The kiwifruit is the fruit of the tree Actinidia chinensis (known also as kiwi tree), a large woody vine originally from China, where it grows spontaneously. Thus, the fruit is also known as the Chinese gooseberry.
The name kiwifruit is derived from the nickname of New Zealand’s inhabitants (called Kiwi’s), since New Zealand was the country where the intensive cultivation of the kiwifruit first began.
The kiwifruit has a thin, brown, finely hairy skin which covers an emerald green, juicy flesh, containing minute, black, edible seeds surrounding a white, succulent central core.
The texture of the flesh is firm until the fruit is fully ripe, then tender and juicy. The flavor can range from sweet/tart to acid.
All parts of the kiwifruit are edible, including the skin, although the last is not liked by everyone. That’s why here we will focus on the kiwifruit flesh, which can be used to prepare delicious refreshing juices.
Nutritional Benefits of Kiwifruit
The main nutritional feature of kiwifruit is its exceptional vitamin C content, which is even higher than that of oranges and lemons.
In addition to vitamin C, kiwifruit is packed with many other healthy nutrients, including vitamin A and E, folate, potassium, copper, iron and magnesium, as well as calcium and phosphorous.
It contains a relatively high amount of both soluble and insoluble fiber, as well.
Since the kiwi tree is highly resistant to parasites, the kiwifruits sold on the market are usually devoid of contamination from pesticides and other similar substances.
Health Benefits of Kiwifruit
The main health benefits of drinking kiwifruit juices result from their extremely high content in vitamin C. The whole “package” of the other vitamins and minerals in the right proportion make this fruit highly beneficial for many ailments.
Anemia: The anti-anemic effect of kiwifruit results from its high content in iron, copper and vitamin C. Iron and copper are essential for the synthesis of hemoglobin, the protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. The high content of vitamin C enhances iron absorption from the small intestine into the bloodstream.
Anti-oxidant effect: Several nutrients contained in kiwifruit, including iron, copper and vitamins C and E, have antioxidant properties and are responsible for neutralizing free radicals which can cause premature aging, inflammation, as well as many degenerative diseases.
Connective tissues health: Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen, thus its high content in kiwifruit is highly beneficial to connective tissues health, especially for bone, tooth and gum health. Not only kiwifruit can help maintain the integrity of bone tissue by enhancing the synthesis of collagen, but it also promotes its mineralization (thereby preventing osteoporosis) due to its content in calcium and phosphorous.
Constipation: Due to its relatively high content in fiber, kiwifruit has natural laxative properties that help cleanse the digestive tract and prevent or remedy digestive disorders.
Damaged sperm, repair: The rich vitamin C, an anti-oxidant, protects sperms from genetic damage that may cause a birth defect. When a couple are trying for a baby, both should prepare their overall health by increasing on this rich vitamin to increase their chances of conception and later a healthy baby.
Heart health: Due to its high potassium and low sodium content, kiwifruit helps maintain blood pressure within normal ranges and prevent hypertension. In addition, potassium plays a critical role in regulating and improving heart function, while vitamin C helps lower blood cholesterol, thereby preventing atherosclerosis and related heart disease.
Immune system: Kiwifruit is highly effective in enhancing and modulating the immune system function, thereby contributing to combat and prevent cold and flu, as well as other types of infections and inflammation.
Muscle cramps: The richness in minerals such as magnesium and potassium, help alleviate muscle fatigue, prevent muscle cramps and improve muscle strength.
Mental fatigue: The high magnesium content in kiwifruit enhances energy production within the brain, thereby increasing concentration and relieving mental fatigue.
Pregnancy: Drinking kiwifruit juice during pregnancy can help prevent nightly muscle cramps, improve the micro-circulation in legs (thereby preventing varicose veins and relieving edema in legs), prevent calcium deficiencies and constipation. In addition, the high content in folate of kiwifruit juice is helpful in preventing the occurrence of neural defects in babies.
Stomach ulcer: Consuming vitamin C rich foods helps to lower the incidence of peptic ulcers and in turn, reduce the risk of stomach cancer.
Kiwifruit can be eaten whole after the skin is peeled, or cut into thin slices to garnish desserts, soups and salads.
To prepare the juice, peel the fruit with a sharp knife, cut it into small pieces and place the pieces into the blender. You can add some drops of lemon juice to give it an added flavor and drink it as a healthy snack or for breakfast.
Also try to make smoothies out of kiwifruit. It blends very well with banana, juices of pineapple and apple.
Some people can be intolerant to certain substances contained in kiwifruit, namely the protein actinidin and calcium oxalate that can trigger undesirable reactions especially in young children and those who have kidney problems. Most of these reactions are generally mild.
This is the only (and uncommon) side effect of drinking kiwifruit juices. However, it is also important to remember that, when consumed in excess, the kiwifruit can cause diarrhea due to its natural laxative effect.