What is Kiwi? Powerhouse of Antioxidants - Proven Health Benefits Of Kiwifruit
Health benefits of kiwi include skin care, improved cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and prevention of strokes. It also aids in the treatment of cancer, insomnia, macular degeneration, and diabetes. Due to the flavonoid-rich compounds found in kiwi, it also helps during pregnancy and promotes the absorption of iron in the body. Besides, the anti-microbial properties of kiwi guard against a range of pathogens and strengthen the immune system.
Kiwifruits lower your BP, balance cholesterol levels, and reduce blood clotting to keep your heart healthy. Their lutein and vit. A improve eye health, while vits C and E avert DNA damage. Actinidin in kiwis help digest complex proteins, while their fiber eases constipation. Packing in 178% of the vit. C you need daily, they boost immunity and prevent cold, flu, and asthma attacks. Kiwis can also strengthen bones, check anemia, and promote sleep.
What is Kiwi?
Kiwifruit, also known as Chinese gooseberry, is a delicious berry of a woody, twining vine and is popularly known by its shortened name ‘kiwi’. It belongs to the Actinidia genus which includes about 60 species. Globally, the most commonly consumed varieties are the ‘fuzzy’ and ‘golden’.
Kiwifruit is native to China, where it is also the national fruit. Originally known as ‘Yang Tao’, itis 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 invigorating 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.
Kiwis are small fruits that pack a lot of flavor and plenty of health benefits. Their green flesh is sweet and tangy. It’s also full of nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, and potassium. They also have a lot of antioxidants and are a good source of fiber. Their small black seeds are edible, as is the fuzzy brown peel, though many prefer to peel the kiwi before eating it.
Placed under the category of exotic fruits, kiwi often features as a topping in pavlovas or in fruit bowls, salads and smoothies. Very rarely it is cooked; in desserts especially, it is used fresh as an enzyme present in it tends to break down milk proteins rather quickly, interfering with the final texture of the dish. It also acts as a tenderizing agent for meats, and is commonly used in the preparation of roasts and curries. However, to make the most of its nutritional value, it is said that the best way to have it is on its own, as a raw fruit.
Kiwi is an excellent source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Other vitamins including vitamin A, folate, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), and vitamin K (phylloquinone) are also present in good amounts. The mineral wealth of kiwi includes a tremendous quantity of potassium along with other minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. All these vital nutrients in the fruit come with an added bonus of dietary fiber. A 100 gram serving of kiwifruit has around 61 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates. Thus, a small kiwi fruit stores a treasure of nutritional surprises.
|Nutrient||Kiwi green | %DV||Kiwi gold | %DV|
|Fiber||3 g | 12%||1.4 g | 6%|
|Calcium||34 mg | 3.4%||17 mg | 1.7%|
|Iron||0.31 mg | 1.7%||0.21 mg | 1.1%|
|Magnesium||17 mg | 4.25%||12 mg | 3%|
|Phosphorus||34 mg | 3.4%||25 mg | 2.5%|
|Potassium||312 mg | 8.9%||315 mg | 9%|
|Vitamin A||87 IU | 1.74%||23 IU | 0.46%|
|Folate (B9)||25 mcg | 6.25%||31 mcg | 7.7%|
|Vitamin C||92.7 mg | 154.5%||161 mg | 178%|
|Vitamin E||1.46 mg | 7.3%||1.4 mg | 7.3%|
|Vitamin K||40.3 mcg | 50%||6.1 mcg | 7.6%|
|Lutein+Xeazanthin||122 mcg 24||mcg|
Health Benefits of Kiwi
The growing global popularity of the kiwifruit attributes to an amazing blend of its unique appearance, flavor, and nutritional assets.  Benefits of the fruit for medical conditions have been discussed as under:
- Treats Asthma
Due to the great antioxidant and vitamin C content in kiwi fruit, it is known to treat asthma. It improves lung function and also prevents wheezing among children.
- Keeps Your Heart Healthy
You may know that excessive blood clotting is a potential risk for your heart. Blood clots can clog up your arteries and lead to strokes. Kiwifruits are an excellent blood thinner. In a 28-day study on healthy volunteers, having 2 to 3 kiwis daily could reduce the risk of blood clotting by 18%. At the same time, it could reduce the triglyceride levels by 15% without affecting the cholesterol profile.4 Isn’t a kiwi a day a better option than aspirins to prevent blood clotting?
Many studies show that the deficiency of vitamin C is linked with risk of cardiovascular diseases. Since kiwis are high in vitamin C, offering over 3 times the required amount in a day, including just 1 in your daily diet can keep your heart healthy.5
Moreover, the high fiber content of kiwi can offer a lot of benefits to your heart like lowered cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.
- High Source of Vitamin C
If you thought that lemons and oranges were the highest sources of Vitamin C, then think again! According to the nutritional break-up of kiwi fruit, per 100 grams contain 154 percentage of Vitamin C, which is almost twice that of lemons and oranges. Vitamin C acts as powerful antioxidant, eliminating free radicals that could cause inflammation or cancer. It also helps in boosting the immunity of the body against harmful pathogens.
- Prevents DNA Damage
Certain foods you eat, the air you breathe, and the products you use can all release toxins in your body and generate reactive molecules called free radicals. Sometimes, these free radicals can go on a rampage, damaging your cell walls, and even your DNA, and overwhelming your natural immune system. Your body then comes under oxidative stress, leading to several diseases, even cancer.
The only way to prevent this is to have foods containing antioxidants that can hunt down the free radicals and deactivate them. Kiwifruits offer such antioxidants in the form of vitamin C, vitamin E, and other plant nutrients. A study on human lymph cells found that kiwifruit juice made the DNA more resistant to oxidative damage.
- 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. 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.
- Balances Cholesterol
Scientists suggest that free radicals may also have a role to play in increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. They oxidize the LDL (bad) cholesterol and lead to diseases like atherosclerosis.7 The ideal remedy for such scenarios is something that can deactivate the free radicals as well as balance the cholesterol levels by increasing the good HDL cholesterol levels. Kiwifruits can do just that.
Researchers in Taiwan asked 43 patients with high cholesterol to eat 2 kiwifruits every day for 8 weeks. After 8 weeks, it was seen that the levels of HDL were elevated and the ratio of HDL to LDL was more balanced. Moreover, they also saw a reduction in the quantity of the by-products of cell damage caused by free radicals.8
This led the researchers to suggest that having kiwifruit daily can help high-cholesterol patients cut down the risk of heart disease. Do you know what else reduces high cholesterol? Ashwagandha.
- Sleep Inducer
Having trouble sleeping? According to a research done by Taipei Medical University, “Numerous studies have revealed that kiwi fruit contains many medicinally useful compounds, among which antioxidants and serotonin may be beneficial in the treatment of sleep disorders.” It is said that having two kiwi fruits one hour before bedtime can help immensely in inducing sleep.
- Reduces risk of other health conditions
Oxidative stress can result in damage to our DNA. This can lead to health problems. Partially thanks to its antioxidants, there is some evidence from an older study that regular consumption of kiwi or kiwi extract reduces the likelihood of oxidative stress.
Since oxidative DNA damage is strongly linked to colon cancer, regular kiwi consumption could lower your risk of colon cancer, too.
- Reduces Blood Clotting
According to the study, 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.
Lowers High Blood Pressure
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. But 3 kiwis a day can keep high blood pressure away, say scientists. They gave people with slightly elevated blood pressure (stage 1 hypertension) 3 kiwis or 1 apple a day for 8 weeks. There was greater reduction in the systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the kiwi group than in the apple group.
The researchers weren’t entirely sure about how exactly kiwis could do this. But one reason could be that kiwis have over 300 times more potassium than sodium. The right sodium-potassium ratio is also a must for optimum blood pressure. Another reason could be the kiwi antioxidants since oxidative damage is also responsible for hypertension.
