Kiwi Benefits For Heart Health, Weight Loss & Nutrition Facts 2023
Kiwi fruit, usually simply called kiwi, is a fruit with yellow or green flesh, small black edible seeds, and brown or golden fuzzy skin. There are 60 species of kiwi, but the most common are the fuzzy kiwi, or Actinidia deliciosa, and the golden kiwi, or Actinidia chinensis. You can also buy kiwi powders.
The kiwi fruit originates from China and only became popular around the world in the 1960s. Kiwis were first exported to New Zealand, where, during the Second World War, they became popular among British soldiers. After the war, kiwis were exported to Britain and California, soon gaining popularity around the world.
But is kiwi healthy? In this article, we review the main kiwi benefits, side effects of eating more kiwi, and how to add kiwi to your diet.
Stunning Benefits Of Eating Kiwi
- Improved Digestive Health
- Higher Nutrient Intake
- Better Post-Meal Blood Sugar Balance
- Might Support Heart Health
Health Benefits Of Kiwi Fruit
Eating any fruit can improve your health, but kiwi fruit has a few special powers. Here are some of the main kiwi fruit benefits and side effects:
Improved Digestive Health
You won’t find many kiwis in cream desserts, and there’s a very good reason why. Kiwis contain an enzyme called actinidin, which breaks down proteins. So, when you add kiwis to cream, it breaks down the proteins and turns cream liquid. Not great for desserts, but could this enzyme benefit the human digestive system?
Indeed, test-tube studies suggest that green kiwi can quickly break down the proteins from a variety of foods. This might explain why human studies show that eating kiwi fruit improves protein digestion and gut health, particularly constipation.
A 2022 meta-analysis found that, of all the fruits, kiwis are best for improving constipation and constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS-C. But are kiwi fruit better than other sources of dietary fiber?
A 2023 clinical trial showed that eating two green kiwis daily for four weeks even fared better than psyllium husk, a high-fiber supplement, at increasing spontaneous bowel movements. This finding was confirmed by a 2022 meta-analysis. A further study suggests that eating two golden kiwis per day is as effective as psyllium husk for reducing straining.
Further studies suggest that habitually eating green kiwis reduces abdominal pain and discomfort related to constipation and increases fecal water content more than other fruits.
Higher Nutrient Intake
Kiwis are particularly high in vitamin C and other antioxidant nutrients. Sadly, survey data shows that more than 40% of the United States population is at risk of vitamin C deficiency. A low vitamin C status is associated with poor skin and hair health, inflammatory health conditions, and infections such as COVID-19.
Eating more kiwis might be an easy way to improve the vitamin C intake and immune function of the population. Studies show that consuming two kiwi fruits daily significantly increases the daily intake of total fruit, antioxidants, and vitamins C and E. Only eating half a kiwi per day results in a significant increase in vitamin C levels.
But could eating this many kiwis have an adverse effect on blood sugar balance?
Actually, no. In metabolically-healthy people, eating two kiwis per day increased total carbohydrates and fructose, but did not affect fasting insulin levels or other markers of metabolic health, suggesting the increase in sugar consumption was not harmful.
Even in those with prediabetes, studies show that eating two kiwi fruits per day significantly increased plasma vitamin C levels without significant effects on blood sugar.
In fact, studies suggest that eating kiwi fruit might even improve blood sugar balance.
Better Post-Meal Blood Sugar Balance
The problem with high-carbohydrate meals is that they spike blood sugar, harm metabolic health, and promote weight gain. Might eating kiwis help balance blood sugar and aid weight loss?
Bread is one such blood sugar-spiking culprit. One small study on healthy volunteers showed that, compared with eating bread alone, eating kiwi with or before the bread-based meal significantly reduced postprandial blood sugar rise. In case you were wondering whether you should eat the kiwi skin or not, this study found that eating kiwi with or without the skin made no difference.
But eating the kiwi before the meal — called a carbohydrate preload — might be most beneficial. One study found that eating a kiwi before a rice-based meal significantly attenuated the postprandial rise in blood sugar.
This anti-glycemic effect of kiwi fruit seems to be due to its high polyphenol, dietary fiber, and organic acid content. Also, the type of sugar predominant in kiwi fruits — fructose — has a low glycemic index, which is a scale measuring how much sugars affect insulin response.
However, this might not be unique to the kiwi fruit. Studies show that preloading with other fruits, such as apples, pears, and oranges, has a similar blood sugar-balancing effect.
