Kiwi fruit is a favorite of salad lovers. This exotic fruit is known for its attractive bright green color and its wonderful and distinct flavor. However, much is not known about this fruit as it is produced in a very few countries and not available easily. Also known as Chinese gooseberry and Macaque fruit, kiwi fruit is an edible berry of a wooden vine which has its origin in China. It is the national fruit of China. It is basically an oval shaped fruit with a fibrous dull greenish brown skin and bright green or golden flesh containing several rows of tiny black edible seeds. It is approximately the size of a hen’s egg and weighs about 125 grams. Its flesh has a soft and fuzzy texture and a unique soft flavor which is a blend of strawberry, apple, pineapple and banana fruits.
Here we are talking about the fuzzy kiwi fruit but there are several other varieties of kiwi fruit depending upon the type of cultivar. Some other varieties of this fruit are the following.
- Hardy kiwi fruit: Also known as baby kiwi, it is much smaller than the fuzzy variety and resembles a large grape with smooth edible skin. It has the same color and texture as the fuzzy kiwi fruit but has an intense flavor and sweetness.
- Gold kiwi fruit: This is a hybrid variety developed in New Zealand. It has smooth sparse hairs and bronze like skin with a pointed cap on one end and a distinct golden yellow flesh. It has a less tart and more tropical flavor than green kiwi fruit and hence, enjoys greater commercial value.
Health Benefits of Kiwi Fruit:
Kiwi fruit has a much greater role to play than making the salads more attractive. Since ancient times, it has been considered a health tonic in China and was given to women after childbirth and children to improve immunity. It is a power food which provides the following health benefits.
1. Improves Digestion:
Kiwis are a very good source of dietary fiber which improves digestive health and binds and removes toxins from the colon, thus preventing colon cancer. It also prevents constipation and other gastrointestinal issues. Actinidain is a protein dissolving enzyme in raw kiwi which aids digestion and is similar to papain in papaya or bromelain in pineapple.
2. Improves Immune Function:
The high content of vitamin C along with several other antioxidant compounds in kiwi fruit has proven to be effective in beneficially modulating the immune system. It also contains vitamin E which can strengthen the immune system and lower cholesterol. Thus, consumption of kiwi fruit is a great way to ward off the effects of inflammation, stress and attack by bacteria and viruses.
3. Blood Pressure Management:
The high level of potassium in kiwis plays an important role in body cells by maintaining the balance of body fluids and electrolytes. It controls heart rate and blood pressure by countering the effects of sodium.
4. Cardiovascular Health:
Kiwifruit is as effective as aspirin for heart health minus the side effects like inflammation and bleeding in the intestinal tract. A study conducted at the University of Oslo in Norway observed that people who ate 2 to 3 kiwis in a day for 28 days reduced their blood clotting by 18% and triglycerides by 15%. Regular consumption of kiwi fruit prevents the build-up of plaques and deposits in the arterial walls, thus protecting against cardiovascular diseases.
5. Anti-cancer Properties:
The flavonoids and carotenoids in kiwifruit exhibit antioxidant effects. These phytochemicals protect your DNA from damage by free radicals and oxidative stress. By preventing DNA damage, they inhibit and prevent the growth of cancer cells.
6. Beneficial in Diabetes:
Kiwifruit has a low glycemic index which means that it does not raise blood sugar quickly. The glycemic load of 4 in kiwis is safe for diabetics.
7. Eye Health:
Kiwifruit helps in increasing the rate of vision. This is because it contains high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, the natural chemicals found in the human eye. Lutein prevents age related macular degeneration and the development of glaucoma and cataracts by filtering out the damaging blue light. Zeaxanthin also works hand in hand with lutein, thus contributing to eye health. A study has proved that eating 3 or more servings of kiwi fruit can decrease macular degeneration by 36% which is primarily responsible for vision loss in older adults.
8. Maintains Alkaline Balance:
Kiwifruit falls in the category of the most alkaline fruits which means that it has a rich supply of minerals that can replace the excess of acidic foods consumed by individuals. It helps to maintain the acid/alkaline balance in the body which results in several benefits such as deeper sleep, physical energy, fewer cold symptoms, and reduced arthritis and osteoporosis.
9. Treatment of Male Impotency:
Kiwifruit contains the amino acid arginine which is a well-known vasodilator and has been used to treat impotency in men. It is also a good source of zinc which helps to enhance testosterone in men.
10. Facilitates Weight Loss:
The low glycemic index and high fiber content of kiwifruit prevent a strong insulin rush unlike other fruits with high sugar content. This prevents the storage of fat, thus making this fruit beneficial for weight loss.
11. Beneficial in Pregnancy:
Kiwifruit is a rich source of folic acid which is vital for a healthy pregnancy and baby, and prevention of birth defects. The amount of folate contained in kiwifruit is equal to that of four peaches. Folate plays an important role in the development of blood cells for the baby in the womb.
Skin Benefits of Kiwi Fruit:
Kiwi is considered a “wonder fruit” due to its numerous properties that are beneficial both internally and externally. Besides its yummy taste, it is a great product for your skin. Kiwi fruit benefits for skin are as follows:
12. Anti-ageing Benefits:
The rich variety of antioxidants in kiwifruit can delay the effects of ageing throughout the body. These antioxidants can neutralize the free radicals that damage the cells and accelerate the process of degeneration resulting in changes in skin thickness, elasticity and firmness. Kiwi fruit oil and the oil extracted from its seeds are used in several anti-ageing products. The amazing combination of vitamin C, E, lycopene and other substances can effectively fight free radicals and prevent pre mature ageing of skin.
