Kiwi fruit (also known as Chinese gooseberry because of its flavour and colour) is native to China since 700 years. Besides China, kiwi is widely cultivated in Brazil, New Zealand, Italy and Chile. It is a climbing shrub, which reaches approximately 9 meters. The scientific name for kiwi is Actinidia Deliciosa. Kiwi fruit usually grows under moderate to high rainfall conditions. 150 cm of rainfall is at least required for the sufficient growth of kiwi fruit. During summer, the fruits are injured by sunburn if the temperature goes beyond 35 degrees Celsius.
Kiwi fruit has recently gained a lot of attention for its nutritive and medicinal value. Though kiwi’s outer brown appearance is not so attractive, when cut into two halves the bright green flesh looks really refreshing and irresistible. This fruit is available in the market in different forms:
- Fresh whole kiwi
- Kiwi juice or puree
- Dry kiwi
- Canned kiwi
- Frozen kiwi
Facts about Kiwi Fruit
- Kiwifruit is said to be extremely nutritious, an excellent source of vitamin C and a very good source of potassium and folic acid.
- Kiwi provides approximately 10 percent of the recommended daily requirement of dietary fiber.
- Kiwifruit also contains vitamin E and an array of polyphenols and Carotenoids, which are required for good health.
- There are two varieties of kiwi: Gold Kiwifruit & Green Kiwifruit.
- Gold kiwifruit contains more antioxidants and is healthier than green kiwifruit.
- Kiwi is a low glycemic index fruit, thus it is very beneficial for individuals with diabetes mellitus.
Nutritive Value of Kiwi Fruit
|Total fat||0.52 gram|
|Dietary fiber||3 grams|
|Folic acid (B9)||25 micrograms|
|Niacin (B3)||0.34 milligrams|
|Riboflavin (B2)||0.02 milligrams|
|Thiamine (B1)||0.02 milligrams|
|Vitamin A||87 IU|
|Vitamin C||92.7 milligrams|
|Vitamin E||1.46 milligrams|
|Vitamin K||40.3 micrograms|
* These nutritive values are per 100 grams of kiwifruit.
Health Benefits of Kiwi Fruit
Effect on Diabetic Foot Ulcer
The incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus has increased greatly in the past 10-15 years. It is very important to keep plasma glucose levels under control to prevent the onset of diabetic complications. Wound healing is delayed in individuals with diabetes mellitus. Diabetic foot ulcer and infection is a common problem in diabetics.
Research has shown great effects of kiwi on healing of diabetic foot ulcers. Furthermore, it was observed that natural compounds present in kiwi improved the wound healing process and delayed the onset of wound infection. In addition to this, the glycemic index of kiwi is low and this further makes it beneficial for diabetics. Kiwi is completely safe for individuals with diabetes mellitus and is easily available. (1)
Cholesterol Lowering Effect
Hyperlipidemia is another very common problem that is increasing rapidly all over the world. Altered lipid profile further increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, it is very important to keep both LDL and total cholesterol levels well under control.
A study published in the year 2009 investigated the effects of consuming kiwifruit on lipid profile and markers of lipid peroxidation. The study found that subjects with altered lipid profiles who consumed two kiwi fruits per day for 8 weeks lowered their levels of LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol as well as total cholesterol. Besides this, the level of HDL (healthy) cholesterol also increased significantly. Thus, people with altered lipid profile can surely add kiwi to their daily diet. (2)
It is very correctly said that all disease begins in the gut. Therefore, it is very important to keep the gut clean and healthy.
Constipation is a very common problem in which there is difficulty in passing stools. Kiwifruit is a good source of dietary fiber and possesses laxative properties. Research has showed that consuming kiwifruit daily increased the faecal volume and frequency in individuals with chronic constipation without causing any side effects. The dietary fiber present in kiwi has high water holding capacity that swells in the gut and provides bulk to the stools. Thus, they can be easily passed without put pressure on the gut. (2, 3)
Effect on Sleep Quality
Insomnia is a common problem in which people are unable to sleep. Studies have found that sleep disorders and neuropsychiatric problems are associated with increased levels of oxidative stress.
Kiwifruit is extremely rich in vitamin C, vitamin E and serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are positively linked to insomnia. In addition to this, kiwifruit is also rich in folate. Folate deficiency is further associated with neuropsychiatric disorders. Therefore, research has observed that consuming two kiwifruit one hour before bedtime may improve the quality of sleep, onset of sleep, sleeps duration and reduces sleep disturbances. (4)
Immune Boosting Effect
The immune boosting effect of kiwifruit is not just attributed to the presence of vitamin C in it, but also due to the presence of various polyphenols. Markers of oxidative stress were greatly reduced in individuals who consumed kiwifruit three times per day. These individuals did not consume any other fruit, juice or supplement at the same time. Besides vitamin C, kiwifruit is reported to contain vitamin E and polyphenols such as CAFFEIC ACID, QUERCETIN, EPICATHECHIN and NARINGENIN. These antioxidants and polyphenols have shown to play a protective role in cardiovascular diseases and altered lipid profile. (5)
Powerful Anti-Oxidant Properties
It is very well known that kiwifruit is completely packed with vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant. Besides vitamin C, there are many other potent antioxidants present in kiwi. Consuming kiwi everyday can help your body fight oxidative stress effectively.
Increased load of free radicals and reactive oxygen species has put human body at a greater risk of developing some diseases and disorders such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, hyperglycemia, cataract, arthritis, ageing and so on.
