Kiwis (Actinidia deliciosa) are tiny fruits known for their fuzzy skin and bright green flesh. They’re packed with nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium. Heart-healthy fiber is another feature of these far-reaching fruits.
Though virtually synonymous with New Zealand, kiwifruit is grown around the world during the fall though spring months. In California, you can catch a ripe kiwi between October and May, while in the southern hemisphere (Chile and New Zealand), you can treat yourself to these little delights from around April to November.
Two other major exporters of kiwis are Italy and China. The fruit’s original name, Chinese gooseberry, is a nod to its central and eastern China origins.
Kiwis have a tart yet sweet taste, which some describe as “a slap to the tongue you just can’t get enough of.” Others call kiwis the “fruit of seven flavors.”
One thing is for sure: kiwi nutrition is powerful.
The Nutritional Profile of Kiwis
Here’s what you’ll find in one fresh kiwifruit (two inches, 2.5 oz.):
|Nutrient||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Protein||0.8 grams (g)||2%|
|Vitamin C||64 milligrams (g)||85%|
|Vitamin K||27 micrograms (mcg)||31%|
|Vitamin E||1 mg||7%|
Aside from these nutrients, the kiwi is a valuable source of antioxidants. Vitamins C, E, and K help fight off free radicals to keep cells healthy, while other phytonutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin also offer unique benefits.
6 Health Benefits of Kiwifruit
Kiwis might help contribute to better health in a number of ways. As a rich source of nutrition, antioxidants, and fiber, they fit nicely into a healthy diet.
Below are six ways you could take advantage of kiwi benefits.
1. Blood Pressure and Heart Health
Potassium, fiber, and vitamin C are all essential components for a healthy heart.
A single kiwi has about five percent of the daily requirement of potassium, an electrolyte that works to relax blood vessels to help reduce blood pressure.
Another dietary cornerstone of heart health is fiber. Fiber helps remove “bad” LDL cholesterol deposits that line arterial walls and contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from free radicals and inflammation. Inflammation can play a major role in heart disease, and an adequate vitamin C intake may help keep inflammation under control.
Kiwis are a solid source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that are associated with eye health. Research suggests that eating three servings of fruit per day can reduce the risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness, by 36%. Kiwis may have added benefit because of lutein and zeaxanthin.
Because they offer plenty of fiber and possess certain digestive enzymes, kiwis may help speed up digestion. Fiber helps digestion by feeding healthy gut bacteria and helping food move through your intestines at a quicker pace. Kiwis also contain an enzyme called actinidin that can improve protein digestion.
Improved digestion and lower risk for constipation are both ways kiwi can boost your overall health.
4. Immune Health
One of vitamin C’s greatest attributes is its ability to build a healthy immune system. With 85% of the daily recommended value, kiwis can play a role in reducing the severity of colds and other illnesses.
One study found that eating two kiwis per day could help sleep quality in adults suffering from poor sleep. Although the exact mechanism is unclear, researchers believe it may have something to do with the serotonin content of kiwifruit.
6. Blood Clotting
In addition to contributing to healthy blood pressure, kiwi may reduce the risk of blood clots. One study found that eating two or three kiwis per day made a significant difference in blood clot risk and the amount of fat circulating in blood.
How to Prepare Kiwi
Holding a kiwi between your thumb and index finger and giving it a squeeze will let you know if it’s ready to eat. If it has a little bit of give, it’s ready. If it’s hard, it’s under-ripe, and if it’s soft, it’s overripe.
Ideally, you want to avoid damp, shriveled, or spotted kiwis. If you buy them before they’re ripe, you can store them at room temperature at home for a few days. Putting them in a paper bag may help speed up the process. Most kiwis will last for a week at room temperature or in the fridge.
There are numerous ways to enjoy kiwifruit. You can just grab, wash, and eat if you feel like it. If the fuzzy skin isn’t your thing, simply cut it in half and scoop the flesh out with a spoon.
Peeling and slicing up a kiwi to place on a green salad or add in a fruit salad with strawberries, melon, or mango also works.
If you like cold soup, blending kiwifruit with cantaloupe is a great idea. Include some yogurt for creamier texture.
Nutrients in kiwi can interact with certain medications, so some may need to monitor their intake. Including a kiwi or two each day is unlikely to make much impact in this area, but if you’re supplementing or eating massive amounts of other foods with these nutrients, you may experience complications.
Kiwi intake may influence the efficacy and risk of the following medications:
- Beta blockers
- Blood thinners
Kiwis may also carry added risk for people with kidney problems, so talk to your doctor before consuming.
Lastly, kiwis can result in severe allergic reactions in some people. If you’re not sure if you’re allergic, eat a very small amount to see if you develop any symptoms.
Chilled Kiwi-Cantaloupe Soup Recipe
The dog days of summer are over, but who says you can’t enjoy a cold soup well into fall? Try this chilled kiwi-cantaloupe soup with a nice mix of hot and cold and sweet and savory.
Servings: 6 tea cups
- 2 cups plus 1/2 cup cantaloupe
- 1/3 cup plus 20 g kiwifruit
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- Zest of 1/2 lime
- Paprika (a pinch)
- Optional garnish: 6 slices lean prosciutto
- Cut a peeled cantaloupe in half. Scoop out the seeds and membrane and discard, then cut remaining halves into 1/4-inch cubes.
- Cut peeled and cored kiwifruit into 1/4-inch cubes.
- Place 2 cups cantaloupe, 1/3 cup kiwifruit, yogurt, and lime zest into a blender, and pulse until smooth.
- Refrigerate for four to five hours.
- Place 1/2 cup remaining cantaloupe cubes and 20 g remaining kiwifruit cubes on parchment paper, and freeze for four to five hours.
- Before serving, if using, dice prosciutto strips and pan-fry until crispy. Drain with paper towels.
- Pour chilled soup into tea cups, and add in frozen cantaloupe and kiwifruit cubes. Top each with diced prosciutto and a pinch of paprika.
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