Kiwi originated in China and is also called Chinese gooseberry. It was introduced to New Zealand in 1906,where it was renamed after their national bird. A late comer in the international market,until recently,kiwi cultivation was largely confined to China,Italy,Spain,France,New Zealand and California (USA). In India,it was introduced only a few years ago and is still categorised as an exotic fruit. However,now the country has managed to successfully grow several local varieties,The fruits popularity is also increasing,owing to its unique tart taste and texture.
But unknown to many,kiwi also has several nutritional benefits. Unlike most other fruits,kiwi offers an unusual combination of health promoting substances. Extremely rich in vitamin C,a single Kiwi per day can help meet an adults daily requirement for the nutrient. Besides this,kiwi also offers several other cardio-protective nutrients including folic acid,potassium and vitamin E and carotenoids.
Kiwi is also rich in fibres,particularly pectin,a type of soluble fibre which helps in cholesterol reduction. It has significant amounts of polyphenols,chlorophyll and glutathione. All this with at only 90 calories makes it an immensely nutrient-dense food. Kiwi consumption can help boost the bodys antioxidant status as the fruit is a power-house of nutrients and substances that help neutralize free radicals,which damage the healthy cells of our body.
Kiwis have also been found to promote heart health by lowering triglyceride levels,reducing platelet aggregation and limiting tendency of blood to form clots.
In a recent study done in 2004 in Oslo,Norway,people who ate two or three kiwis per day for 28 days were found to have reduced their potential for clot formation by 18 per cent,as compared to those who ate no kiwis. Kiwi eaters also enjoyed a triglyceride drop of 15 per cent as compared to the control group. Kiwi also scores on its carotenoids (plant vitamin A) content and is a unique non-leafy green source of this group of nutrients. This group of nutrients has been associated with a decreased risk for cataracts,macular degeneration and the development of atherosclerotic plaques.
A recent randomised trial (2010) in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition showed enhanced iron absorption in women who ate Kiwi for four weeks,as compared to those who ate other fruits. Although,low in iron,kiwi has been found to increase iron absorption significantly as compared to other fruits. This could be of great significance in the Indian context,with around 70 per cent of our women being anaemic.
Being rich in fibre,kiwi is known to have work as a laxative. It has a low glycemic index,which makes it especially useful for weight watchers and diabetics.
There are two popular varieties internationally the green and the gold. The gold kiwi has a bronze coloured flesh and is slightly sweeter and higher in its vitamin C and E and carotenoid content. This variety is not easily available in India. Kiwis can be included in your diet as a power snack when added to desserts and salads or pureed into smoothies,shakes and sorbets or served with grilled fish and meat.