Most of you probably know about the kiwi fruit, but if you haven’t, you may head to the grocery store after finishing this article. The vibrant green flesh has a tart and mildly sweet flavor profile that is great to eat on its own. In fact, it’s rare that kiwi ends up in anything more than a fruit salad or smoothie. The reason for that is because it’s difficult to compete with the mighty kiwi, especially when it comes to the nutritional profile.
Kiwi fruit is native to the mountains and hillsides of Southwest China, but they now grow in many areas of the world. New Zealand is one of the top producers of kiwi fruit, but there are many areas in the United States that grow them as well. Technically speaking, kiwis are classified as berries, with green and yellow kiwis being the two most popular varieties. Yellow kiwis have a sweeter flavor profile and they don’t contain chlorophyll, which gives green kiwis their signature hue.
The kiwi is one of the most nutritious fruits out there. In fact, one cup of kiwi provides nearly 275% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C. The phytonutrients and other minerals all contribute to the following health benefits.
Because of the vitamin C content, kiwis are excellent for improving the overall health and appearance of the skin. Vitamin C encourages collagen production and it also accelerates wound healing. The polysaccharides in kiwis can double collagen synthesis in the body, which is great because this activity decreases with age. According to nutritional data, the average kiwi weighs about 69 grams and provides 64 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C. That equates to about 71-85% of the RDI of vitamin C. Additionally, kiwis contain vitamin E, which exhibits antioxidant properties that help protect the skin from sun damage.
One large kiwi fruit offers about 171 mg of lutein, which is substantially more than almost every other fruit. Lutein is a carotenoid that exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, and a large body of evidence states that it benefits the eyes. In fact, lutein may help prevent age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness and vision impairment. Research shows that lutein can protect the eyes by filtering out damaging short-wavelength UV light.
The great thing about kiwis, aside from the vitamin C content, is that they contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Several studies confirm that a kiwi is about one-third soluble and two-thirds insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber may improve the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and support healthy gut bacteria. Insoluble fiber can help keep your bowel movements regular. Researchers note that the fiber in kiwis can retain water and swell more than other types of fibers, like the fiber from apples or wheat bran. This means that kiwis may improve stool consistency and decrease the time it takes to eliminate your bowels.
According to the National Cancer Institute, high levels of free radicals in the body can damage DNA and cause several types of cancer. Kiwis happen to be excellent sources of antioxidants, which work to remove free radicals from the body. For this reason, health experts believe that kiwis exhibit some anti-cancer properties. Additional research shows that people who eat more fiber, especially from fruits and vegetables, have a lower risk of colorectal cancer than people who eat barely any fiber. As we mentioned previously, kiwis contain lots of soluble and insoluble fiber! Several studies also proved that both the roots and fruit of kiwis have inhibitory effects on human lung, liver, and colon cancer cell growth. This is primarily due to the polysaccharides and antioxidant profile.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Kiwi may be an excellent fruit to consume if you want to improve cardiovascular health. Several studies confirmed that eating one kiwi a day may reduce the risk of developing stroke, high blood pressure, blood clots, and other cardiovascular diseases. Kiwis also contain potassium, which works to counteract sodium in the body and lower blood pressure. Potassium is also a vasodilator, meaning it relaxes the blood vessels throughout the body. The vitamin K and dietary fiber in kiwis may also prevent the build-up of calcium in arteries, ultimately reducing the risk of heart attack. Finally, studies found that people who regularly enjoyed kiwis were able to lower overall triglyceride levels by 15%, which promotes better cardiovascular health.