13. Maintains Skin Firmness:
Kiwis have a high content of water soluble vitamin C which is involved in collagen formation. Collagen is a connective protein that imparts firmness to your skin. Production of collagen declines with skin ageing, causing it to lose its elasticity. Kiwi extract is a collagen stimulating ingredient which is added to several skincare products to slow down the ageing process and minimize signs of ageing like wrinkles, fine lines and spots.
14. Softens Skin:
Vitamin C not only imparts firmness to your skin but also repairs it. Kiwis have more vitamin C than oranges. Vitamin C facilitates quick healing of cuts and abrasions as well as prevents rough and dry skin. Thus, regular consumption of kiwi fruit provides you with a softer skin.
15. UV Protection:
Kiwis are a good source of vitamin E which prevents skin degeneration. It has been shown to prevent UV induced skin cancer. Topical application of vitamin E can decrease facial lines and the depth of wrinkles. Thus, eating kiwis is an effective way of increasing your intake of vitamin E.
16. Great Skin Cleanser:
Kiwis are particularly good cleansers for your skin as they contain an enzyme called actinidin which helps to dissolve protein based dead skin cells and dirt on the skin. Hence, consumption of this fruit is a great way to make your skin clean and fresh. The high amount of fiber facilitates proper digestion which definitely contributes to healthy skin from inside out.
Hair Benefits of Kiwi Fruit:
Kiwi fruit is a power food, not only for your skin but for your hair as well. The nutrients in kiwi fruit comprising of vital vitamins, minerals and antioxidants play an important role in providing you with a healthy and lustrous mane. Kiwi fruit benefits for hair in the following ways.
17. Prevents Hair Loss:
As stated earlier, kiwis are a rich source of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant. This vitamin plays an important role in the creation of collagen which circumvents the hair from splitting and breaking. By protecting the body from free radical damage, this compound helps prevent stress and imbalances that often lead to hair loss.
18. Stimulates Hair Growth:
Vitamin C in kiwi fruit can stimulate hair growth by maintaining the integrity of the microcirculation that supplies blood to your hair follicles. Kiwis also contain vitamin E which improves hair growth through its positive effect on the immune system as it supports circulatory health and empowers oxygen uptake.
19. Treatment of Hair Problems:
Kiwi fruit extract and oil are rich in several vitamins and nutrients that help in maintaining hair health. Their topical application can treat hair problems like dandruff, and rough and dry hair.
Nutritional Value of Kiwi:
The numerous benefits of kiwi fruit can be attributed to its rich nutritional value incorporating health benefiting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as evident from the following table. Its nutritional profile is explained below.
|See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:|
Kiwi fruit or Chinese gooseberry (Actinidia chinensis), Fresh, Nutrient value per 100 g . (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.52 g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber||3 g||8%|
|Vitamin A||87 IU||3%|
|Vitamin C||92.7 mg||154%|
|Vitamin E||1.46 mg||10%|
|Vitamin K||40.3 µg||34%|
- Calories and Fat: Kiwi fruit is low in calories. One medium kiwi fruit weighing about 76 grams or 2.6 oz. provides just 46 calories and no fat at all based on a 2000 calorie diet.
- Carbohydrates: Majority of the calories in kiwi fruit is contributed by the carbohydrates. One medium kiwi fruit contains about 11 grams of carbohydrates which is equivalent to 4% of the recommended daily value based on a 2000 calorie diet.
- Dietary Fiber: Kiwifruit is a very good source of dietary fiber with one medium kiwifruit providing about 3 grams of fiber or 10 % of the daily recommended value.
- Vitamins: Kiwifruit is an excellent source of vitamin C. One medium kiwifruit provides 570 grams or 95% of the daily value of this vitamin. Thus, a cup of green or golden kiwifruit can fulfill your entire daily recommended vitamin C intake. It is also a good source of folate. A 1 cup serving of golden kiwifruit provides 63 micrograms or 16% of the recommended daily intake of folate while the same amount of green kiwifruit provides 45 micrograms or 11% RDI of folate. It also contains very good levels of vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin K.
- Minerals: Both green and golden kiwifruits are good sources of potassium and copper. A 100 grams serving of sliced green or golden kiwifruit provides about 312 milligrams or 7% of the daily recommended levels of this electrolyte. One cup serving of green kiwifruit contains 234 micrograms of copper while an equal amount of golden kiwifruit contains 273 micrograms of copper, contributing to 26% and 30% of the recommended daily intake of this mineral respectively.
- ORAC: Oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) measures the total antioxidant strength of a food item. The ORAC value of kiwifruit is 1210 µmol TE/100 grams.
Kiwi Fruit for Kids:
The nutritional benefits of kiwi fruit accrue to the children as well except those who are allergic to it. People who are allergic to pineapple are most likely to develop allergies after eating kiwifruit. Kiwifruit should not be given to kids below the age of 5 years as they are more susceptible to developing a serious allergic reaction to this fruit. Research conducted at the University of Southampton observed that children under the age of 5 who consumed kiwifruit suffered from severe symptoms such as collapse, itching and tingling in the mouth and swelling of the tongue.
As far as other children are concerned, they can consume this fruit only after ensuring that they are not allergic to any of its constituents. This delicious fruit can form a part of pizza along with ricotta cheese, honey and peanut butter; fruit kabobs as a star or made into smoothies with other