE Asia Magazine Rambutans - Chockfull Of Goodness Good things come in small packages and the rambutan is certainly no exception. Here are some reasons to make this a regular snack for all at home. Photo Credit: McGill University Antioxidants Aplenty Rambutans have antioxidants, which are essential in preventing, or at least slowing down the effects of free radicals in your body. Free radicals are caused by internal or external stressors which come through lifestyle choices we make, the food we consume and the pollution all around us. When unchecked, free radicals can cause premature ageing, and a host of other chronic diseases. To counter that, eating foods containing antioxidants is highly encouraged. Photo Credit: Verywell Fit A Whole Food The durian has won hands down as a whole food. Not just tasty, it is also loaded with vitamins and nutrients. The same can be said of the mangosteen. Curiously, how does the rambutan stack up against them? A quick parsing of the fruit shows this hairy one is a strong contender. Photo Credit: The List Caloric Count Just looking at the caloric count, the most basic measure of any food component, we found that durians contained 147 calories, mangosteens, a cool 70 calories, and our hairy fruit,\u00a0 78 calories, per 100 grams. By way of comparison, and for a broader perspective, using the same measurements, apples contain 52 calories, oranges 51 calories, and kiwis 61, calories. As Goldilocks would agree, the rambutan is just right, going by local standards, that is. Photo Credit: Metabolic Research Center Fats And Such Again, using the same measurements, the rambutan has 0.2 grams of fat to the 5.33 grams in the durian, and 0.56 grams found in the mangosteen. As far as fat count goes, it is the skinniest of the lot. Rambutans also contain protein and carbs. For the carb count, durians rank at the high end with 27.09 grams of carbs to the 19.88 grams found in the rambutan. The mangosteen has the least amount, at a low of 17.17 grams. As for protein, the durian contains 1.47 grams to the 0.62 grams found in the rambutan. The mangosteen has the least amount of protein in the threesome, at a low of 0.39 grams. Photo Credit: Adelholding Blog Vitamins and Minerals Rambutans contain Vitamins A and C. Additionally, the fruit also contains calcium, magnesium, potassium and folate. Expecting mums out there rest easy, since these vitamins and minerals are good for baby, and good for you. Photo Credit: Nutri Low Down Fibre Fruits and veggies come with fibre included, and the rambutan is no exception.\u00a0 100 grams of the fruit has 1 gram of fibre. While it does not have as much fibre as the durian, which stands at a whopping 9.2 grams or the mangosteen which has 1.4 grams, it does add up, when eaten with other food. Fibre is very important in keeping you regular, especially when expecting, and constipation can raise its distressing head. Photo Credit: Local Guides Connect Whole Food vs Whole Fruit While the rambutan is safe to consume as a fruit, its seed and skin are best left in the bin, or compost heap. Studies have shown that consuming the skins and the seed of the rambutan in high doses can be toxic.\u00a0 Most of us would not eat the seed and skins, but caution should be exercised when opening the fruit. The easiest way has always been biting the fruit open or twisting the skin, as you would open the top of a glass container.\u00a0 Skins, however, can contain all manner and form of dirt, pesticides and germs. As such, the best way to open the fruit would be to slice it, using a sharp knife. Then, simply wash off the debris and enjoy. Or, leave it chilling in the fridge, for later. Photo Credit: Malayala Manorama Deliciously Versatile You can have your rambutans any way you like it. Eat it fresh off the branch, or peel, and leave it to chill in your fridge. Chilled rambutans make great snacks on a hot day. Freeze-dried rambutans are a good no-drip option, especially when on the go. Choose the no added sugar ones as a healthier option. Pack school or work bags with resealable packets for a quick snack, when out and about. Make a jelly of diced rambutans, throw it into a salad or juice it up, to gulp it down. If you prefer something more substantial, make a smoothie of it. No time to juice? Not to worry, just grab a ready-to-drink rambutan juice pack to slake your thirst. And if you are hankering for rambutans out of season, not to worry, canned varieties are also available. How's that for choice? As always, choose produce with lower sugar content, or drain the syrup before consuming. Now with the season in, the feasting can begin. Enjoy everyone! Read more to find out whether durians are safe to be eaten during pregnancy or how good mangosteens and mangoes are for pregnant mothers and stay tuned with Motherhood Story for more pregnancies and parenting needs.