History, Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Kiwi

History of Kiwi

  • Kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) is native to China, where it has been cultivated for centuries. It was originally known as “Yang Tao” or “Chinese gooseberry.”
  • The kiwifruit was introduced to New Zealand in the early 20th century when seeds were brought there from China by a missionary named Isabel Fraser. 
  • In the early 20th century, New Zealanders began calling the fruit “kiwifruit” in reference to their national bird, the kiwi, which shares a similar brown, fuzzy appearance with the fruit.
  • The commercial cultivation of kiwifruit in New Zealand started in the 1940s, with the first significant exports occurring in the 1950s. New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry experienced rapid growth in the 1970s and 1980s. 
  • The popularity of kiwifruit grew worldwide, and it began to be cultivated in various countries with suitable climates, including Italy, Chile, and the United States.
  • Today, kiwifruit is grown in numerous countries worldwide, including China, Italy, New Zealand, Chile, France, Greece, Iran, Tirkey and Japan.

Nutritional value of Kiwi

According to USDA 100 g of raw kiwis contain:

  • Calories: 61 kcal
  • Water: 83.1 grams
  • Protein: 1.14 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 14.66 grams
  • Sugars: 9.0 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 3.0 grams
  • Fat: 0.52 grams
  • Vitamin C: 92.7 mg (154% of the Daily Value or DV)
  • Vitamin K: 40.3 mcg (50% DV)
  • Folate: 25 µg (6% DV)
  • Potassium: 312 mg (9% DV)
  • Calcium: 34 mg (3% DV)
  • Magnesium: 17 mg (4% DV)
  • Phosphorus: 34 mg (3% DV)

kiwi

Graph comparing the vitamin C content of kiwifruit with other commonly consumed fruit (Richardson, 2018)

 

Health benefits of Kiwi 

Kiwifruit offers numerous health benefits for adults and children due to its rich nutrient content. 

Kiwifruit is renowned for its exceptionally high vitamin C content, which supports the immune system, helps the body absorb iron, and promotes healthy skin. Additionally, the high antioxidant content helps protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

Kiwifruit is a good source of dietary fiber, aiding in digestive health by promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. Most of the fiber content of Kiwi is found in the peel, so you can avoid peeling the skin off to get the most out of these benefits.

The potassium content in kiwifruit may help regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Its fiber content can also contribute to heart health by lowering cholesterol levels.

Kiwifruit contains enzymes like actinidin, which can aid in the digestion of proteins and may alleviate symptoms of indigestion.

Kiwifruit contains various phytonutrients, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which are beneficial for eye health.

It is relatively low in calories and a good source of fiber, making it a filling and satisfying snack that may aid in weight management.

Kiwifruit contains serotonin, which may help regulate sleep patterns and improve sleep quality.

Uses of Kiwi

Kiwifruit is a versatile fruit that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Kiwifruit is often enjoyed fresh. Depending on your preference, you can peel the skin or leave it on. Kiwi adds a sweet and tangy element to fruit salads, enhancing their flavor and texture. Pureed kiwifruit can be incorporated into salad dressings for a unique twist on vinaigrettes. Moreover, it can be diced and used in salsas to add a fresh and tangy element, often paired with ingredients like tomatoes, onions, and cilantro.

Kiwi is a popular ingredient in desserts like fruit tarts and pies. Additionally, it can be cooked down with sugar and other fruits to make jams, jellies, and preserves. Kiwifruit can be pureed and churned into sorbets aw well.

Kiwifruits contain enzymes like actinidin, which can be used as a meat tenderizer. It’s often used in marinades for meats like beef, chicken, or pork. Kiwifruit can make chutneys, served with roasted or grilled meats.

You can read more about kiwi tree: 11 Interesting Facts about Kiwifruit

References:

Richardson DP, Ansell J, Drummond LN. The nutritional and health attributes of kiwifruit: a review. Eur J Nutr. 2018 Dec;57(8):2659-2676. doi: 10.1007/s00394-018-1627-z. Epub 2018 Feb 22. PMID: 29470689; PMCID: PMC6267416.

Cornell University. Hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta, Actinidia kolomikta). Written by Gary Micsky and was retrieved from hwwff.cce.cornell.edu/content/crop-fact-sheets/hardy-kiwi.pdf

Ohio State University Extension, Kiwifruit and Hardy Kiwi (Kiwiberries), https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-1426

WorldAtlas, Top Kiwi-Fruit Producing Countries In The World, https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/top-kiwi-fruit-producing-countries-in-the-world.html

EWG’s 2023 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean-fifteen.php

OUR PARTNERS

We join forces with N.G.O.s, Universities, and other organizations globally to fulfill our common mission on sustainability and human welfare.