Did you know that kiwi is native to China and that it is also the national fruit of the country? Originally known in this country as ‘Yang Tao’, it is an oval-shaped, dull brown colored fruit with a fuzzy texture.
The powerful health benefits of kiwifruit include improved skin care and cardiovascular health. It may also aid in lowering the risk of insomnia, some types of cancer, macular degeneration, and diabetes. Due to the flavonoid-rich compounds found in kiwi, it also helps during pregnancy and promotes the absorption of iron in the body. Besides, the anti-microbial properties of kiwi guard against a range of pathogens and strengthen the immune system.
What is Kiwi?
Kiwifruit is a delicious berry that grows on a woody, twining vine. Also known as Chinese gooseberry, it belongs to the Actinidia genus, which includes about 60 species. Globally, the most consumed varieties are the ‘fuzzy’ and ‘golden.’
The inside pulp of kiwi is a vivid, bright green flesh with a radiant pattern of lighter-colored spikes, freckled with a few tiny, edible black seeds. Kiwifruit has a unique and tangy flavor with a soft and creamy texture.
Fun Fact: After going through multiple names, the fruit was finally in the honor of the national bird of New Zealand – the small, fuzzy, brown appearance resembles the fur coat of the flightless brown kiwi bird.
Serving Size : Nutrient Value Water [g] 83.07 Energy 61 Energy [kJ] 255 Protein [g] 1.14 Total lipid (fat) [g] 0.52 Ash [g] 0.61 Carbohydrate, by difference [g] 14.66 Fiber, total dietary [g] 3 Sugars, total including NLEA [g] 8.99 Sucrose [g] 0.15 Glucose (dextrose) [g] 4.11 Fructose [g] 4.35 Maltose [g] 0.19 Galactose [g] 0.17 Calcium, Ca [mg] 34 Iron, Fe [mg] 0.31 Magnesium, Mg [mg] 17 Phosphorus, P [mg] 34 Potassium, K [mg] 312 Sodium, Na [mg] 3 Zinc, Zn [mg] 0.14 Copper, Cu [mg] 0.13 Manganese, Mn [mg] 0.1 Selenium, Se [µg] 0.2 Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg] 92.7 Thiamin [mg] 0.03 Riboflavin [mg] 0.03 Niacin [mg] 0.34 Pantothenic acid [mg] 0.18 Vitamin B-6 [mg] 0.06 Folate, total [µg] 25 Folate, food [µg] 25 Folate, DFE [µg] 25 Choline, total [mg] 7.8 Betaine [mg] 0.5 Vitamin A, RAE [µg] 4 Carotene, beta [µg] 52 Vitamin A, IU [IU] 87 Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg] 122 Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg] 1.46 Tocopherol, gamma [mg] 0.03 Tocotrienol, gamma [mg] 0.1 Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg] 40.3 Fatty acids, total saturated [g] 0.03 16:0 [g] 0.02 18:0 [g] 0.01 Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g] 0.05 18:1 [g] 0.05 Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g] 0.29 18:2 [g] 0.25 18:3 [g] 0.04 Tryptophan [g] 0.02 Threonine [g] 0.05 Isoleucine [g] 0.05 Leucine [g] 0.07 Lysine [g] 0.06 Methionine [g] 0.02 Cystine [g] 0.03 Phenylalanine [g] 0.04 Tyrosine [g] 0.03 Valine [g] 0.06 Arginine [g] 0.08 Histidine [g] 0.03 Alanine [g] 0.05 Aspartic acid [g] 0.13 Glutamic acid [g] 0.18 Glycine [g] 0.06 Proline [g] 0.04 Serine [g] 0.05 Sources include : USDA
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, kiwi is an excellent source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Other vitamins including vitamin A, folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K are also present in this fruit. The nutritional breakdown of kiwi also includes minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. It also contains antioxidants and dietary fiber.
A 100 gram serving of raw kiwifruit has around 61 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates.
