Health Benefits of Kiwi Fruit
From its name, a kiwi fruit (also known as Kiwifruit, Kiwi, or Chinese gooseberry) may seem to originate in New Zealand. However, it has actually originated in northern China and travelled to New Zealand in the early 20th century and then got its name initially as Chinese gooseberry. But since heavy duties were charged on berries at the time of export, its name was changed to kiwifruit.
Kiwifruit is sweet as well as tart to taste and has an innate coolness. It has juicy pulp which is attractively green in color and is studded with soft black edible seeds. The outer covering (skin) of the fruit is silky brown and hairy and is edible. But one can get the health benefits of the kiwifruit by just eating even the pulp.
While the fruit shares its appearance with the national bird of New Zealand, Kiwi, which is also brown, fuzzy and with a small round body just like the fruit, it’s extremely nutrient-rich and low in calories. Naturally, it’s certainly beneficial from the health point of view.
Kiwifruit Health Benefits
Excellent Source of Folate
No wonder, the Chinese valued kiwifruit a lot for its medicinal properties. This fruit is a rich source of folate, which is beneficial for pregnant women since it helps in the development of fetus and makes it healthy. It’s also believed to be good for the growth of children.
Loaded with Vitamins and Minerals
Kiwifruit is rich with vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, E and iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. All these together help in proper functioning of the body, blood circulation, iron absorption for healthy teeth and bones, fighting stress and good vision etc. Potassium levels in kiwifruit is very high i.e. 312 mg per 100 grams and helps in maintaining blood pressure whereas magnesium in kiwifruit helps in proper functioning of muscles and nerves.
Excellent Source of Vitamin C
Kiwifruit contains 154% of vitamin C per 100 grams which is significantly high, i.e. twice that of oranges and lemons. Vitamin C is a known antioxidant that nullifies free radicals that can cause inflammation and cancer. Vitamin C also improves immunity against disease-causing pathogens.
Excellent Source of Dietary Fiber
Kiwifruit is rich with dietary fiber which is helpful in preventing several diseases. As per a University of Leeds study, increasing the intake of fiber-laden foods (like kiwi fruit) can reduce the risk of both coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School have endorsed that fiber-laden foods keep a person feel full for longer and control metabolic markers like cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. It also promotes weight loss and is usually recommended to diabetics.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Since kiwifruit contains high amount of potassium, it helps lower high blood pressure. Just as high sodium intake is a risk factor for high blood pressure, low potassium intake is also a risk factor. A 2014 study found that the bioactive compounds in three kiwifruits per day can reduce blood pressure more than an apple a day. In the long run, this may also refer to a reduced risk of conditions that can result from high blood pressure, such as heart attack and stroke.
Makes Heart Healthy
Kiwifruits also contain omega 3 fatty acids, polyphenols and carotenoids, and therefore it’s excellent for heart health. Plus, kiwifruits is rich in potassium and fiber which are also good for heart health. Increased potassium intake together with reduced consumption of sodium can help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Lowers Blood Clotting
Kiwifruits can even lower blood clotting. A study conducted by the University of Oslo revealed that consuming 2 to 3 kiwifruits a day remarkably lowered the risk of blood clotting. Kiwifruits were also found to lower the levels of fat in the blood. Researchers are of opinion that these effects were similar to those of a daily dose of aspirin to enhance heart health which can cause side effects like bleeding in the intestines and inflammation.
Study volunteers eating 2 to 3 kiwifruits every day reduced their platelet aggregation response (potential risk for blood clot formation) by 18% as compared to those who ate no kiwi. Also, kiwifruit eaters experienced a drop in triglyceride levels by 15% as compared to non-kiwi-eaters.
Helps in Digestion
There is an enzyme in kiwifruit known as actinidain which has protein dissolving properties, just like that of papain in papaya. Because of this property, the fruit is often used as a meat tenderizer. Naturally, it is helpful in digesting meat and also helps in irritable bowel syndrome.
There are many studies which have found that kiwifruit may have mild laxative properties and can be given as a dietary supplement to patients of constipation. Regular intake of kiwifruit was found to promote formation of softer, bulkier and more frequent stools.
Treatment of Asthma
With its high amounts of antioxidants and especially vitamin C, kiwifruit is supposed to treat asthma. A 2000 study revealed that those who consumed fresh fruits regularly including kiwifruits experienced a beneficial effect on their lung function. Fresh fruits like kiwi could also lower wheezing in vulnerable children. Shortness of breath in these children was reduced by 32%, nighttime cough by 27%, runny nose by 28%, chronic cough by 25% and severe wheeze by 41%.
