If you’ve never tried a kiwifruit, you might be on your way to the grocery store after reading all of the ways it can enhance your health. That’s because kiwi nutrition provides an insane amount of health benefits.
For instance, did you know that kiwi is one of the most nutritious vitamin C foods around? It’s true. In fact, just one cup of kiwi provides almost 275 percent of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin C.
Kiwi’s beneficial phytonutrients combined with the fantastic lineup of vitamins and minerals kiwi nutrition provides create a delicious, nutrient-dense fruit with an impressive list of health benefits.
10 Kiwi Nutrition Health Benefits
This powerful antioxidant fruit has significant amounts of over 20 vital nutrients. Kiwis are low in calories but high in energy, making them a great option for people trying to lose weight. Kiwi nutrition is super heart-healthy thanks to the high levels of potassium — which helps prevent low potassium — fiber and vitamin K. Kiwis are proven to reduce symptoms associated with upper respiratory illnesses as well as digestive illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome.
Kiwi nutrition has elements that help with bone growth and maintenance, eye and vision health, and can even help you sleep better, among the following benefits.
1. Incredible Source of Antioxidant-Powered Vitamin C and E
In one study conducted by the Department of Chemical Toxicology, Division of Environmental Medicine at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, kiwifruit was supplemented to a normal diet and showed that with just one to two golden kiwifruit a day, a marked decrease in internal oxidative damage occurred. (1) A big reason for this is that vitamin C levels in kiwifruit outshine oranges and provide benefits that help repair and maintain a number of body tissues and systems.
In addition, kiwi’s vitamin E content is fat-free and a strong component in lowering cholesterol and fighting free radicals. Aside from the high levels of vitamin C and E, both natural antioxidants, kiwifruit is also rich in polyphenols that have immunostimulatory activity, meaning they can prompt an immune system response. (2)
2. Counteracts Aging and Improves Skin Health
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and the building block that maintains the skin, muscles, bones and tendons. It breaks down as we age and is dependent on vitamin C, which we know kiwifruit has plenty of. (3)
According to research published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology, the polysaccharides in kiwifruit are able to double collagen synthesis in the body, compared to normal conditions when this activity reduces as we age. (4) Kiwi is also host to a carotenoid and antioxidant called lutein, which is incredibly beneficial to skin health by protecting the skin from UV light, marking yet another kiwi nutrition benefit.
3. Improves Respiratory Health
Kiwifruit and other fruits high in vitamin C content have been used successfully to treat a number of respiratory illnesses. Two studies have shown beneficial reactions in both adults and children suffering from asthma and other respiratory illnesses and infections after adding kiwifruit to their diets. Both studies concluded that the fruit was able to enhance the vitamin C concentration in the body, which was able to reduce the symptoms of the patients, including decreasing wheezing, head congestion and duration of sore throat. (5, 6)
4. Good for Vision and Prevention of Eye Disease
Kiwi nutrition’s supply of lutein not only protects the skin, but is also a powerful phytochemical that can prevent many diseases of the eye, including age-related macular degeneration. (7) Lutein is able to protect the eye by filtering out damaging short-wavelength UV light.
Kiwifruit has 171 milligrams of lutein in one large fruit, which is substantially higher than almost any other fruit. (8) Along with lutein, kiwifruit has a great supply of another carotenoid, vitamin A, which is also largely beneficial to optimum eye health. (9)
5. Aids in Digestion
Kiwi has shown promise as a treatment of bowel and digestive disorders. A number of studies have shown kiwi helps reduce complications related to irritable bowel syndrome as well as inflammatory bowel disease. The findings of the studies suggest that adding kiwi to patients’ diets introduced antioxidants and fiber, which were able produce anti-inflammatory results, as well as overall improvements in bowel function. (10, 11)
6. Improves the Cardiovascular System
There’s no doubt kiwifruit is a heart-healthy superstar. One kiwi a day can provide a lower risk of stroke, blood clots and cardiovascular diseases.
The potassium in kiwifruit helps lower blood pressure, counteract sodium in the body and is a vasodilator, relaxing the blood vessels throughout the body. The fiber found in kiwi is also very heart-healthy, along with vitamin K, which is able to prevent the buildup of calcium in the arteries and therefore able to reduce the risk for heart attacks.
