From Nourishing the Intestinal Microbiota to Reducing the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Is There Anything that the Kiwifruit Can’t Do?
The fuzzy, cute kiwi not only tastes delicious but also is a nutritional powerhouse, providing health benefits that far exceed those afforded by many celebrated superfruits as strawberries, oranges, and grapefruits! Studies indicate that kiwi contains particularly high amounts of the following vitamins:
• Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
- Is an antioxidant, which destroys free radicals that cause cellular damage leading to chronic diseases such as cancer
- Supports the growth, development, and repair of tissues
- Strengthens the immune system
• Vitamin E
- Is an antioxidant
- Helps regulate gene expression
- Supports the immune system
- Widens blood vessels to prevent blood clots
• Vitamin K
- Facilitates blood clotting and wound healing
- Works with vitamin D to build bones
- Supports DNA and RNA synthesis
- Helps manufacture amino acids (methionine, cysteine, serine, glycine, and histidine)
Besides these vitamins, kiwi contains carotenoids (nutrients that give red, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables as well as some green leafy vegetables their color and that are antioxidants), flavonoids (organic compounds found in fruits and plants that act as antioxidants and possess anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-allergic properties) potassium, and fiber. The fruit’s rich nutrient content and numerous phytochemicals produce anti-inflammatory actions, making kiwi consumption a natural means by which to address many chronic diseases, some of which are discussed below.
Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease by Decreasing Cholesterol
According to the American Heart Association, approximately 100 million US adults have high cholesterol. Elevated cholesterol levels can cause plaque build-up in the arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis, and consequently induce a heart attack or stroke. Several studies report that regular kiwi consumption lowers cholesterol. The British Journal of Nutrition conducted research to evaluate the effects of regular kiwi consumption on hypercholesterolaemic (high cholesterol levels in the blood) men. During the study, these men ate 2 kiwis daily for 8 weeks, while the control group ate none. The results showed that kiwi increased HDL, or “good” cholesterol, and decreased total cholesterol. Research published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, corroborates these findings. This study included both men and women suffering with hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol and high triglycerides (fat) in the blood). After eating 2 kiwis per day for 8 weeks, the study participants’ HDL levels rose substantially, while total cholesterol declined, and vitamin C and E levels increased. Additionally, regularly eating kiwi slowed LDL oxidation, which promotes atherosclerosis. Yet another study demonstrated that kiwi consumption, 2 or 3 a day, lowered blood triglycerides and reduced platelet (blood cells that help your body form clots to stop bleeding) aggregation, which plays a key role in the biological processes that trigger atherosclerosis.
Evidently, if you suffer from high cholesterol, kiwi is a natural remedy worth trying!
Alleviates Insomnia and Restless Sleep
If you desire to sleep soundly, eat kiwi! Research demonstrates that this little, unassuming fruit is a powerful sleep aid. Taipei Medical University conducted a study involving men and women who reported various sleep disturbances and abnormalities. For 4 weeks, the study participants ate 2 kiwis one hour before bedtime, and researchers monitored their sleep patterns. As compared to the participants’ sleep quality prior to the experiment, the study subjects experienced a 35.4% decline in sleep onset latency (time required to fall asleep), a 28.9% decrease in waking time after falling asleep, a 13.4% hike in total sleep time, and a 5.41% increase in sleep efficiency (the percentage of in-bed time that you are actually asleep). These astounding results clearly illustrate that kiwi consumption drastically improves sleep. Various aspects of kiwi’s constitution can explain these positive effects. Sleep disorders, stress, and other physiological processes produce free radicals in the body. As previously noted, kiwi contains significant amounts of free-radical-killing antioxidants, vitamin E– 11% of the daily recommended intake–and vitamin C–94% of the daily recommended intake. This level of ascorbic acid is particularly impressive, as it exceeds that provided by most food, including lemons and oranges, supposed vitamin C titans! This coupled with kiwi’s caretoinoids, flavonoids, and other antioxidants may explain the fruit’s ability to enhance sleep. Moreover, kiwi contains serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in the sleep-wake cycle, and folate. Regarding the former, low serotonin levels cause insomnia; therefore, kiwi’s high serotonin content promotes sleep. Likewise, a folate deficiency can produce insomnia as well. Although many other fruits and vegetables contain this vitamin, it is destroyed when food is cooked. Kiwis, however, are consumed raw. As such, the folate remains intact, readily digested and assimilated by the body, and induces sleep.
Perhaps it is time to banish those sleeping pills and devour a few kiwis before bedtime!
Relieves Constipation and Alleviates Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Yes, you guessed it! Kiwi facilitates colon health! A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology demonstrates the fruit’s effectiveness in alleviating constipation. Study participants, healthy volunteers and constipated patients, ate kiwi twice a day, 1 subsequent to breakfast and 1 after dinner. The participants made no other dietary changes. Following 4 weeks of kiwi treatment, the constipated patients experienced statistically significant improvements in colonic transit time (the time it takes waste to travel through the colon and be expelled), nearly a 15 hour reduction, and exhibited heightened sensitivity to urges to defecate. Moreover, participants reported much greater satisfaction with bowel habits and a significant reduction in days that a laxative was employed for bowel relief. Another study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported similarly notable results. Study participants consumed kiwi for 3 weeks and experienced increased frequency and enhanced ease of elimination and improved bulkiness and softness of stool. It is no surprise that kiwi relieves constipation and facilitates bowel regularity. After all, this amazing fruit is also a prebiotic! Prebiotics are insoluble fiber that stimulate the activity and growth of the intestinal microbiota. Studies indicate that prebiotics improve intestinal functioning and bowel habits, diminishing IBS symptoms as gas, diarrhea, and constipation.
Conclusion: Packed with nutrients and low in calories, kiwi is a nutritionally-dense superfood! Whether you want to safeguard your heart, strengthen your gastrointestinal tract, or enhance your overall health, kiwi is the answer!