10 Amazing Health Benefits of Kiwi; Health benefits of kiwi fruit include improved digestive and cardiovascular health and it aids in the treatment of cancer, insomnia, macular degeneration and diabetes.
Flavonoid-rich kiwi is beneficial during pregnancy, contributes to keeping the skin healthy and promotes the absorption of iron in the body. Anti-microbial properties of kiwi guards against a range of pathogens and strengthens the immune defense of the body.
Kiwi fruit is a delicious berry of a woody, twining vine and is popularly known with its shortened version as ‘kiwi’. It is native to China and is revered as the country’s national fruit. Originally known as ‘Yang Tao’, kiwi is 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. Kiwi fruit has a unique and invigorating flavor with a soft and just about creamy texture. The Actinidia genus which includes kiwi comprises about 60 species. Globally, the most commonly consumed varieties are the ‘fuzzy’ and ‘golden’.
Kiwi was brought from China to New Zealand during the early 20th century by the missionaries. With the growing appreciation of this exotic fruit, people of New Zealand renamed it as Chinese Gooseberries. Later, it was imported to United States where it proved quite popular. After multiple rechristening, the fruit was finally named as ‘kiwi’ in the honor of the national bird of New Zealand for its small, fuzzy, brown appearance resembles the fur coat of the flightless brown kiwi bird. Presently, Italy, New Zealand, France, Japan, Chile and the United States are the major contributors to the commercial production of the kiwifruit.
Nutritional breakdown of kiwifruit
Per medium fruit, the kiwifruit contains:
- Calories: 42
- Protein: 0.8 grams
- Total fat: 0.4 grams
- Fiber: 2.1 grams
- Vitamin C: 64 milligrams
- Vitamin A: 3 micrograms
- Iron: 0.2 milligrams
- Potassium: 252 milligrams
- Folate: 17 micrograms.
The fuzzy little kiwi also packs in the vital nutrients vitamin E, copper, vitamin K, choline, magnesium and phosphorus.
The kiwifruit is higher in vitamin C per ounce than most other fruits.
10 Amazing Health Benefits of Kiwi
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.
- Incredible Source of Antioxidant-Powered Vitamin C and E
One reason kiwifruit is undeniably a superfood is that it’s a high-antioxidant food that fights free radical damage.
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. 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.
- 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.
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. 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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. Along with lutein, kiwifruit has a great supply of another carotenoid, vitamin A, which is also largely beneficial to optimum eye health.
10 Amazing Health Benefits of Kiwi
- Aids in Digestion
Kiwi has shown promise as a treatment for 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 to produce anti-inflammatory results, as well as overall improvements in bowel function.
- 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 of heart attacks.
Studies have shown that people who regularly consume kiwifruit have 15 percent lowered triglyceride levels compared to those who do not. Kiwifruit is also a great source of omega-3s, magnesium, vitamin E and copper, all of which help keep the cardiovascular system working properly.
- 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.
- 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. There is also evidence to suggest serotonin may also help boost memory and mood and can even help with depression.
- 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. Thanks to polysaccharide content and the abundance of antioxidants found in kiwi nutrition, studies in mice have shown antitumor and reduction of cancer cells.
These reasons are why kiwi are among some of the best cancer-fighting foods available in nature.
- 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.
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 a large number of antioxidants in the fruit.
Kiwi is a nutritious fruit, however, it can cause allergic reactions to susceptible individuals. These allergic reactions may vary from mild, localized oral allergy to fatal conditions such as anaphylaxis which may lead to death depending upon the sensitivity. Several studies have validated the presence of significant allergens in the kiwifruit which can cause severe reactions predominantly in the young children.
Sources and References:
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10722767, Consumption of fresh fruit rich in vitamin C and wheezing symptoms in children. SIDRIA Collaborative Group, Italy (Italian Studies on Respiratory Disorders in Children and the Environment), Sept. 2012
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21212530, Anti-oxidant effects of kiwi fruit in vitro and in vivo, Sept. 2012
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21147704, Kiwifruit improves bowel function in patients with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, Sept. 2012