What Are the Benefits of Eating Kiwi Fruit?
Kiwi (also known as kiwi fruit or kiwifruit) was introduced to New Zealand from China around 1906, and though it isn’t related to the green gooseberry, New Zealanders called this unusual fruit “Chinese gooseberry,” probably because both berries have pale green flesh. Later, as New Zealand became a primary kiwi-producing nation, and as foreign demand for the fruit increased, they renamed the fruit after their national bird, the kiwi. Over the years, the kiwi has emerged from the status of an exotic delicacy to a highly popular fruit that is widely consumed (and grown) in the United States.
Kiwi is deceptively plain in appearance. Beneath its fuzzy brown surface you’ll find brilliant pale green flesh speckled with a ring of tiny edible black seeds. Delicate, tart, sweet, and complex in flavor, kiwi is a berry that can be delightfully refreshing when eaten on its own. It also serves as a colorful garnish for a variety of dishes.
Types of Kiwi
The most common type of kiwi in the markets is the green Hayward (though it will only be labeled “kiwifruit”). Other types may also be available in specialty markets. Here is a sampling of varieties of kiwi:
Gold: Gold kiwis have bronze skin and a pointed cap at one end. Inside, the flesh is mustard-colored. The texture, when firm-ripe, is similar to a green kiwi, but when fully ripe becomes almost custard-like. The flavor is multilayered and complex, blending lemon, strawberry, and banana.
Hardy: This is one of several varieties of kiwi designed to withstand colder temperatures. Once only available to home gardeners, these small, smooth-skinned, grape-sized kiwis are becoming more commercially available. They are sold in the market as baby kiwis or grape kiwis. Their flavor is similar to other kiwis, with an intriguing blend of tart and sweet. They can be eaten skin and all.
Hayward: There are over 50 species of fruit that belong to kiwi’s genus, but by far the most common variety is the Hayward, which is green-fleshed and covered with brown fuzz.
Kolomikta: Another type of kiwi designed to withstand colder temperatures, this variety is also called Arctic kiwifruit. It is smaller than the Hayward. Ounce for ounce, kolomikta kiwi’s vitamin C content is 10 times higher than that of Hayward kiwis.
One cup of sliced kiwifruit provides 5g of fiber. The Institute of Medicine recommends most adult women consume at least 25g of fiber daily and men, 38g. Fiber can help fill you up, keep your digestive system running well and may help lower cholesterol.
In 1 cup of kiwi, you get over 270 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, scavenging free radicals in your body to help prevent disease. It is also essential to the formation and repair of tissue, particularly cartilage, blood vessels, tendons and skin. Kiwi is also a source of vitamin K, with 1 cup offering 89 percent of the RDA. Vitamin K helps with blood clotting and absorption of vitamin D. Kiwi also provides 13 percent of the RDA for vitamin E and 11 percent for folate in a 1-cup serving.
Potassium is a mineral that helps keep your body’s fluids and other minerals in balance. Too little potassium may lead to weakness, stroke and irregular heartbeat. One cup of kiwi contains 552mg of potassium, more than the 467mg found in a small banana. A potassium-rich diet helps to control blood pressure.
Choosing kiwifruit as a snack in lieu of higher calorie fare can help you control your weight. One medium-sized fruit has just 46 calories, and a full cup of kiwi slices contains 108 calories, about the same amount as a medium banana. Use kiwi to replace half of your morning cereal to save calories; add it to cottage cheese for a high-protein, low-calorie snack; or blend it into a smoothie with mint leaves and strawberries.