Kiwi fruit stands out among cut fruits with its semi-translucent emerald green pulp speckled with white veins and lots of small black seeds. However, the furry brownish outer skin may deter one from buying the fruit. These emerald delights contain numerous phytonutrients as well as vitamins and minerals that promote our health.
The fruit pulp has a refreshing taste reminiscent of strawberries, melons and bananas, but with its own unique sweet flavour. It is packed with more vitamin C than an equivalent amount of orange. A medium-sized fruit (66g) has 70mg of vitamin C whereas a medium-sized orange (140g) has 82mg (USDA National Nutrient Database 2005).
With its vitamin C content, regular consumption of kiwi fruit helps our immune system. Adequate intake of vitamin C has been shown to be helpful in reducing the severity of conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and for preventing recurrent ear infections.
Furthermore, the flavonoids, carotenoids and the fat-soluble antioxidants vitamins E and A present in kiwi fruit are well known for antioxidant activities. Antioxidants reduce respiratory-related health problems such as wheezing, shortness of breath or night coughing in young children.
Foods rich in vitamin E are often associated with things that have high oil content such as almond, hazel nut or sesame and sunflower seeds. Fruits such as apple, orange and pear are low in the vitamin except avocado, kiwi fruit, blackberries and papaya, which are known to have a substantial quantity of vitamin E.
In addition to its antioxidant activity, vitamin E protects our skin from being harmed by ultraviolet light. Furthermore, the dietary fibres in the fruit help in regulating cholesterol levels. The fibres also bind and remove toxins from the colon, which is helpful for preventing colon cancer.
Kiwi fruit’s glycemix index is 53 compared with banana’s 54, grape’s 59, mango’s 40-60, watermelon’s 72, apple’s and pear’s 38 and orange’s 44. Eating foods with a glycemix index value below 55 will not raise blood sugar rapidly.
The fruit also supplies the minerals - potassium, magnesium, copper and phosphorous that help regulate blood pressure, maintain hair and skin colour as well as healthy bones and connective tissues.
In a study reported in Platelets (Aug, 2004), people who ate two to three kiwi fruits per day for 28 days reduced their platelet aggregation response (potential for blood clot formation) by 18% compared to people who ate no kiwi fruit. In addition, their triglycerides (blood fats) level dropped by 15%. Kiwi fruit is now also known as a delicious fruit with blood-thinning properties. Together with its vitamin C and E content and other phytonutrients, which function individually or in concert, eating the fruit regularly protects the heart.
Kiwi fruits contain oxalates. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallise and cause health problems. People with kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating kiwi fruit.
Oxalates also interfere with absorption of calcium in the body. Eating kiwi fruit regularly is not suitable for people with low bone mineral density who want to increase their calcium stores. If you are taking calcium supplements, eat kiwi fruit two to three hours before or after taking the supplements.
People who are allergic to fruits such as papaya or pineapple are likely to be allergic to kiwi fruit too. Kiwi fruits contain the enzyme actinidin to which some people are allergic. They may suffer rashes or other uncomfortable symptoms.
Kiwi fruit is a native plant of China that bears many common names such as monkey, goat or hairy peach. Its scientific name is Actinidia chinenesis. The seeds were sent to New Zealand in the early 20th century.
It was only in the 1960s that the fruit was commercialised and named Chinese gooseberries. It was renamed “kiwi fruit” in honour of the native bird of New Zealand. The kiwi bird has a brown fuzzy coat resembling the skin of this unique fruit.
It is best to eat cut kiwi fruit immediately. If you leave the cut fruit standing aside for a while, the enzyme actinic produces bromic acid and makes the fruit overly soft and soggy. If you use it in a fruit salad, add kiwi fruit just before serving. Otherwise, it would also “tenderise” other fruits and make them soggy.
When mixing the fruit with milk or other dairy products, the enzyme actinidin dissolves the milk proteins and leaves an unpleasant taste. This makes the fruit unsuitable for use in desserts containing milk.
When selecting kiwi fruits, hold them between your thumb and forefinger and gently apply pressure, if the fruits do not yield they are not yet ready to be consumed.
Store the ripe fruit away from other fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears and potatoes for all these emit ethylene gas, which will cause the kiwi fruit to become overripe quickly.
More info on KIWI HERE.