The kiwifruit, native to northern China, first arrived in New Zealand at the turn of the 20th century; it was then known as the Chinese Gooseberry.
When the time came to export the fruit, to avoid the high duties charged on berries, the name was changed to the kiwifruit.
It was nicknamed kiwifruit because of the shared characteristics with New Zealand's national symbol, the kiwi bird, which is also small, brown, and fuzzy. Kiwis are a nutrient-dense food, meaning that they are high in nutrients and low in calories.
Fast facts on kiwifruit:
- Kiwifruit is technically considered a berry.
- Purported health benefits include better sleep and skin health.
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation for the United Nations (FAO), China is the top producer, growing over 1.8 million tonnes in 2014.
- An average kiwifruit contains just 54 calories.
Studies have shown that increased consumption of plant foods like kiwifruit decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality.
Other benefits include:
Healthful looking skin
Collagen, the support system of the skin, is reliant on vitamin C. This vitamin is an essential nutrient and antioxidant; it helps prevent damage caused by the sun, pollution, and smoke, smoothes wrinkles, and improves overall skin texture.
One study, published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at the effects of kiwifruit on sleep quality in adults with sleep problems. They found that eating kiwis improved sleep according to self-rated measures.
The fiber and potassium in kiwis supports heart health. An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium can help reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. In one study, published in the journal
High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density, and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.
Lowering blood pressure
Due to their high potassium content, kiwifruit can help reduce high blood pressure. It is well known that a high sodium intake is a risk factor for high blood pressure; however, low potassium intake is also a risk factor.
Numerous studies have reported that the kiwi may have a mild laxative effect and could be used as a dietary supplement, especially for individuals experiencing constipation. Regular consumption of kiwifruit was shown to promote bulkier, softer, and more frequent stool production.
Per medium fruit, the kiwifruit contains:
- calories - 42
- protein - 0.8 grams
- total fat - 0.4 grams
- fiber - 2.1 grams
- vitamin C - 64 milligrams
- vitamin A - 3 micrograms
- iron - 0.2 milligrams
- potassium - 252 milligrams
- folate - 17 micrograms
Here are some handy tips to incorporate more kiwifruit into your diet:
- Cut a ripe kiwi in half, leaving the skin on, and eat each half with a spoon, using the skin as its own natural bowl.
- Make your own fresh tropical fruit cocktail and include kiwis, pineapple, mango, and strawberries.
- Drizzle a small amount of honey on top of the fruit mixture for an extra sweet treat.
- Make a green smoothie or juice with kiwi, spinach, apple, and pears.
- Freeze slices of kiwi and eat them as a snack or dessert on a hot day.
- Dice up kiwi and use as a summer salad topper over a bed of spinach, walnuts, dried cranberries, diced apple, feta cheese, and a light vinaigrette dressing.
Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. High potassium foods such as bananas should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.
Consuming too much potassium can be harmful for those whose kidneys are not fully functional. If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal.