In the world of fruit, Kiwi are unparalleled. This superfruit, is not only delicious, sweet, but it’s in a world of its own when it comes to nutritional content. Compared with other fruit, kiwi are exceptionally high in vitamins C, E, K, folate potassium, fiber, and powerful plant compounds called carotenoids, creating a synergistic culmination of health benefits.
What Is Kiwi
Kiwis are a superfruit, and rightfully so. Native to China, yet cultivated in California and New Zealand, Kiwis are technically a large berry that grows on a woody vine. Despite the fuzzy exterior you can eat a kiwi and bite into it just as you would an apple [R]. Just two small kiwis have 230% of your daily vitamin C, 13% of your potassium, and 4g of fiber. Kiwis are loaded with antioxidants, which can help eradicate free radicals. Think of antioxidants like an invisible coat of armor, protecting your body from invading pathogens, and harmful environmental factors like UV rays, smoke inhalation, and the harmful effects of alcohol consumption. These cumulative effects create what’s known as oxidative stress, an imbalance of oxygen production. Antioxidants, help eradicate free radicals to re-instate this balance.
Kiwis are rich in phytonutrients such as lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamins, and minerals. According to the USDA Food Central Database, 1 cup of kiwi fruit, contains
Phosphorus 61.2 mg
Potassium 356 mg
Vitamin C 134 mg
Folate 46.8 mg
4 Kiwi Benefits You Need In Your Diet
Kiwis Boosts Your Immune System
Kiwis are stacked with vitamin C, even more so than Oranges. Your body cannot make vitamin C, and research has shown that vitamin C, may improve your immunity from invading pathogens. With 230% of your daily recommended vitamin C intake, and rich with antioxidants, kiwis provide a burst of immune boosting nutrients. One study reported that kiwi may support immune function and reduce the incidence and severity of cold or flu-like illness [R].
Kiwis Help Protect Your Eyes
Kiwis contain two powerful carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to improve eye health. Carotenoids are a class of phytonutrients, which are found in a wide variety of plants. Their function is to help plants absorb light energy for use in photosynthesis. Carotenoids are mainly yellow, orange, or red fat-soluble pigments, including carotene, which give color to fruit and vegetables like cherries and beets. There are more than 600 different carotenoids, which must be consumed through your diet from foods like kale, yams, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, mangoes, and oranges. Carotenoids are classified into two main groups: xanthophylls and carotenes.
Xanthophylls can protect your eyes from sun exposure and long-term blue light
One of the leading causes of blindness is macular degeneration, degeneration of the retina. Long-term blue-light exposure can negatively affect the sensitive parts of the eye. Studies show that the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are found in the retina can help absorb blue light.
Researchers at Harvard found that incorporating at least six milligrams of lutein in your diet a day can decrease your risk of developing macular degeneration by 43%. Increasing the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin rich foods in your diet can also help to slow or halt current eye damage and prevent your current condition from progressing. Lutein is absorbed from dietary sources, and transported in large quantities, to the macula and lens of the eye. Lutein may lower the risk of developing AMD, cataracts, and prevent advancement of mild to moderate eye disease
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Kiwis Improve Digestion
Like papaya, kiwi contains a proteolytic digestive enzyme called actinidin that can help break down protein [R]. Research has indicated that actinidin greatly enhances the digestion of protein. Fiber is also paramount in optimal digestive health. Fiber acts like a broom that sweeps through your system, so you can easily pass bowel movements on a consistent and smooth basis. Soluble fiber, found in kiwi partially ferments in your gut. As it dissolves, it forms a gel-like material that passes through the GI tract slowing digestion and allowing better nutrient absorption. One of the benefits of soluble fiber is that it lowers cholesterol and maintains stable glucose levels.
Kiwis May Promote Heart Health
Several studies have shown that fiber is a contributing source to better heart health. Fiber can improve blood pressure and maintain healthy cholesterol, by removing plaque around artery walls. In a Harvard study, that included over 40,000 male health professionals, researchers found that high total dietary intake was correlated with a 40% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease [R].
A study published in the journal Blood Pressure investigated the effects of kiwi on 118 subjects with normal blood pressure or stage 1 hypertension. Subjects were randomized into two groups, who either ate three kiwis, or one apple per day for 8 weeks. The study concluded that blood pressure was significantly lower in the kiwi group as opposed to those that ate apples [R].
Kiwi Benefits: Takeaway
Besides the fact that kiwis are exceptionally delicious, kiwi can greatly benefit your overall health and wellness. High in antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients, adding a couple kiwi a day to your weekly meal plan, a green smoothie, or your Greek yogurt can take your health and wellness to the next level.
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Stonehouse W, Gammon CS, Beck KL, Conlon CA, von Hurst PR, Kruger R. Kiwifruit: our daily prescription for health. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2013 Jun;91(6):442-7. doi: 10.1139/cjpp-2012-0303. Epub 2013 May 15. PMID: 23746068.
Svendsen M, Tonstad S, Heggen E, Pedersen TR, Seljeflot I, Bøhn SK, Bastani NE, Blomhoff R, Holme IM, Klemsdal TO. The effect of kiwifruit consumption on blood pressure in subjects with moderately elevated blood pressure: a randomized, controlled study. Blood Press. 2015 Feb;24(1):48-54. doi: 10.3109/08037051.2014.976979. Epub 2014 Dec 8. PMID: 25483553.
Kaur L, Rutherfurd SM, Moughan PJ, Drummond L, Boland MJ. Actinidin enhances gastric protein digestion as assessed using an in vitro gastric digestion model. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 28;58(8):5068-73. doi: 10.1021/jf903332a. PMID: 20232890.