Studies have shown that people who regularly consume kiwifruit have 15 percent lowered triglyceride levels compared to those who do not. (12, 13) Kiwifruit is also a great source of omega-3s, magnesium, vitamin E and copper, all of which help keep the cardiovascular system working properly.
7. Bone Maintenance and Repair
Kiwifruit’s substantial supply of vitamin K is needed in your body for more than just healthy arteries. Vitamin K is needed to use calcium to make bones, which is why a vitamin K deficiency can be extremely troublesome. Studies suggest that diets high in vitamin K can improve bone health and reduce the risk of bone-related injuries and diseases like osteoporosis. (14)
8. Serotonin Puts Sleep Problems to Bed
Another kiwi nutrition benefit is its serotonin content. Serotonin may be why the fruit has a long-running reputation for its sleep-aiding abilities. The serotonin in kiwifruit has been shown to increase sleep time and sleep efficiency by 13 percent and 5 percent, respectively, so if you can’t sleep, kiwi may help. (15) There is also evidence to suggest serotonin may also helps boost memory and mood and can even help with depression.
9. Anticancer Effects
The trees in the actinidia family (kiwi trees) have been used as medicinal plants in China for many years, treating ailments like joint pain, bladder stones, and cancers of the liver and esophagus. Both the fruit and roots of kiwi have proven inhibitory effects on human liver, lung and colon cancer cell growth. (16) Thanks to polysaccharide content and the abundance of antioxidants found in kiwi nutrition, studies in mice have shown antitumor and reduction of cancer cells. (17, 18)
These reasons are why kiwi are among some of the best cancer-fighting foods available in nature.
10. Antifungal and Antibacterial Capabilities
Both green and golden kiwifruit have shown antifungal and antibacterial capabilities in several studies. The most antibiotic activity has been found in the seeds, which are commonly consumed with the fruit because of their small size. (19)
The golden kiwi fruit contains a protein called actinchinin, which is suggested as the origin of its antifungal capabilities. Extracts from the kiwifruit have shown antibacterial activity against a number of bacterial strains. These capabilities may also be connected to the large number of antioxidants in the fruit. (20)
Kiwifruit vs. Orange
Both known for their high vitamin C content, kiwifruit and oranges are both great, healthy options to add to your diet. There are only a few differences in kiwi nutrition benefits vs. orange nutrition benefits.
- Both have strong antioxidant abilities and immune-boosting power, thanks to high levels of vitamin C and other nutrients.
- Both fruits are able to help with digestion issues. Oranges can act as diuretics and help draw out toxins from the digestive tract. Kiwifruit is an anti-inflammatory food and helps decrease symptoms of digestive illnesses.
- Both have antibacterial and antimicrobial capabilities.
- Both fruit are heart-healthy due to their ability to lower blood pressure and reduce risk of heart disease.
- Kiwifruit is higher in sugar.
- Oranges are a more powerful pain-reducer and anti-inflammatory.
- Kiwifruit has proven capabilities in building and maintaining bones and plays a major role in preventing or reducing disease of the eye and respiratory system.
- Oranges can be used as antibacterial cleaning agents.
- Kiwifruit fights aging and free radicals with more than just vitamin C; it also has substantial amounts of vitamin A and lutein.
- Oranges are a proven oral health protector, thanks to their antimicrobial capabilities.
A large fresh, raw kiwi without skin has about: (21)
- 56 calories
- 13 grams carbohydrates
- 1 gram protein
- 0.5 gram fat
- 2.7 grams fiber
- 84.4 milligrams vitamin C (141 percent DV)
- 36.7 micrograms vitamin K (46 percent DV)
- 284 milligrams potassium (8 percent DV)
- 1.3 milligrams vitamin E (7 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram copper (6 percent DV)
- 22.7 micrograms folate (6 percent DV)
Kiwi Nutrition History
The kiwifruit, also called the Chinese gooseberry, comes in different varieties — golden kiwi and green kiwi being the most popular. They’re easily added to fruit salads, smoothies, and other delicious meals and snacks, and they’re also great on their own. The flesh of the fruit is sweet, creamy and delicious. But can you eat kiwi skin? Its fuzzy skin is similar to that of a peach, and the fruit can be enjoyed with or without it.