Protection of Vision
A leading cause of vision loss is macular degeneration and kiwifruits can protect one’s eyes from this. A study has found that by consuming three or more servings of kiwifruit a day, macular degeneration was reduced by 36%. The high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in kiwifruits are supposed to cause this effect.
Only 1 cup of kiwifruit provides around 273 percent of daily recommended value of vitamin C which is an essential nutrient with regard to boosting immune system to protect against diseases. According to a study, kiwifruit may boost immune function and lower the chances of developing illnesses like cold and flu.
Reduces Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress can lead to damage to DNA which in turn can cause health problems. According to an older study, regular intake of kiwifruit or kiwi extract lowers the likelihood of oxidative stress.
Since oxidative DNA damage is associated to colon cancer, regular consumption of kiwifruit can reduce the chances of colon cancer too.
As per a research conducted by Taipei Medical University, several studies have shown that kiwifruit consists of numerous medicinally important compounds including antioxidants and serotonin that may benefit in the treatment of sleep disorders. It’s believed that eating two kiwifruits one hour before going to bed can hugely help in inducing sleep.
Lowers Formation of Kidney Stones
Since kiwifruit contains high amount of potassium, it is associated to reduction in the formation of kidney stones, lower risk of stroke, preservation of bone mineral density and protection against loss of muscle mass.
Makes Skin Healthy
Kiwifruit is alkaline in nature, due to which it helps in countering effects of acidic foods that people often consume. A body which has a good pH balance is always healthy, active, energetic and with healthy skin. Vitamins C and E in kiwifruit are supposed to be good for skin as they act as antioxidants, stopping skin degradation. Also, vitamin C in kiwifruit helps in the formation of collagen that maintains skin’s elasticity and youthfulness.
The vitamin also prevents damage to skin caused by the sun, smoke and pollution, and softens wrinkles and enhances overall texture of skin. You can either eat kiwifruit or apply a few slices of the fruit on skin or do both to get a youthful skin.
Nutritional Profile of Kiwifruit
A medium kiwifruit (69 grams) contains:
|- Calories: 42 (2% DRI/DV)
- Proteins: 0.79 grams (2% DRI/DV)
- Carbohydrates: 10.12 grams (4% DRI/DV)
- Fat: 0.36 grams (0% DRI/DV)
- Fiber: 2.07 grams (7% DRI/DV)
- Vitamin B1: 0.02 mg (2% DRI/DV)
- Vitamin B2: 0.02 mg (2% DRI/DV)
- Vitamin B3: 0.24 mg (2% DRI/DV)
- Vitamin B6: 0.04 mg (2% DRI/DV)
- Vitamin C: 63.96 mg (85% DRI/DV)
|- Vitamin E: 1.01 mg (7% DRI/DV)
- Vitamin K: 27.81 mcg (31% DRI/DV)
- Copper: 0.09 mg (10% DRI/DV)
- Potassium: 215.28 mg (5% DRI/DV)
- Calcium: 23.46 mg (2% DRI/DV)
- Magnesium: 11.73 mg (3% DRI/DV)
- Iron: 0.21 mg (1% DRI/DV)
- Zinc: 0.10 mg (1% DRI/DV)
- Folate: 17.25 mcg (4% DRI/DV)
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 0.03 grams (1% DRI/DV)
Kiwifruit is mostly regarded as safe. However, those who are allergic should be cautious while eating this fruit. Kiwi allergy symptoms include swollen tongue, itchy throat, vomiting, problematic swallowing and hives. The risk of allergy to kiwifruit increases if one is also allergic to avocados, hazelnuts, figs, poppy seeds, wheat and latex (given below).
Rarely, kiwifruits can slow blood clotting, thereby increasing bleeding. This could increase the seriousness of bleeding disorders. If a person has a bleeding disorder or will be having a surgery, he should avoid eating kiwifruits.
Another rare side effect is latex-fruit syndrome which is a condition related to the possible reaction of one’s immune system to particular proteins occurring in natural rubber (from the tree Hevea brasiliensis) and very similar proteins occurring in some foods like kiwifruit.
Kiwifruits rarely cause any health issues, but it is important to know them and to be able to recognize them.
For short: not only that kiwifruit has many health benefits, it also tastes great. It has specific fragrance and aroma and can be consumed as part of salads, juices or simply as a - fruit.
When combined with other fruits and foods in general, kiwifruit increases vitamin, mineral and fiber content, with minimal increase in (healthy) carbs.
Very simple to make and rather healthy juice is orange-kiwi juice which can be made in no time and provides the body with a large dose of vitamins and antioxidants.