Kiwifruit, or simply kiwi, is a beautiful fruit. Basically, it is an edible berry about the size of a regular egg.
The fuzzy peel surrounds a green fruit with black seeds and a creamy white center. When the fruit is peeled and cut, it looks lovely. It has a slightly sweet and tangy taste that most people like.
Apart from its beauty and taste, kiwifruit offers a wealth of nutrients. It is an excellent source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and also contains good amounts of vitamins A, E, and K. The mineral content of kiwi includes a good amount of potassium as well as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous.
All these vital nutrients in the fruit come with an added bonus of dietary fiber. Plus, kiwifruit is low in carbohydrates as well as calories.
As kiwis are grown in different parts of the world, this fruit can be found in stores year-round. You can eat kiwi as it is or blend it into a smoothie. You can even add kiwi to salads. Today, kiwi is also available as a supplement in powder, tablet or capsule form.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of kiwifruit.
1. Helps Treat Asthma
Kiwifruit can help provide relief from asthma symptoms like wheezing and coughing.
The vitamin C and antioxidants in kiwi help treat asthma. Vitamin C is involved in the metabolism of histamine and prostaglandins, which are involved in bronchoconstriction. This, in turn, prevents asthma attacks.
A 2000 study published in Thorax analyzed the effect of citrus and kiwifruit in over 18,000 children ages 6 and 7 living in central and northern Italy. Researchers concluded that those who ate the most citrus and kiwifruit (5 to 7 servings per week) had 44 percent less incidence of wheezing. Also, there was a significant reduction in shortness of breath, nighttime coughing, chronic coughing, and runny nose.
2. Aids Digestion
Those who have digestive problems should try to eat more kiwifruit.
This fruit contains plenty of dietary fiber, which is good for digestion. Moreover, the proteolytic enzyme called actinidin in it helps break down protein, which in turn aids the digestion process.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports that under simulated gastric conditions, kiwifruit extract containing actinidin enhanced the digestion of some, but not all, food proteins.
A 2013 study published in Advances in Food and Nutrition Research confirmed the influence of kiwifruit on protein digestion. Kiwifruit extract alone can help in the digestion of some proteins present in foods, particularly those in yogurt, cheese, fish, and raw eggs.
Apart from aiding the digestion of protein, kiwi also helps prevent constipation and keeps the digestive tract healthy due to the fiber and prebiotics in the fruit.
3. Controls Blood Sugar Levels
Kiwifruit can be consumed by people who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Its glycemic index ranges from 47 to 58, so it will not raise your blood sugar level drastically.
Being high in fiber and low in carbohydrates, kiwi aids in controlling blood sugar levels and lowering cholesterol. Also, it helps treat complications associated with diabetes like neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences reports that natural compounds in kiwifruit including protein-dissolving enzymes aids in improving different aspects of the wound-healing process. Based on these benefits, researchers concluded that kiwifruit aids in the treatment of neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers.
Diabetic people should eat 1 kiwi daily to help control blood glucose levels and provide a healthy alternative to snacks high in fat or sugar.
4. Induces Better Sleep
People who have difficulty enjoying sound sleep can eat a few kiwifruits to help solve this problem.
This tangy and sweet fruit contains many medicinally useful compounds like antioxidants and serotonin that may be beneficial in the treatment of sleep disorders.
In a 2011 study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers analyzed the effect of kiwifruit consumption on sleep quality in adults with sleep problems. They found that kiwifruit consumption may improve sleep onset, duration, and efficiency in adults with self-reported sleep disturbances. However, more research is needed to understand the sleep-promoting properties of kiwifruit in detail.
To enjoy quality sleep, just eat 2 kiwifruits one hour before bedtime.
5. Supports Cardiovascular Health
Kiwifruit is loaded with vitamins C and E, polyphenols, and a good amount of potassium. All these nutrients are good for cardiovascular health.
The antioxidants like vitamins C and E aid in removing free radicals from the blood and help prevent cell damage that has been linked to cardiovascular disease like atherosclerosis.
Further, kiwis help reduce the risk of blood clots without negative consequences, unlike aspirin.
According to a 2004 study published in Platelets, intake of 2 or 3 kiwifruits per day for 28 days helped reduce platelet aggregation response to collagen and ADP by 18 percent when compared with the control group. In addition, consumption of kiwifruit lowered blood triglycerides levels by 15 percent, whereas no such effects were observed in the case of cholesterol levels.
The fiber and potassium in kiwifruit also support heart health by lowering the risk of death from ischemic heart disease.
6. Boosts the Immune System
The high vitamin C content in kiwifruit can help strengthen your immunity. This antioxidant greatly helps boost your immune system to ward off diseases and protect the body against harmful pathogens.
According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the body actually absorbs antioxidants more effectively from kiwifruit than from other antioxidant-rich fruits, such as berries and pomegranates.
A 2013 study published in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology reports that as a rich source of antioxidants, kiwifruit may protect the body from endogenous oxidative damage, support immune function and reduce the incidence and severity of cold or flu-like illnesses in at-risk groups, such as older adults and children.
Kiwi also contains vitamin E, which helps increase your body’s T-cell count, further contributing to a stronger immunity.