The Skinny on the Kiwi

Kiwi fruit

Photo courtesy of California Kiwi Growers

The Skinny on the Kiwi
| Published October 17, 2015|

By Maggie Nichols
Thursday Review contributor

Talk about undervalued foods!

The kiwi, also commonly called kiwifruit, is possibly the most underrated fruit in the world. But it has been staging a rally in health circles lately, not unlike the rise to prominence we saw in recent years for the unlikely pomegranate.

Kiwifruit is one of those miracle foods, period. In fact, its nutritional value is simply off-the-charts.

First, there is all that Vitamin C. According to numerous medical and nutritional websites, a typical serving of California kiwi (about three slices) contains 150% of all of your Vitamin C requirements for a single day. Since Vitamin C is absorbed quickly and efficiently into the body, and since any dosage—through supplements, food or drink—above what your body absorbs is passed along without fanfare, this makes having a few slices of kiwi each morning as easy, or easier, than almost anything else you can eat which contains Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is, of course, a miracle on its own. It is widely understood to be the human body’s best first line of defense against common conditions and ailments, including colds and flus. It can also be used as an effective treatment to ward off additional symptoms of colds and flus. (Thursday Review has published several articles about the benefits of Vitamin C).

In other words, the kiwifruit is a no-brainer if you want to get your daily allowance of Vitamin C.

Kiwi is also a great source of antioxidants, and, as we have learned over the past decade, antioxidants are a good thing, a veritable tool chest in the body’s battle against cellular breakdown and in helping to form resistance against some forms of cancer.

Then there is the issue of potassium. Potassium, like Vitamin C, is another one of those win-win scenarios: your body needs a lot of it, especially as you age. Most people hear the word potassium and instantly picture a banana—great, if weight is not an issue. But a single serving of kiwi packs even more potassium into it than a typical banana. And since the kiwi is fat free (yes, not a single gram of fat!), this gives kiwi a big edge over the banana. And that means the kiwi is a better way to maintain both electrolyte balance as well as fluid levels, before or after exercise, sports or outdoor activity. (I want to avoid gaining weight, so I avoid bananas completely, but find instead other foods high in potassium).

Kiwi is low carb, low glycemic index. That means it’s a winner for diabetics too.

Then there is fiber, which everyone needs in moderate amounts. Americans typically do not get enough high-fiber in their diet, which is why U.S. rates of certain internal diseases like stomach cancer and colon cancer run higher than the worldwide average. And here’s the real shocker. A serving of kiwi actually contains more fiber than a bowl of cereal, even bran cereal and cereals crafted to be “high in fiber.” A big bowl of Raisin Bran or Fiber One are fine if that’s what you like, but a serving of kiwi will do just as well!

Pregnant, or thinking about getting pregnant? (No, not me, but thanks for asking!) Kiwi is also high in folate (sometimes called folic acid), which doctors and the March of Dimes strongly recommend for women who are expecting. Folate is believed to be a valuable way to bolster the immune system of mother and baby, and may result in a slight reduction in rates of infant or childhood sickness. The March of Dimes also says foods high in folate can reduce the risk of birth defects.

And there are other benefits: kiwifruit is high in Vitamin E, also good for the immune system and a natural tool in lowering cholesterol; kiwi is loaded with zinc, which is especially important to men in the early-to-middling adult years (it raises testosterone levels, which, oddly, may be a small factor in what we discussed in the previous paragraph); and kiwi also helps to kickstart energy levels by pumping magnesium quickly into the body. A serving of kiwifruit may contain as much as 30 milligrams of magnesium.

Having said all of that, the best news of all is that kiwifruit tastes good. If you were expecting me to say it bears a resemblance to spinach or Brussels sprouts, you would have been wrong. In fact, kiwi is quite delicious and sweet considering that it contains only small levels of sugar and zero fat.

A few hints: kiwi makes a great milkshake or health shake when mixed with a few strawberries. All you need is a blender, 3 cups of sliced strawberries, 4 cups of sliced kiwi, 3 cups of 1% milk, and 2 to 3 cups (depending on desired richness or texture) of vanilla ice cream. If you are watching sugar levels, use sugar-free ice cream and low-fat milk.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Tasty Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer; Thursday Review; Tuesday, September 17, 2013.

A Dozen Ways to Get Your Vitamin C; Thursday Review; Saturday, September 21, 2013.