Characterized by their slightly sweet, tangy flavor and soft, creamy center, kiwis are an easy fruit to love. If you haven’t eaten a whole kiwi before, you might be reminded of your favorite high-calorie fruit tart when you see this funny-looking, fuzzy fruit in the market. But you don’t need to add kiwis to sweet pastries for them to be perfectly sweet for your health. Slicing up this tasty little fruit for an afternoon snack or adding kiwi to a salad or your morning smoothie are all healthy ways to get more this nutrient-rich, fat-free food in your diet.
Originally coined the ‘Chinese gooseberry,’ kiwis are indigenous to China’s Yangtze River Valley. They were introduced to New Zealand by missionaries in the early 1900s. This is how they got their new moniker—kiwi—named after New Zealand’s native bird. In the late 1960s, kiwis were introduced to the United States. They are now grown around the globe; France, Italy, Chile, Japan, and the United States are the world’s largest producers.
Nutrient Profile of Kiwis
There’s a reason kiwis are the new superfruit in town. With 20 vital nutrients and five times the amount of vitamin C as an orange, this low-calorie fruit packs a powerful punch. These are a just few of the reasons why it’s OK to indulge in your kiwi cravings:
- They’re filled with fiber and folate: Just one cup of kiwi provides your body with a whopping 5g of fiber. Not only can fiber keep you feeling full for longer, it can also improve your metabolism and lower your cholesterol levels. The folate found in kiwis may be especially helpful to pregnant or breastfeeding women. Folate is proven to protect developing fetuses from various birth defects.
- They’re chock-full vitamin C: You’ll get over 270 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C intake by eating just one cup of sliced kiwis. Vitamin C is a natural immune booster. This important nutrient searches for free radicals in your body and destroys them, helping you to fight off colds and infections more easily.
- They’re packed with potassium: One kiwi has more potassium than a banana. Potassium is an essential mineral that balances fluid and electrolyte levels in your body. Ever have a killer cramp in your calf? Well, it was probably caused by not getting enough potassium.
In addition to these beneficial nutrients, kiwis also contain the following:
- Vitamin A: maintains healthy vision, clear skin, and neurological function
- Vitamin E: most sources of vitamin E also contain fat, but kiwis have zero
- Vitamin K: improves bone health, cognitive health, and reduces the risk of stroke
- Magnesium: aids in reducing premenstrual cramps, preventing osteoporosis, and lowering the risk of diabetes
- Omega-6 fatty acids: these acids play a key role in brain function, growth, and bone and skin health
Health Benefits of Kiwis
In a 2015 study published in the Nutrition Journal, 1,469 participants were split into two groups based on their average consumption of kiwis. Researchers found that those participants who consumed at least one kiwi per week had improved high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels (this is your “good” cholesterol). These participants also had lower triglyceride levels than those who consumed less than one kiwi per week. Triglycerides are a form of fat stored in your body; high levels of these substances can increase your risk of stroke.
In a separate study, 85 men with high cholesterol were followed. They found that men who consumed two kiwis per day while also adhering to a healthy diet experienced reduced inflammation and lipid levels. Other studies have shown kiwis to be effective in lowering blood pressure and reducing symptoms of hyperlipidemia (high levels of fats in the blood).
Studies like these support the hypothesis that kiwis have a positive effect on insulin resistance, which makes them a great fruit for combating health conditions like type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Tips for Adding More Kiwis to Your Diet
Looking to get more of these little green wonders in your diet? Follow the tips below to get started:
- Whip up a kiwi salad. Cut up some kiwi slices. Then add mixed greens, mango cubes, red currants, and some low-fat yogurt dressing for a filling, flavorful meal.
- Add them to your morning smoothie. Cut up two kiwis and a half cup of strawberries. Dump your sliced fruit into the blender. Now add ice cubes, one scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt, and a splash of pineapple juice. Blend your nutrient-packed concoction until smooth.
- Make them part of your mid-day snack. Are you a yogurt lover? What about a cottage cheese connoisseur? If these are some of your go-to snacks, top them off with a few kiwi slices for an antioxidant boost.
What Makes Kiwis Special
Although they contain sugar, kiwis are a fat-free food (this is a real rarity as most nutrient-dense foods contain some fat content). For those of you looking to adopt a low-fat diet, control your blood sugar, lower your cholesterol, or boost your immunity, look no further than the kiwi. An added benefit of kiwis? The answer may be especially appealing to women. Kiwi extract has been shown to improve the appearance of your skin, keeping it firmer, softer, and younger-looking. The high levels of vitamin C in kiwis stimulate collagen production, which works to plump and firm the skin. So load up on kiwis and kiwi extract to improve your health from the inside out.
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