Nevertheless, eating a kiwi before a meal might be a simple way to improve blood sugar balance.
Might Support Heart Health
Kiwis contain bioactive compounds that might help lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
Studies suggest that, in those with prediabetes, eating two kiwis daily for seven weeks significantly reduces blood pressure and waist circumference, a parameter used to gauge the severity of metabolic syndrome.
But are kiwis better than other fruits at improving blood pressure and heart health? One study compared kiwi and apple consumption, finding that kiwis reduced blood pressure more than apples. Further studies confirm that apple consumption has no effect on blood pressure.
An older study from 2013 suggests that kiwi fruit might be particularly beneficial for reducing the risk of heart disease in smokers by reducing blood pressure and platelet aggregation, which reduces the risk of blood clotting. Also, a study from 2015 suggests that eating at least one kiwi weekly was associated with lower blood cholesterol levels.
However, a 2019 meta-analysis found no effect of kiwifruit consumption on cardiovascular risk factors, including blood pressure. Clearly, more evidence is needed before kiwis can be championed for cardiovascular health.
Kiwi fruits are especially high in vitamin C and antioxidant polyphenols. One green kiwifruit, approximately 69 grams, provides the following nutrients:
- Energy: 42 calories.
- Protein: 0.8 grams.
- Carbohydrate: 10.1 grams.
- Fiber: 2.1 grams.
- Total sugars: 6.2 grams.
- Potassium: 215 milligrams.
- Vitamin C: 64 milligrams.
- Folate: 17.2 micrograms.
- Beta-carotene: 34.9 micrograms.
- Vitamin E: 1.0 milligrams.
- Vitamin K: 27.8 micrograms.
In terms of sugar content, green kiwifruits contain approximately equal amounts of glucose and fructose and no sucrose.
The main differences between golden and green kiwis are the vitamin C and carotenoid contents. SunGold kiwis contain more than double the vitamin C of green kiwis but contain significantly less beta-carotene.
How To Add Kiwi To Your Diet
Kiwis are easy to add to your diet. Simply eat them on their own as a snack, eat them as part of a fruit salad, add them to smoothies, or add sliced kiwi to breakfast cereal or desserts.
You can eat kiwis with or without the skin. Kiwi skin is edible and might contain many of the nutrients of kiwis, but most people do not like the taste or texture of fuzzy kiwi skin.
How Many Kiwis To Eat
You should eat at least one kiwi per day to maintain healthy vitamin C levels. For blood-sugar balancing effects, two kiwis per day seem most effective.
The Best Types Of Kiwi
We recommend adding more common green kiwis to your diet rather than golden kiwis.
While there are studies touting gold kiwi benefits and yellow kiwi benefits, these studies are usually funded by the company that produces SunGold kiwis, which are a proprietary kiwi breed. Additionally, for those suffering from age-related eye disorders, the extra carotenes in green kiwis make them a healthier choice.
If you can’t manage to eat kiwis daily, another way to get the health benefits of green kiwis is to buy a greens powder with a similar nutritional value to kiwi fruits, such as Athletic Greens.
Potential Side Effects
Side effects from eating kiwi fruit are rare, and most studies show they are well-tolerated. However, there are a couple of potential side effects to watch out for.
There are 13 potential allergens in kiwi fruits. In fact, one of the main allergens is actinidin, the digestion-promoting enzyme.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to kiwi fruits in children include:
- Oral symptoms.
- Dyspnea and wheezing.
- Facial angioedema.
- Abdominal pain and vomiting.
Eating more fruit and dietary fiber might increase the risk of digestive symptoms such as bloating and gassiness in some people. However, when used to improve constipation, studies suggest that kiwis produced fewer side effects than prunes or psyllium husk. Moreover, these symptoms will usually subside once you get used to the higher dietary fiber intake.
Nevertheless, as kiwis contain fructose, those with fructose malabsorption might experience more gut symptoms when eating kiwifruits.
The Bottom Line: Is Kiwi Healthy?
Kiwis are a fruit high in vitamin C, antioxidants, and enzymes that aid digestion.
Evidence-based kiwi benefits include improved constipation, better blood sugar balance, improved heart health, and a reduced risk of vitamin C deficiency.
The latter is one of the main kiwi benefits for males, as men are at higher risk of vitamin C deficiency than women. It might also support kiwi benefits for hair, as a lack of vitamin C is implicated in hair loss.
We recommend eating two kiwis per day, preferably prior to breakfast or another carbohydrate-heavy meal to have the best blood-sugar balancing effects.
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