Known in ancient China as Yang Tao, the kiwifruit earned its place in Chinese culture not just for its flavor, but also its medicinal properties, which science has substantiated in areas such as digestive health and metabolic health.
The commercially grown varieties of kiwifruit can be traced to a China and a Church of Scotland mission station in Yichang in 1878. They were referred to as “Chinese gooseberry” before kiwifruit became the moniker.[3,4]
Kiwifruit is named in honor of New Zealand’s native bird—the kiwi—by an enterprising food distributor, and its subsequent cultivation grew around the globe. Today, France, Italy, Greece and the United States are some of the biggest producers of kiwifruit. China remains at the very top of the list. Kiwifruit is not only a scrumptious food but is used to tenderize meats due to the compound actinidin.
Kiwifruit is both unique and surprising. While it’s small and has a light brown outer surface, the inside of the fruit is lime green, studded with tiny black seeds, and packed with a flavor similar to a strawberry or pineapple. Peeled, sliced, and chilled, kiwifruit can be an excellent addition to any fruit salad combination or served by itself.
Health Benefits of Kiwifruit
Kiwifruit provides 92.7 milligrams of vitamin C, a nutrient that helps boost the immune system to stave off colds and scurvy, in every 100-gram serving. It has 40.3 micrograms of vitamin K—best known for its role in bone health and cardiovascular function.
Kiwifruits contain vitamin A (great for the skin, respiratory health, and vision), vitamin E (for lowering the risk of platelet aggregation), and potassium to help balance the body’s electrolytes and manage blood pressure levels.[15,16]
Kiwifruit is one of the few foods that contain vitamin B6, which supports the immune system. B6 is particularly important for pregnant mothers to support them throughout their gestation. The folate in kiwifruit, on the other hand, is more helpful for the fetus. It may protect against neural tube defects and congenital heart disease.
You’ll find 3 grams of dietary fiber for every 100-gram serving of kiwifruit. Dietary fiber has been shown to help keep the digestive system running well, while reducing the risk of diseases such as diabetes, stroke, and hypertension. Finally, the antioxidant power in kiwifruits may help neutralize free radicals that can damage cells.
Despite these benefits, be sure to consume kiwifruit in moderation, as it contains fructose, which can be harmful to your health in excessive amounts. That said, the water, fiber, and phytonutrients in fruit make a fructose binge from kiwifruit an entirely different thing from getting the same amount of fructose from a can of soda.
Studies on Kiwifruit
Research has shown kiwifruit to have a notable protective effect against asthma and other respiratory difficulties, such as wheezing. One report indicated that young children eating 6 to 7 servings of kiwifruit and other vitamin C-rich foods per week had a 29.3 percent lower incidence of wheezing. Even those eating these foods only once or twice a week had fewer symptoms, in comparative studies.
Both the green and gold varieties of kiwifruit are rich in polyphenols and were studied to compare their antioxidant strengths. Researchers found that not only were the kiwifruit antioxidants more potent than those in oranges and grapefruit, the gold kiwifruit variety was found to have greater antioxidant strength. Researchers concluded that kiwifruit consumption may be useful in reducing the development of diseases caused by oxidative stress.
Another small study explored the effects of kiwifruit on patients with irritable bowel syndrome. The study involved 54 patients and 16 healthy individuals eating either kiwifruit consumption or placebos in a six-week study. Researchers found the colon transit time significantly decreased in the group consuming kiwifruit, and concluded that eating kiwifruit improved bowel function in adults diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.
Kiwifruit Fun Facts
Before the kiwifruit became its given name, other names, such as “melonette,” were considered. If the kiwifruits you purchase are underripe, placing them in a brown paper bag for 4 to 6 days will help them ripen. Keeping them in a paper bag with an apple or a banana will speed up the ripening process even more.
Kiwifruits can legitimately be called a super fruit. This fuzzy brown powerhouse with bright green flesh contains vitamins A, K, E, and B, potassium, folate, and fiber. The health benefits kiwifruits provide translate into protection against heart disease and stroke, potential relief from asthma and irritable bowel syndrome, and support for pregnant mothers and their fetuses.
Kiwifruit is a sweet little fruit that expands the diversity of your plate by its color, flavor, and health advantages.
Dr. Joseph Mercola is the founder of Mercola.com. An osteopathic physician, best-selling author, and recipient of multiple awards in the field of natural health, his primary vision is to change the modern health paradigm by providing people with a valuable resource to help them take control of their health. This article was originally published on Mercola.com
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