Kiwifruit is native to China, where it is also the national fruit. Originally known as ‘Yang Tao’, it is an oval-shaped, dull brown colored fruit with a fuzzy texture. The inside pulp is a vivid, semi-translucent, 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. Italy, New Zealand, France, Japan, Chile, and the United States are the major contributors to the commercial production of this fruit, where it went through various name changes. After going through multiple names, the fruit was finally named as ‘kiwi’ in the honor of the national bird of New Zealand for its small, fuzzy, brown appearance resembling the fur coat of the flightless brown kiwi bird.
Benefits of kiwi fruit
- Treats Asthma – Due to the high antioxidant and vitamin C content in kiwifruit, it is known to treat asthma. It improves lung function and also prevents wheezing among children.
- Aids in Digestion – Kiwi proves valuable for maintaining a healthy digestive system. It is a delicious source of fiber which promotes digestion and maintains intestinal health. Dr. Margot Skinner, Vice-President of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) in her co-authored book ‘Bioactives in Fruit: Health Benefits and Functional Foods’ says, “Kiwifruits are now widely recognized for their strong laxative properties, and these have been confirmed by controlled clinical studies.” It helps in providing relief from constipation by stimulating the bowel system. The natural laxative properties of this fruit owing to its fiber content add bulk to the stool and make it soft. A study conducted on kiwi revealed that it is rich in proteolytic enzyme actinidin, which improves the digestion of proteins and facilitates smooth traffic 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.
- Boosts Immunity – Kiwi contributes favorably to the regulation of the innate and adaptive immune system which is very critical for the healthy functioning of the body. Consumption of kiwifruit helps in fighting seasonal infections and other ailments attributing to its anti-microbial and anti-fungal action. Extracts from kiwi have shown to exert bacteriostatic action against various pathogens including Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus pyogenes. Kiwifruit 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 to the presence of nourishing phytochemicals, it has the ability to protect the DNA present in the body cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals, thereby reducing the risk of inflammation and diseases.
- Controls Diabetes – Kiwi has a low glycemic index (GI) which makes it suitable for diabetics. A study conducted on kiwi extracts demonstrated that intake of this fruit helps regulate adipogenesis, which is critical for preventing diabetes. Dysfunction of adipose tissues in the body is strongly implicated in the development of insulin resistance and diabetes.
- Reduces Blood Clotting – According to the study by Dr. Asim Dutta Roy, University of Oslo, Norway, consumption of a few kiwis on a daily basis helps in reducing the platelet aggression response or the risk of blood clotting. This fibrinolytic effect of the fruit on your blood vessels prevents the risk of thromboembolic and cardiac disorders like atherosclerosis.
- Regulates Blood Pressure – The bioactive compounds present in kiwis can help lower the 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.
- 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 which aid in the reduction of triglycerides in the blood, thereby improving overall heart health.
- Promotes Vision – Kiwi, being a rich source of phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin, is suitable for eye care. These helpful components along with vitamin A protect the eyes from cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and other vision-destroying disorders.
- Weight Loss – With a 100 gram serving of kiwis containing only 55 calories, they become a 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 pel 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.
- Skin Care – 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.
- Prevents Cancer – Kiwifruit has been traditionally trusted in Chinese folk medicine for its effectiveness in healing various types of cancers such as colon cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, and lung cancer. 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 malignant cancer cells without affecting the normal, healthy cells. The antioxidants, carotenoids, vitamins, and fiber contribute beneficially to the effectiveness of kiwi in the prevention or healing of cancers. Catechin, a phytochemical present in kiwi helps in reducing the toxicity of anti-cancer agents by stimulating the bone marrow proliferation.
- Treats Cystic Fibrosis – Kiwifruit contains kissper, a cysteine-rich peptide, which may prove valuable in the treatment of cystic fibrosis.
- Anti-fungal – Kiwi is used in the preparation of anti-microbial products to reduce the development of resistance towards the conventional medications for fungal and bacterial infectivity.
- Treats Arthritis – Attributing to its anti-inflammatory properties, kiwi is valuable in treating rheumatoid arthritis.
- Improves Alkaline Balance – The presence of rich minerals in kiwi helps in neutralizing acidity in the stomach, thereby reducing the discomfort and nausea caused by it.
Adding kiwis to your diet
Kiwifruit can be consumed raw, used in shakes, smoothies or eaten in a number of ways, as mentioned below.
- Fruit salad: Owing to its characteristic looks and refreshing taste, kiwifruit can bring an amazing tropical style to your fruit salad dish.
- Bakery products: Nutrient-dense kiwi can be used as a functional ingredient to prepare bakery products with an enhanced health factor. It contains a 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 milk. In case, you intend to use kiwi in any dairy or gelatin based products, cook it for a while to neutralize the enzymes.
The best time to eat kiwi is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
Kiwifruit can pose certain side effects including the following:
- Allergic Reactions: The allergic reactions may vary from 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.
Recipe for Kiwi – mint julep
Ready In 15 m, Serving size: 1 cocktail, Per serving: 184 calories
3 tablespoons sugar
Granulated White Pure Cane Sugar
½ cup hot water
2 cups ice
3 kiwis, peeled
2 tablespoons frozen limeade
2 tablespoons chopped mint
3 ounces bourbon, optional
Dissolve sugar in hot water in a 1-cup measure; let cool slightly.
Combine ice, kiwis, limeade, mint, the sugar mixture and bourbon, if using, in a blender; blend until smooth.
Recipe for Kiwi salsa
Prep – 15 m, Ready In – 1 h 15 m, 78 calories
6 kiwis, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon curry powder
Mix kiwi, onion, jalapeno pepper, lime juice, olive oil, honey, cumin, and curry powder together in bowl. Cover and allow to rest for 1 hour at room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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