Health Benefits of Kiwi
The growing popularity of the kiwifruit gives credence to its amazing blend, unique appearance, flavor, and nutritional assets. The benefits of the fruit for your health may include the following.
Reduces Asthma Symptoms
Due to the high antioxidant and vitamin C content in kiwifruit, it is known for reducing the symptoms of asthma. It may improve lung function and also prevents wheezing among children. It is not yet proven with conviction as many people have also seen adverse effects after consuming kiwi. Make sure to consult with your doctor before you try anything new.
Promotes Gut Health
Kiwi proves valuable nutrients for maintaining a healthy digestive system. It is a delicious source of fiber, which promotes digestion and maintains intestinal health. Dr. Margot Skinner, in her co-authored book “Bioactives in Fruit: Health Benefits and Functional Foods” says that kiwifruits are now widely recognized for their strong laxative properties, confirmed by controlled clinical studies.”
It helps in providing relief from constipation by stimulating the bowel system. The natural laxative properties of this fruit – mainly owing to its fiber content – adds bulk to the stool and make it soft.
A study conducted on kiwi revealed that it is rich in proteolytic enzyme actinidin, which is known for improving the digestion of proteins and facilitates smooth movement through the digestive system. Polysaccharides present in the fruit help in averting the adhesion of enteropathogens and stimulating the probiotic bacteria in the colon. Kiwi extracts promote the growth of lactic acid, inhibit the development of Escherichia Coli bacteria, and aid in sustaining digestive health.
The presence of rich minerals in kiwi helps in neutralizing acidity in the stomach, thereby reducing the discomfort and nausea caused by it.
Kiwi contributes favorably to the regulation of the innate and adaptive immune system, according to literature in Advances in Food and Nutrition Research. This is very critical for the healthy functioning of the body. In fact, it also helps in fighting seasonal infections due to its antimicrobial and antifungal action.
Kiwi extracts have shown to prevent the multiplying of bacteria without destroying them against various pathogens including Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus pyogenes. Kiwifruit also helps in reducing the symptoms of cold and flu and other upper respiratory tract infections. It also exerts anti-inflammatory effects and exhibits the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Antioxidant & Vitamin C-Rich
Kiwi offers an impressive amount of vitamin C, phenolic components, and carotenoids which promote good health. A comparative study involving kiwi, oranges, and grapefruit revealed that kiwifruit contains stronger antioxidant properties as compared to the latter. Attributing this to the presence of nourishing phytochemicals, it can protect the DNA present in the body cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals, thereby reducing the risk of inflammation and diseases.
Kiwi has a low glycemic index (GI) which makes it suitable for people with diabetes. According to a 2013 report in Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, 100 grams of kiwi fruit is equivalent to 5 grams or 1 teaspoon of glucose in its effect on blood glucose levels.
Reduces Blood Clotting
According to the study by Dr. Asim Duttaroy of the University of Oslo in Norway, consumption of kiwifruits daily helps in reducing the platelet aggression response or the risk of blood clotting. This fibrinolytic effect of the fruit on your blood vessels implies helping prevent the risk of thromboembolic and cardiac disorders like atherosclerosis.
Improves Heart Health
Kiwifruit is rich in protective polyphenols, which along with vitamin C, vitamin E, and potassium help maintain cardiovascular health. An investigative study revealed that this fruit exerts inhibitory activities that aid in the reduction of triglycerides in the blood, thereby improving overall heart health.
The bioactive compounds present in kiwis can help lower blood pressure levels in the body. It therefore also helps mitigate the risk of certain conditions caused by high blood pressure, including strokes and heart attacks.
Kiwi, being a rich source of phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin, is suitable for eye care, says a study by Dr. Olaf Sommerburg, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Texas Medical Branch, US. These helpful components along with vitamin A protect the eyes from cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and other vision-destroying disorders.
With a 100 gram serving of kiwis containing only 61 calories, they become great food for weight loss. Their distinct taste also comes with soluble fiber which promotes satiety and hence reduces the hunger pangs.
Induces Better Sleep
According to a study, kiwi is a good source of serotonin, which helps in improving sleep quality in adults with sleep disturbances. It may also help in improving the sleep onset and in reducing waking time after the onset. However, more scientific research is required.
This fruit contains flavonoids such as quercetin, naringenin, rutin, catechin, and epicatechin, which modulate the sleep-inducing receptors and are considered an effectual plant-based sedative agent. Attributing to this, the peel of kiwi is a potent ingredient for the development of natural sleeping aids.
Improves Iron Absorption
Kiwi is a rich source of vitamin C and many phytochemicals such as lutein and zeaxanthin that help prevent iron deficiency disorders. A comparative study published in the British Journal of Nutrition performed between kiwi and banana has revealed that consumption of kiwi along with an iron-rich breakfast cereal results in a significant increase in iron in the body as compared to banana.
Beneficial in Pregnancy
Kiwi is a perfect fruit for a pregnant woman due to the abundance of folate in it. Folate helps prevent the occurrence of neural tube defects in unborn babies and is essential for their brain and cognitive growth. Other vital nutrients such as vitamin C, E, and K along with flavonoids present in the fruit also contribute to the overall health and development of the fetus and the expectant mother.
Kiwifruit helps maintain healthy and smooth skin due to its significant contribution to the process of collagen synthesis. It contains vitamin C, which helps the skin become firm and expedite the healing of cuts and abrasions. Vitamin E in kiwi assists in reducing the fine lines and the appearance of wrinkles. It also helps in reducing the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation on the skin, while the antioxidants present in this fruit work as a perfect anti-aging agent and prevent the skin from early degeneration, and keep it rejuvenated.
According to Dr. Sachin Tyagi, Bihar Agriculture University, extracts of the kiwifruit inhibit the proliferation of cancerous cells and protect against endogenous DNA damage. The fruit works against cancer by being cytotoxic to cancer cells without affecting the normal, healthy cells.
How to Serve Kiwi?
Kiwifruit can be eaten in several ways, as mentioned below.
- Add it to your fruit salads for a naturally tangy flavor.
- You can also make a kiwi pineapple smoothie for a refreshing boost.
- Make kiwi kebabs by cutting it into cubes and using a nice stick to serve.
- Add kiwi syrups to your cocktails and mocktails for an added flavor.
It contains tenderizing enzyme papain which is useful in breaking down the fibrous tissues of tough meats. However, for this same reason, kiwi does not go well with gelatin-based products. Papain enzyme is also known to have a curdling effect on the milk. In case, you intend to use kiwi in any dairy or gelatin-based products, cook it for a while to neutralize the enzymes.
How to Select & Store Kiwi?
- Pick up kiwis that are soft and firm and avoid those with bruises or damp spots. Ripe kiwi would yield to gentle pressure.
- If you have bought raw kiwis, they can be ripened by keeping at room temperature away from heat or sunlight for a couple of days or by placing them with an apple or banana in a paper bag to speed up the ripening.
- Ripe kiwi can be stored in the refrigerator for about two weeks.
Kiwifruit can pose certain side effects including the following:
- Allergic Reactions: The allergic reactions may vary from a mild, oral allergy to fatal conditions such as anaphylaxis which may be fatal. Studies suggest that the presence of significant allergens in the kiwifruit can cause severe reactions predominantly in young children.
- Oxalates: Kiwi is a source of oxalate raphide crystals. Excessive consumption of oxalate-rich foods like kiwi can pose a threat to the development of calcium oxalate kidney stones in some individuals. It may also interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients including calcium and magnesium in the body.
Other Side Effects
- Oral allergy syndrome (OAS)
- Latex allergy
- Pancreatitis problem
- Bleeding disorders
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult their doctor before eating this fruit. The fruit has natural blood-thinning qualities without any side effects like aspirin, but still, moderation is advised.