One of the most underestimated fruits is probably the kiwi. Small, green, and squishy in texture, it is not usually on a person’s mind when they think of grabbing a piece of fruit. An exotic berry from the vine plant Actinidia deliciosa, the kiwifruit’s fuzzy outer surface protects the delicious inside from external forces before it is ready to enjoy.
Originally called the Chinese Gooseberry, to market the fruit more globally, it was renamed “melonette” in the 1950s and then to “kiwifruit” by exporters in New Zealand. A kiwi is the national bird of New Zealand and people from the country are also called “Kiwis,” so in order to alleviate any confusion, kiwifruit is not abbreviated in New Zealand, but most everywhere else the fruit is shortened and known simply as kiwi.
Rutgers University recently conducted a study of the 27 most popular fruits—although I do not think I can name that many types of fruit off the top of my head—and named kiwi the “most nutritionally dense” among all of them. The kiwi, with its tangy, saliva-inducing taste, gives you a day’s worth of vitamin C, blood-pressure helping potassium, the antioxidant-rich vitamin E, and lutein, which helps promote good vision. Calorie-counting alert: a kiwi carries only 50 calories and doesn’t involve any muss or fuss to eat. Slice kiwis on top of a fruit tart and bake, layer them in a yogurt parfait or on top of pancakes, or simply slice and spoon into your mouth to enjoy its best benefits.
With more fiber than apples and twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange, (minus the seeds, rind, and pulp that tend to get in the way), kiwi also helps reduce damage from free radicals which can lead to long term diseases like cancer later in life.
A study published in early 2009 shows the New Zealand-born kiwifruit as a natural body strengthener, great for protecting the body from winter colds and flu season. Zespri kiwifruit, a popular international kiwi exporter, was put into an experiment to test it against the body’s natural defenses. Research showed that the kiwi was able to boost the natural defenses of the body, improve muscle performance and digestive health, and reduce cell damage and inflammation. The findings were published in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, a Cambridge journal. Zespri’s study merely supports previous reports that the fruit has powers not unlike other defined “super foods” like blueberries, pomegranates, spinach, and garlic among many others.
The end result of the study is that it assumes the unassertive kiwi can increase the body’s natural response triggers that are associated with afflictions and diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Kiwifruit protects against enzymes associated with cancers of the lower digestive tract and helps muscles repair from stress caused by exercise. Health science manager from Zespri Incorporated, Lynley Drummond says that the specific report was done to note the added benefits of kiwfruit because it is well known that eating (or drinking) fruit is good for maintaining health, “We all know that consuming fruit is good for us, but we wanted to know if kiwifruit in particular has a beneficial effect on the body’s natural defence system….These studies are an exciting step forward and support growing evidence that Zespri kiwifruit can strengthen the immune system and protect the body in many ways.”
So next time you are in the pharmacy aisle in your local supermarket or department store, you may want to forego the expensive cold remedies, vitamins, syrups, preventative flu teas, and effervescent tablets and swing by the produce section first before you open your wallet. If you are feeling under the weather or lethargic—before you get serious symptoms—slice open a kiwi, smile at the tiny black seeds staring back at you, and give your immune system a little boost.
Photo credit http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs24/f/2007/358/8/3/KiWii_by_bast_art.jpg