Just as it is beautiful in appearance with the brilliant green color and tiny black seeds arranged so neatly, the kiwi fruit (Actinidia chinensis) is very delicious to taste as well. Also known as the Chinese gooseberry, Yang Tao or Macaque peach, kiwi has its origins in China. This fruit has high nutritional value because of which it has been used by the Chinese since ancient times to make tonics. The tonics proved to be very useful for improving the health of children and women after delivery. It got its name as kiwi berry or kiwifruit very recently.
Kiwi is a small brownish fruit which is covered with fuzzy skin. When you cut open the fruit, it reveals a beautiful and bright green colored flesh which is of a creamy consistency. Kiwi fruit has a unique sweet taste almost similar to that of melons, strawberries, and bananas. It is a powerhouse of nutrients that makes it one of the best and nutritious fruits in the world.
There are about 60 species of kiwi. Most commonly consumed kiwifruits are ‘fuzzy kiwi’ and ‘golden kiwi’. Other known varieties are hardy kiwi or baby kiwi. Today it is widely cultivated in Europe, US, New Zealand and Chile.
Nutritional value of Kiwi
Kiwi is a highly nutritional fruit that is low in cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber and vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K. Around 100 grams of Kiwi or one large fruit is sufficient to meet daily requirement of Vitamin C and half the daily requirement for Vitamin K.
It also contains high levels of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus that are essential for maintaining a healthy body. Kiwi is also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and flavonoid anti-oxidants like beta-carotene, xanthin and lutein. One cup serving of kiwi can provide you with 108 calories, 2 grams of protein, 26 grams of carbohydrates, just 1 gram of fat.
Health benefits of Kiwi
Even though kiwi is a tiny fruit, you will be surprised to know that it is packed with nutrients that help in improving the overall health of your body.
Kiwi and antioxidant properties
Kiwi offers various nutrients which have exhibited strong antioxidant properties. These antioxidant nutrients in Kiwi include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, carotenoids and other polyphenols. Consuming Kiwi protects you from oxidative stress and free radicals which damasge your body DNA and cause harm to internal organs. Ripening is believed to increase the antioxidant activity of kiwi. Consuming Kiwi may help reduce risk of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cancer.
Kiwi and cholesterol
A recent study published in 2009 in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition showed that although the consumption of kiwi did not cause any significant changes in the LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, it did however help in increasing the levels of good cholesterol or HDL and in lowering the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio and the total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio.
Kiwi may lower blood pressure
Research suggests that eating 3 kiwis per day may help in reducing the blood pressure. Kiwi is rich in lutein, a powerful antioxidant that helps in eliminating the free radicals which are often associated with increasing your blood pressure.
Kiwi and diabetes
Studies reveal that kiwi can benefit people suffering from diabetes. If you are a type 2 diabetic patient, it is important to watch what you eat because the types of food that you eat can affect your blood sugar levels. Kiwi contains fructose which is a simple sugar that can easily be digested by your body. Fructose is a slow releasing sugar that does not cause significant spikes on your blood sugar levels. Kiwi has high fiber content and a low glycemic index, which means that the consumption of this fruit does not have a negative impact on your blood sugar levels. It also contains inositol, a simple carbohydrate that helps to regulate the levels of insulin.
Kiwi aids in digestion
Kiwi is rich in fiber and other nutrients that have a positive effect on your digestive system. It is rich in the enzyme actinidin which helps in the faster and efficient breaking down of protein. This makes kiwi fruit an ideal choice for eliminating digestive problems like bloating. According to scientists, the consumption of kiwi after a heavy meal can aid in the digestion process. It also reduces the feeling of being overfull after a meal. Being rich in dietary fiber, kiwi helps in promoting regular bowel movements and in preventing constipation.
Kiwi boosts your immune system
It has been found that the consumption of kiwi fruit can enhance your immune system. This fruit is rich in vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant that helps in removing the dangerous free radicals and in preventing oxidative stress. The vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in Kiwi helps in strengthen your immune system and in protecting your body against many diseases.
Kiwi and cancer
The type of foods that you eat plays a key role in both causing and preventing cancer. While some foods are associated with cancer, there are others that actually help in fighting cancer. Kiwi fruits is one among such foods that help your body fight against cancer. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that has been found to have anti-cancer properties. It protects the cells from oxidative stress by eliminating the free radicals in your body. Kiwi has a high level of vitamin C content, even higher than the amount contained in an orange. This amazing fruit also contains other nutrients like vitamin E, carotenoids, folate, and fiber, all of which have cancer fighting abilities.
Kiwi improves cardiovascular health
Scientists have found that eating two or three kiwi fruits a day can help in improving the health of your heart. According to a research conducted by the University of Oslo in Norway, eating two to three kiwifruit a day can help in thinning blood, lowering the amount of fat and in reducing blood clotting. All these can prevent the blockage of blood vessels and protect you from heart attacks and heart diseases. Consumption of kiwifruit can deliver similar effects as that provided by a daily dosage of aspirin to improve your heart health.
Kiwi aids in weight loss
Including kiwi in your regular diet can help you lose weight. This fruit is low in calories and has high fiber content that fills you up and controls your appetite. Being a fruit rich in nutrients and low in calories, kiwi is an ideal replacement for high calorie foods when you are trying to lose weight.
Kiwi and respiratory health
Kiwi fruit is found to be very beneficial in improving your respiratory health. The results of a study performed in Italy revealed that children who ate kiwi and other citrus fruits regularly had lower chances of developing respiratory problems including cold, coughs, and wheezing than those children who did not consume these fruits on a daily basis. According to a latest study, the symptoms of asthma were considerably reduced in kids who consume fruits like kiwi that are rich in vitamin C.