Yet another reason, that was unfortunately not measured in the study, is that kiwifruits can inhibit the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). ACE controls the complex renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) that controls fluctuations in blood pressure. The fruits act as standard ACE inhibitors relax blood vessels by decreasing the activity of RAAS.
Good Source of Dietary Fiber
This exotic fruit is loaded with dietary fiber, which helps in the prevention of numerous diseases. According to a study done by the University of Leeds, “Increasing consumption of fibre-rich foods can lower risks of both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD).” According to researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, high fiber foods keep one full for longer and control metabolic markers like blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. It also facilities weight loss and is often recommended to diabetics.
Protects against vision loss
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss, and kiwis might help protect your eyes from it. One study found that by eating three servings of fruit a day, macular degeneration was decreased by 36 percent. Kiwis’ high levels of zeaxanthin and lutein are thought to contribute to this effect.
Induces Better Sleep
According to a study, kiwi is a good source of serotonin, which helps in improving sleep quality. It may also help in improving the sleep onset and in reducing waking time after the onset, hence providing relief from any sleep disturbances. Studies suggest that irregular sleep patterns are a major reason behind the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease.
This fruit contains flavonoids such as naringenin, quercetin, rutin, catechin, and epicatechin, which modulate the sleep-inducing receptors and are considered an effectual plant-based sedative agent. Attributing to this, the peel of kiwi is a potent ingredient for the development of natural sleeping aids.
Beneficial in Pregnancy
Kiwi is a perfect fruit for a pregnant woman attributing to the abundance of natural folate. Folate helps to 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 beneficially to the overall health and development of the fetus and the expectant mother.
Kiwi is alkaline in nature, which means it helps in countering the effects of acidic foods that we quite often consume. A healthy body is one which has a good pH balance, which helps in keeping you active, full of energy, and with a youthful skin. The vitamins prevent in kiwi (C and E) are said to be great for the skin as they act as antioxidant, preventing skin degradation. Take a few slices and apply them on your skin for good results.
In addition to the above mentioned qualities, kiwi fruits contain omega 3 fatty acids, carotenoids, polyphenols, and promotes heart health.
Kiwifruit has been traditionally trusted in the 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. Extracts of the kiwifruit inhibit the proliferation of cancerous cells and protect 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.
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.
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.
Prevents Asthma And Upper Respiratory Tract Infection
A large-scale survey found that having kiwifruit (or any other fresh citrus fruit) at least once a week is related with fewer incidences of wheezing and fewer relapses.21
This positive effect can be attributed to the very high vitamin C content in kiwifruit. Many scientists relate a low intake of vitamin C during winter with wheezing and bronchitis symptoms, especially in children who have a history of asthma, bronchitis, or breathing problems. This is because vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can counter free radicals, tobacco smoke, or air pollutants, all of which trigger asthma attacks.Another study found that having 4 gold kiwifruits a day for 4 weeks reduced the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections in people above 65 years
Can Help With Anemia
It is a known fact that the deficiency of iron leads to anemia, and vitamin C enhances iron absorption. So to test whether having citrus fruits with an iron-fortified breakfast can be a remedy for anemia, researchers asked women with low iron stores to have 2 gold kiwis or 1 banana every day at breakfast for 16 weeks. The kiwi group saw a significant improvement in the iron levels, thanks to the higher vitamin C and lutein content in the kiwis.
Can Kiwifruits Cure Dengue?
There are anecdotes afloat about how kiwifruits help treat dengue by raising the platelet count hugely. Kiwi is obviously a tastier option than the bitter papaya leaf juice for healing dengue, but since this has not yet been clinically proven, it may be better to stick with the papaya leaf juice cure.
Do Kiwifruits Have Side Effects?
Unfortunately, yes. The protein actinidin that helps in digestion can also produce allergic reaction in kids and in people with latex allergy. This could manifest as rashes on the skin, tingling in the mouth, swollen lips, abdominal cramping, and breathing difficulties in severe cases. Since they delay blood clotting, you should avoid having kiwis before a surgery and if you are on blood-thinning medicines.
- Allergic Reactions: The allergic reactions may vary from mild, localized 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 disorder