Kiwi: benefits, nutritional properties and lesser known uses of this fruit

Low in calories and very rich in properties, kiwifruit is a fruit dense in nutrients that brings numerous benefits to our health. Discover the characteristics and properties of this fantastic fruit.

Kiwi is a very popular fruit, produced by numerous species of lianas of the genus Actinidia, belonging to the Actinidiaceae family, whose name derives from the symbolic animal of New Zealand, the Kiwi.

The most widespread variety is the Hayward and it is the classic fruit that we all know; with brown and hairy skin, it contains a bright green pulp, a little acidulous, whose characteristic are the small black seeds arranged in a radial pattern around the center of the fruit.

Another very common variety is the yellow kiwi (Gold variety), whose fruit appears more elongated in shape, with a golden yellow pulp and a sweeter taste, on whose skin there are generally no lint.

Originally from China, it was subsequently exported to New Zealand where it took the name of “Chinese gooseberry” and from there the conquest of world markets began; kiwi is in fact exported all over the world, but Italy is the world’s largest producer of this fruit with cultivation mainly concentrated in Lazio.

The properties of kiwifruit are numerous, studies suggest that consuming these fruits brings a variety of benefits to our health, including decreased risk of heart disease, reduced constipation and better digestion of proteins.

Kiwi: calories and nutritional values

Like most fresh fruit, kiwis are mainly composed of water and carbohydrates, but despite this, thanks to the moderate glycemic index, they are a safe food for consumption even by people with diabetes.

From an energy point of view, however, how many calories does a kiwi have? Kiwi fruit is not too high in calories because it contains about 61 calories per 100 grams of product. It should also be noted that a portion of kiwi is given by the consumption of 2 small fruits. The following table collects the main nutrients present in kiwis.

Nutritional values ​​per 100g of kiwi:

  • Waterfall: 83.07 g
  • kcal: 61
  • Proteins: 1.14 g
  • Fat: 0.52 g
  • of which saturated: 0.029 g
  • Carbohydrates: 14.66 g
  • of which sugars: 8.99 g
  • Fibers: 3 g
  • C vitamin: 92.7 mg
  • Potassium: 312 mg
  • Phosphorus: 34 mg
  • Soccer: 34 mg
  • Choline: 7.8 mg
  • Glycemic index: 53
  • Cholesterol: 0 g

Kiwi: what it contains

Kiwi is a nutrient dense fruit. Inside, in fact, it contains numerous minerals, vitamins and a good amount of fiber. Now let’s see in detail the nutrients that make up the kiwi.

  • Fibers: The kiwi pulp is made up of about 3% of fibers, including both insoluble fibers (such as lignin and hemicellulose) and soluble ones, in particular pectins. Fiber is not digested in the intestine, but once it reaches the colon it promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, reducing the risk of developing colorectal cancer and protecting us against infections. Furthermore, adequate fiber intake also has other benefits such as an increase in the sense of satiety, an improvement in intestinal transit and a reduction in the absorption of simple sugars and fats, especially cholesterol;
  • Vitamin C: also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a very powerful antioxidant that is very common in fruit and vegetables. 2 kiwis are sufficient to provide more than 150% of the recommended daily dose of this vitamin, a much higher value when compared to the vitamin C intake of an orange;
  • Vitamin K: essential for blood clotting but also useful in preventing osteoporosis;
  • Potassium: essential mineral involved in the control of blood pressure, heart health, nerve transmission and hydro-saline exchange at the cellular level;
  • Vitamin E: very powerful antioxidant, protects cells from environmental toxins and the action of free radicals. The seeds of kiwis are particularly rich in this vitamin;
  • Copper: participates in the formation of hemoglobin by promoting the use of iron and is found in many enzymes. It plays an important role in the formation of collagen and elastin, the main structural components of our body. A copper deficiency can cause anemia, hypercholesterolemia, bone fragility and demyelination of the nervous system;
  • Folate (vitamin B9): essential for normal cellular function, tissue growth, in reducing both physical and mental fatigue and are very important for women’s health, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding;
  • Quercetin: molecule with an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, whose contribution can reduce the risk of heart disease and blood pressure;
  • Lutein: among the most abundant carotenoids present in kiwis. The high intake of lutein can promote vision health;
  • Actinidin: one of the main allergens found in kiwifruit. It can improve the digestion of proteins by being an enzyme capable of breaking them down.

Kiwi: health benefits

The components present inside it give the kiwi useful properties to support the health of the whole organism. In particular, kiwis promote intestinal regularity, facilitate the digestion of proteins and the absorption of iron, have antioxidant properties, strengthen the immune system, are allies of heart health and help improve the appearance of skin and hair. Let’s see in detail all the benefits that regular consumption of these fruits brings.

✓ Kiwi against constipation

Constipation is a disorder characterized by bowel irregularity, hard stools, and little or no bowel movement. It is linked to poor colon health and is a cause for concern especially when older people are affected. Several studies indicate that consuming kiwifruit can help counter constipation. Thanks to the natural laxative effect that this fruit causes. A study, would have shown how the consumption of 2 kiwis a day for 4 weeks would help to “go to the bathroom” as it improves bowel movements and therefore evacuation in subjects with the syndrome irritable bowel, a functional disorder of the gastrointestinal system, characterized by abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation or diarrhea alternating with constipation.

✓ Better digestion of proteins

Kiwis are rich in actinidin, a unique plant compound capable of denaturing (breaking down) proteins. Animal studies have shown that actinidin can improve the digestion of proteins in the intestine and, for this reason, the consumption of kiwifruit can benefit those people with impaired protein digestion and in those who experience an unpleasant feeling of fullness after having taken high protein meals.

✓ Heart health

Heart disease is currently the most common cause of premature death in the world. Some of the major risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and the presence of blood clots. Several studies indicate that consuming 2-3 kiwifruit per day can reduce some of these risk factors:

  • Reduction of blood pressure: a study showed that the consumption of a couple of kiwis a day determines the reduction of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, also improving endothelial function;
  • Blood thinning action: thanks to the good potassium content, the consumption of kiwifruit acts by improving blood thinning, thus reducing the risk of blood clots;
  • Better lipid profile: the consumption of kiwifruit would act by improving the blood lipid profile through the reduction of triglycerides and the increase of good cholesterol (HDL).

✓ Kiwis improve sleep

Numerous studies have revealed that kiwis are rich in various compounds including antioxidants and serotonin which can be useful in the treatment of sleep disorders, so much so that these fruits are considered as real food sedatives.

✓ Better absorption of iron

Kiwis are an excellent source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) which has the ability to increase the absorption of iron from the digestive tract. Therefore, finishing the meal with a couple of kiwis is a great strategy to prevent anemia.

✓ Antioxidant properties of kiwis

Kiwis are rich in an impressive amount of vitamin C, much greater than citrus fruits, guaranteeing these fruits excellent antioxidant properties, thus protecting our DNA from oxidative damage, reducing the risk of developing inflammatory and cancer diseases.

✓ Benefits of kiwi for skin and hair

Kiwi, thanks to the high concentration of vitamin C, helps fight skin damage caused by sun exposure and pollution, relaxes and purifies the skin, reduces wrinkles and improves the general structure of the skin. Furthermore, vitamin C also plays an essential role in the formation of collagen, the main support system of the skin. Due to these properties, kiwi is the basis of many beauty recipes, including masks and ointments. In addition, it is good for the hair because it stimulates keratin and makes it shinier.

✓ Kiwis strengthen the immune system

Vitamin C, which this fruit is rich in, also protects against infections, stimulating the formation of antibodies and strengthening the immune system.

How many kiwis to eat

First of all, as mentioned above, remember that a portion of kiwi is equal to about 150 grams and, in this case, they correspond to about 2 medium-sized fruits. This quantity is sufficient to provide the body with over 100% of the recommended vitamin C requirement. The guidelines on healthy eating recommend consuming at least 2 servings of fruit a day, therefore, when they are in season (from November to May approximately), it is possible to consume 4 kiwis per day. We remind you, however, that a healthy diet is also given by the variety of products we bring to the table and, in this context, it is advisable to consume other seasonal fruits as well.

Kiwis: how to use and store them

Harvesting of kiwifruit should be done when the fruit is slightly soft to the touch but still firm, avoiding those that are bruised or have damp spots. If the kiwi does not yield to a slight pressure it indicates that the fruit is still unripe.

If you have picked or bought unripe kiwis, you can help ripen them by keeping them for a couple of days at room temperature, away from heat sources or you can put them in a paper bag together with an apple or a banana. Ripe kiwifruit can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

Here are some tips for adding kiwifruit to your diet:

  • Kiwis can be used for the preparation of jams and jellies, alone or in combination with other fruits;
  • You can add some kiwis to your fruit salads or as ingredients of fruit skewers, this is a trick that will allow your children to appreciate this fruit too;
  • Smoothie: you can prepare an excellent winter smoothie by mixing 1 kiwi, 50g of spinach, ½ apple, ½ pear, a teaspoon of spirulina and 100ml of natural almond milk;
  • A fun way to consume kiwifruit is to cut it in half, leaving the skin on and eating it with a teaspoon;
  • Add a few slices of kiwi to a salad of baby spinach, walnuts, dried cranberries, pomegranate, a few slices of avocado and season everything with an orange vinaigrette.

Kiwi, as we have seen, is also an ally for beauty. To purify the skin (this fruit has sebum-regulating properties, it is suitable for any type of skin but is particularly recommended for oily or impure skin), it is possible to create a homemade mask by mixing 1 kiwi smoothie with 2 or 3 tablespoons of natural yogurt. Spread on the skin of the face and keep on for at least 15 minutes before rinsing with warm water.

Kiwifruit can also be used to make a hair mask: mix crushed kiwifruit with a fork, yogurt and honey in equal quantities and deposit on the hair from root to tip. Wrap the head with cling film and leave on for 20 minutes. After that go to normal washing. Your hair will be shiny and easy to comb.

Kiwi: contraindications and potential negative effects

Kiwis are generally well tolerated and have no major contraindications, however some people may be allergic to them or can cause mouth irritation and stomach pain.

  • Allergy: among the allergies with less severe symptoms, that to kiwifruit is often characterized by diarrhea, stomach pain, mild swelling and itching or itching in the mouth; in rare cases it can cause anaphylactic shock which is a reaction more commonly seen in children than adults. Those who are allergic to latex and birch pollen are more likely to be allergic to kiwifruit due to allergic cross-reactivity;
  • Diarrhea: being rich in fiber, kiwifruit is used as a natural remedy for constipation, but those who are more sensitive to the natural laxative effects of this fruit can experience diarrhea, especially after excessive consumption.

Why does kiwifruit pinch your mouth

In some people, the consumption of kiwifruit can cause irritation or tingling in the mouth and this may be due to a form of allergy to kiwifruit, which is quite common and which, as we said above, presents itself with tingling and redness in the mouth.

However, this sensation is not always caused by an allergic reaction. Sometimes, however, a proteolytic enzyme called actinidin causes the tingling sensation in the mouth. This substance, which is however also the main responsible for allergy to kiwifruit, produces itching because it degrades part of the proteins found in saliva and on the tongue, producing this sensation. Furthermore, the oxalic acid present in the fruit can also help increase this effect.

However, kiwifruit does not always itch on the tongue. Ripe fruits, for example, contain less actinidin and cause less of this effect. Also, if kiwifruit is eaten after a high-fat meal it shouldn’t irritate due to the protective fat layer on the tongue. If, on the other hand, it is consumed together with other fruit, the spicy sensation may increase due to the acids contained in the fruit.


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