Benefits of Kiwi for eyes
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the primary cause of blindness in many older people. AMD is an irreversible condition that has no cure and hence it is important to take steps to prevent the development of this condition. Research shows that the intake of carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin can provide protection against macular degeneration. Moreover, these carotenoids have antioxidant properties that help in fighting against the effects of toxic free radicals and in reducing the oxidative stress on the cells and tissues of your eyes. Kiwi fruit is high in these two phytonutrients, which makes it beneficial for your eye health.
Kiwi for male impotence
Kiwi fruit contains an amino acid called Arginine, which is a vasodilator used in treating erectile dysfunction or impotence in men. Eating two kiwi daily is believed to reduce anxiety and sexual problems in men. Enjoy kiwi for pleasurable sex.
Kiwi can help reduce stress
It has been found that vitamin C is a powerful stress buster. Studies show that vitamin C was able to reduce the production of cortisol, which is a hormone that is secreted by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Frequent release of stress hormones can affect your health in a bad way. Since kiwi is a fruit that is rich in vitamin C, its regular consumption is very beneficial in reducing stress and the effects of stress on your body.
Kiwi prevents fatigue and depression
Studies reveal that eating 2 kiwi fruits a day can enhance your mood and fight off depression. These effects are attributed to the high levels of vitamin C present in kiwi. Vitamin C is linked to improving your mood and increasing your energy. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science, Vitamin C helps in activating a few enzymes in your body that can improve your metabolic energy and the various neurochemicals in your brain, as a result of which your fatigue is reduced and you feel energetic, both mentally and physically.
Kiwi for good sleep
Kiwifruit contains tryptophan which helps in serotonin synthesis which promotes sleep. Eating Kiwi fruit in evening results in improvement in sleep quality. Other flavonoids present in kiwi peel are considered to act as sleep inducing substances.
Kiwi improves iron absorption
Combined with iron rich food, it provides body with rich iron source. Kiwi contains nutrients which help in absorption of iron in body.
Kiwi benefits for Pregnant women
Folica acid is required during early months of pregnancy for development of fetus. Kiwi offers natural folate to body which helps in growth of brain in unborn babies. It also supplies key vitamins – Vitamin E and Vitamin K which are good for overall development of fetus and pregnant mother.
Kiwi for skin health
Kiwi is a wonderful fruit that can enhance the health of your skin owing to the presence of vitamin C and other nutrients in it. Vitamin C is beneficial for keeping your skin healthy and glowing. It is not only essential for the growth and repair of your tissues but is also important in the formation of collagen formation and in speeding up the process of wound healing. Being a strong antioxidant, vitamin C helps in protecting your skin from the effects of free radicals and prevents skin damage. Kiwi helps in reducing oxidative action on skin including dust, dirt, pollution. It helps reducing aging of skin and prevent wrinkles. By increasing immunity within, consumption of kiwi is beneficial for your skin.
Consider this homemade Kiwi face mask for acne – Mix two tablespoon of kiwi juice with 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil. Mix well. Apply this to washed face. Leave this for half and hour before you clean your face with cotton ball. Wash your face with lukewarm water then. Do this 2-3 times in a week for acne free skin.
Kiwi for hair growth
Kiwi juice is rich in Vitamin E and other minerals which are good for health of your haris. Consumption of kiwi juice helps nourish your hair with growth nutrients. It increase immunity and reduces hair fall problem. Diluted Kiwi juice can be used to clean your hair. Kiwi Seed Oil is also vital source of omega 3 fatty acids including Alpha Linolenic Acid and other minerals which are helpful for hair. It is used in several available commercial hair care products.
Precautions – possible side effects of Kiwi
Kiwi peel contains certain latex which may cause allergy to some people. Kiwi also contains salts of oxalic acids which if accumulated in body can cause of development of calcium oxalates and stones in kidney or gall bladder.
Best way to enjoy Kiwi health benefits
This delicious fruit can be eaten raw. Some other ways with which you can enjoy this fruit:
- Raw kiwi cuts can be added to green salads
- Taste, texture and color blend well with strawberries. Toss some of them to yoghurt and enjoy.
- Make pineapple, kiwi and orange sauce. Use it to marinate your chicken or fish.
- Pavloa is original New Zealand dessert which includes kiwi, eggs, cornflour and thickened cream.
- Candied Kiwi can stay in your refrigerator for longer period and help you enjoy this fruit.
- Learn some muffin, cheesecake or pie recipes with Kiwi.
- If you hit gym regularly, drinking kiwi juice helps you get all electrolytes you may have lost.
- Enjoy sip of Kiwi juice as a great appetizer
- Can You Eat the Skin of a Kiwi Fruit? – Yes, just like an apple you can eat the whole kiwi fruit with the peel. The commonly available kiwi is the fuzzy kiwi. While the green fleshy part is generally eating, the hairy or messy skin offers various nutrients including vitamin C, dietary fibers and phytonutrietns. One can just wash the skin and scrub dry with a tissue and eat the kiwi fruit whole and enjoy much more health benefits. Infact it is much easier consuming kiwi fruit whole.
Owing to its small size and weird appearance, kiwi fruit is often ignored and its benefits overlooked. It is a delicious fruit bursting with nutrients, which is capable of doing wonders to your overall health and well being. All parts of kiwi fruit are edible, even the skin. It can be eaten as it is or by adding to salads or by making smoothies and chutneys. Eating kiwi fruit regularly is a great way to improve both your physical and mental health.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Hiperpinguino, Wikimedia - Hazel Fowler