Kiwi is no ordinary fruit, both in terms of the way it looks as well as its nutritional content. The vibrant green slices specked with little black seeds have always worked wonders in sprucing up desserts and fruit bowls. It is a sight for the eyes and the refreshing flavour makes it a favoured choice among fruits.
Said to be Chinese in origin, it has been valued for its medicinal properties since ancient times. Ironically, along the course of history, it came to be known as the national fruit of New Zealand instead and was reintroduced to the world as ‘kiwi’ rather than its old monikers – yang tao and Chinese gooseberry. Apparently, it found its way to New Zealand via the missionaries, and gained such popularity in the country that it started being cultivated commercially and was marketed as ‘kiwi’ (bearing close resemblance to their national bird). The Europeans and the Americans too dipped in to its popularity, as they readily started using it in their cereals, desserts and other food items.
Placed under the category of exotic fruits, kiwi often features as a topping in pavlovas or in fruit bowls, salads and smoothies. Very rarely it is cooked; in desserts especially, it is used fresh as an enzyme present in it tends to break down milk proteins rather quickly, interfering with the final texture of the dish. It also acts as a tenderizing agent for meats, and is commonly used in the preparation of roasts and curries. However, to make the most of its nutritional value, it is said that the best way to have it is on its own, as a raw fruit.
The Nutritional Side to Kiwis
While we credit apple as the miracle fruit, kiwi too is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals and works in many ways to give you a nutritional boost. Here are some pointers –
1. High Source of Vitamin C
If you thought that lemons and oranges were the highest sources of Vitamin C, then think again! According to the nutritional break-up of kiwi fruit, per 100 grams contain 154 percentage of Vitamin C, which is almost twice that of lemons and oranges. Vitamin C acts as powerful antioxidant, eliminating free radicals that could cause inflammation or cancer. It also helps in boosting the immunity of the body against harmful pathogens.
2. Sleep Inducer
Having trouble sleeping? According to a research done by Taipei Medical University, “Numerous studies have revealed that kiwi fruit contains many medicinally useful compounds, among which antioxidants and serotonin may be beneficial in the treatment of sleep disorders.” It is said that having two kiwi fruits one hour before bedtime can help immensely in inducing sleep.
3. Good Source of Dietary Fiber
This exotic fruit is loaded with dietary fiber, which helps in the prevention of numerous diseases. According to a study done by the University of Leeds, “Increasing consumption of fibre-rich foods can lower risks of both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD).” According to researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, high fiber foods keep one full for longer and control metabolic markers like blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. It also facilities weight loss and is often recommended to diabetics.
4. Helps in Digestion
Kiwi fruit contains an enzyme known as actinidain which is known for its protein dissolving properties, similar to that of papain in papaya. This is the reason why it is commonly used as a meat tenderiser. Moreover, it helps in the digestion of proteins in the body and is also known to help patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.
5. Good Source of Folate
It is not without reason that the Chinese valued kiwi for its medicinal properties. It is a good source of folate, which is said to be beneficial for pregnant women because it helps in the development of the foetus, making it healthy. It is also considered to be good for growing children.
6. Powerhouse of Vitamins and Minerals
Kiwi fruit is loaded with vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins A, B6, B12, E, and potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium. These contribute collectively to the proper functioning of the body such as blood circulation through the vessels, fight stress, iron absorption for healthy bones and teeth, good vision, etc. The high levels of potassium, 312 mg per 100 grams, help in maintaining blood pressure whereas magnesium helps in the nerve and muscle functions.
7. Beautiful Skin
Kiwi is alkaline in nature, which means it helps in countering the effects of acidic foods that we quite often consume. A healthy body is one which has a good pH balance, which helps in keeping you active, full of energy, and with a youthful skin. The vitamins prevent in kiwi (C and E) are said to be great for the skin as they act as antioxidant, preventing skin degradation. Take a few slices and apply them on your skin for good results.
In addition to the above mentioned qualities, kiwi fruits contain omega 3 fatty acids, carotenoids, polyphenols, and promotes heart health.
Using Kiwi as an Ingredient
If you are looking for interesting ways to include kiwi fruit in your diet, here are some simple recipes to help you get started –