Kiwi is one such natural source of antioxidants that scavenges the free radicals, fights oxidative stress and keeps diseases and disorders at bay. A study published in 2011 compared the antioxidant effects of kiwi with other fruits. It was found that gold kiwi had the strongest antioxidant effects followed by green kiwi, grapefruit and orange. (5, 6)
Effect on Cardiovascular Disease
Uncontrolled plasma glucose levels, high levels of total cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides, obesity, and hypertension and platelet aggregation are some of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Research has showed that vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and polyphenols present in fruits reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, different fruits have different proportion of antioxidants and polyphenols present in them.
One study published in 2004 has reported that kiwifruit contains significant amount of polyphenols and antioxidants (vitamin C and vitamin E). The study further showed that consuming 2 to 3 kiwifruit per day reduced platelet aggregation and lowered triglyceride level. Thus, consuming kiwifruit daily can be heart-protective and may keep cardiovascular diseases at bay. (7, 8)
Effect on Blood Pressure
Individuals with high blood pressure are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Therefore, to cut down the risk of these diseases it becomes very important to maintain normal blood pressure levels (120/80 mm Hg).
A recent study published in 2015 compared the effects of kiwifruit versus apple on blood pressure. It was further observed that blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) was lowered in individuals who consumed kiwifruit daily. Kiwifruit is rich in antioxidants and potassium that helps in vasodilation (relaxation of cells in the blood vessels so that blood can flow easily and smoothly) and lowers blood pressure in individuals with hypertension. Therefore, kiwi can be made a part of DASH diet (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) to reduce blood pressure successfully. (9, 10)
Effect on Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
Cold and influenza are very common infections in humans. People who are undernourished or the ones who have poor immunity levels are at an increased risk of cold, influenza and respiratory tract infections. Furthermore, increased oxidative stress load along with poor nutritional intake enhances the risk of infections.
A recent study published in 2012 showed that individuals who consumed gold kiwifruit daily experienced a reduction in the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection such as head congestion and sore throat as compared to individuals who consumed banana on a daily basis. Furthermore, it was observed that the severity of symptoms had also reduced in individuals who consumed kiwi. The micronutrients provided by kiwifruit are very important for a healthy immune system and plays an important role in the prevention of infections. Some studies even observed that consuming kiwifruit daily had more beneficial effects on upper respiratory tract infections than vitamin C supplements. (11, 12)
Disadvantages of Kiwi Fruit
Kiwi Fruit Allergy
Individuals who are allergic to kiwifruit should strictly not consume it. When such individuals consume kiwifruit accidently or unknowingly it may leads to an array of kiwi fruit allergy symptoms or in extremely sensitive cases, it may lead to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Studies are still trying to find out major allergens present in kiwifruit that are responsible for the allergies but results are conflicting. (13, 14)
Kiwifruit is rich in dietary fiber and has laxative effect. Eating a huge amount of kiwifruit on a daily basis may in turn increase the dietary fiber intake and cause loose stools or diarrhoea. Therefore, one should not consume too may kiwifruit at one go.
Ways to Consume Kiwi Fruit
- Some people have it with the entire skin
- Some like to peel the skin off
- In form of fruit salad
- Fresh kiwi juice coupled with other fruits or vegetables
- It can be added to parfait
- It can be blended into a smoothie
- One can make their own kiwi jam
- Garnish ice creams or custards with dried kiwi pieces
- Healthy individuals without any clinical conditions can safely consume at least two kiwifruit per day.
- Individuals with renal diseases who need to restrict their potassium intake should strictly limit or if possible avoid kiwifruit.
- Individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus should consume at least one kiwifruit per day.
- Cancer patients who need to fight oxidative stress can consume at least two kiwifruit per day.
- Patients with infections such as cold or upper respiratory tract infections can consume one to two kiwifruit per day.
- Gholamreza Mohajeri, M. S. (2014). Effects of topical Kiwifruit on healing of neuropathic diabetic foot ulcer. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 520-524.
- Chang CC, L. Y. (2010). Kiwifruit improves bowel function in patients with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 451-457.
- Annie On Chan, G. L. (2007). Increasing dietary fiber intake in terms of kiwifruit improves constipation in Chinese patients. World Journal of Gastroenterology.
- Lin HH, T. P. (2011). Effect of kiwifruit consumption on sleep quality in adults with sleep problems. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 169-174.
- Iwasawa H, M. E. (2011). Anti-oxidant effects of kiwi fruit in vitro and in vivo. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 128-134
- Hunter DC, G. J. (2011). Antioxidant and ‘natural protective’ properties of kiwifruit. Current topics in medicinal chemistry, 1811-1820.
- AK, D. (2013). Cardio-protective Properties of Kiwifruit. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, 273-282.
- Asim K. Duttaroy, A. J. (2004). Effects of Kiwifruit Consumption on Platelet Aggregation and Plasma Lipids in Healthy Human Volunteers. Platelets, 287-292.
- A Karlsen, M. S. (2013). Kiwifruit decreases blood pressure and whole-blood platelet aggregation in male smokers. Journal of Human Hypertension, 126-130.
- Hunter DC, S. M. (2012). Consumption of gold kiwifruit reduces severity and duration of selected upper respiratory tract infection symptoms and increases plasma vitamin C concentration in healthy older adults. The British journal on nutrition, 1235-1245
- Skinner MA, B.-H. K. (2013). Effects of kiwifruit on innate and adaptive immunity and symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. Advances in food and nutrition research, 301-320
- Kiwi fruit is a significant allergen and is associated with differing patterns of reactivity in children and adults
- Anaphylaxis after accidental ingestion of kiwi fruit