The kiwifruit has a long history of name changes. The original Chinese name, yang tao, means “strawberry peach,” and was later replaced by the name “Chinese gooseberry” by Europeans. When kiwifruit was first exported from China, it was still referred to as the Chinese gooseberry. It was introduced to New Zealand at the turn of the 20th century and was later cultivated there. When the fruit began to be exported from New Zealand, there was an export tax on berries at the time. It was then that the name was changed to kiwifruit to avoid the tax and appeal to a new market. It was named after the kiwi bird, native to New Zealand, which is also small, brown and fuzzy.
Kiwifruit is grown on a a kiwi tree, a woody, climbing shrub that can reach 30 feet tall. Kiwifruit crop can be difficult to establish, and some attempts in California have resulted in failures and lost money.
In 2012, Italy was the top kiwifruit-producing country in the world, with New Zealand following closely behind.
How to Purchase and Prepare Kiwi
Kiwifruit holds well in storage, therefore the season extends from November through April — but it can usually be found in grocery stores year-round. If stored properly, the kiwi can be transported up to eight weeks after harvesting.
When purchasing kiwifruit, size is usually not indicative of quality. Unripe kiwifruit is firm and isn’t at its peak sweetness yet. If you don’t plan to use the kiwifruit within a few days, choose a firm fruit.
Kiwis can be stored at home at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Placing the fruit in a paper bag can speed up ripening to four to six days. Adding an apple or banana to the bag speeds up the process even more. A ripe kiwifruit has the most antioxidants available.
When preparing kiwifruit, you can decide whether to eat the skin or remove it. The fuzzy texture is strange to some, but others liken it to the skin of a pear or a peach. The easiest and quickest way to peel a kiwi is to cut off each end and slide a spoon around the edge to remove the rest.
Kiwifruit can be eaten raw, used in baked goods and pastries, made into juice, or even used to tenderize meat. The protein actinidain, present in kiwifruit, creates an enzymatic reaction that’s able to tenderize food. When tenderizing meat, you can use the flesh of the kiwifruit for about 10 minutes by rubbing the meat and cook immediately afterward.
The presence of this protein also makes kiwi an ingredient you want to add last to dishes that include dairy products like whipped cream or gelatin-based desserts, as it liquifies them. Same goes for fruit salads, because the kiwi actually has the ability to tenderize itself as well. Add kiwi as the final touch when preparing these dishes.
You can enjoy kiwi in so many ways:
- Cut it in half and enjoy a natural bowl of green goodness
- Blend it into a healthy smoothie
- Freeze kiwi into popsicles for a cool treat in the summer
- Toss kiwifruit into fruit or green salads
- Mix kiwi into your favorite yogurt parfait
The following kiwifruit recipes are delicious ways to incorporate this phenomenal fruit into your regular diet:
Potential Side Effects of Kiwi
Kiwifruit allergy is very common and responsible for 10 percent of all food allergy reactions in children. People with allergies to latex and other fruits like avocados and bananas should be especially cautious. Kiwifruit allergy can result in oral allergy syndrome, hives (from consumption or contact), swelling, itchy/watery eyes, irritation of the nose and mouth, and anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. (22)
Individuals on beta-blockers should consume kiwifruit in moderation, as the potassium found in the fruit can alter the potassium levels to higher than is healthy. Heightened potassium can be harmful to the kidneys, especially for those with kidney illness.
Kiwifruit also has the capability to slow blood clotting in some individuals, and could negatively affect people with bleeding disorders. If you’re going to have surgery, it’s recommended to stop consuming kiwi at least two weeks before the surgery.
Kiwi Nutrition Takeaways
- Just one cup of kiwi provides almost 275 percent of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin C.
- Kiwi nutrition benefits include providing powerful antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E, counteracting aging and improving skin health, improving respiratory health, protecting vision and preventing eye disease, aiding in digestion, improving the cardiovascular system, maintaining and repairing bone health, aiding sleep, fighting cancer, and providing antifungal and antibacterial capabilities.
Read Next: Top 10 Vitamin C Foods
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