Let’s face it, kiwis are pretty great. And no, we’re not talking about New Zealanders or a flightless bird (although they’re great, too). We’re talking about the delicious kiwifruit.
The kiwifruit is native to South Asia and is revered around the world for its fresh, tangy taste. It’s typically imported into the United States from New Zealand (under the “Zespri” brand), though oftentimes you can find the California-grown “Hayward” variety in the US during the winter. There are two consumer varieties available here in the US: the aptly named Actinidia deliciosa (green kiwi) and Actinidia chinensis (golden kiwi, branded as SunGold).
While they are exotic and delicious, kiwis aren’t just celebrated for their great taste—they exhibit a favorable nutrient profile which, research suggests, provides surprising health benefits. In that spirit, we’re going to provide some fun and useful facts about kiwifruit: Why it’s good for you, and most importantly, how you can eat it.
Here are 5 surprising facts about kiwifruit. Hope you came hungry.
You Can Eat the Skin
Yes, it’s true. You can eat that fuzzy brown skin. Beyond being surprisingly tasty, it offers high amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber supports the gastrointestinal tract by regulating waste material moving through the colon. Soluble fiber isolates cholesterol for excretion, while also benefiting the health of your gut, where it acts as an energy source for beneficial bacteria’s growth and multiplication. This spreads more benefits to your immune system and overall digestive health.
It’s an Excellent Source of Vitamin C
Green kiwis have twice the amount of vitamin C, per serving, as oranges and strawberries—and the gold kiwi has three times the amount! Vitamin C supports immune function and is essential for collagen production and connective tissue integrity. Moreover, vitamin C is going to help you maximize the absorption of iron found in plant-based foods.
It Maximizes Your Protein Digestion
Actinidin, an enzyme found in kiwis, has been shown to aid in the digestion of dietary protein in the human body. It conveys similar beneficial digestive effects as other fruit-derived digestive enzymes such as papain and bromelain. Studies suggest that combining kiwifruit with a high protein meal may reduce abdominal discomfort and bloating by enhancing protein digestion in the stomach and promoting gastric emptying.
It Boosts Your Immunity
Polyphenols, like vitamin C, also behave as antioxidants, and their activity has been shown to aid in lowering the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Quercetin is the dominant polyphenol in kiwifruit. It has been shown to impart antimicrobial properties by preventing pathogens from adhering to epithelial cells, which line the gastrointestinal tract.
There are Multiple Ways to Enjoy It
You can do so much more with a kiwi than just cutting it open and eating it—though, that’s great too. It’s perfect for incorporating into a fruit salad or working into your breakfast routine. Or, if you’re feeling more creative, you can make a kiwi-topped pavlova or even marinate a lean cut of meat with kiwifruit juice for a tangy, tender bite.
The kiwifruit may seem like a mysterious fruit from a different world, but in the end it’s equal parts nutritious and delicious. It’s one of those rare foods that seem too good to be true but isn’t. By incorporating it into your routine, you’ll be adding some much-needed tang and nutrition into your life.
Bayer, S. B. et al. (2017). Putative Mechanisms of Kiwifruit on Maintenance of Normal Gastrointestinal Function. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2017.1327841
California Kiwifruit. (2009). Availability of Kiwifruit. http://www.kiwifruit.org/about/availability.aspx
Drummond, L. (2013). The Composition and Nutritional Value of Kiwifruit. Advanced Food and Nutrition Research. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-394294-4.00003-1
López-Sobaler, A. M. et al. (2016). Nutritional and Health Benefits Associated with Kiwifruit Consumption. Nutrición Hospitalaria. DOI:http://dx.dpi.org/10.20960/nh.340
Richardson, D. P. et al. (2018). The Nutritional and Health Attributes of Kiwifruit: A Review. European Journal of Nutrition. DOI: 10.1007/s00394-018-1627-z.
Salim, R. et al. (2017). Characterization of Chemical and Antioxidant Properties of Kiwi Fruit. The Pharma Innovation Journal. 6(12): 74-77