Kiwifruit 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

The kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) is a popular fruit named after the kiwi, the national bird of New Zealand.

Native to China, this fruit was originally known as the Chinese gooseberry.

Kiwifruit have high nutritional value and are a good source of fiber, antioxidants and several vitamins and minerals.

Studies suggest that eating kiwifruit may have a variety of health benefits, including decreased risk of heart disease, reduced constipation and improved protein digestion.

This is what kiwifruit look like:

Bowl of Kiwifruit

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The flesh of kiwifruit is green with rows of tiny black seeds. It is covered with brown, hairy skin.

The commercial production of kiwifruit started in New Zealand in the 1930s, and they are now grown throughout the world.

There are several types of kiwifruit. This article covers the most common variety, the fuzzy or green kiwifruit. Other species include the golden kiwifruit, the hardy kiwifruit and the silver vine.

Contents

  1. Nutrition Facts
  2. Carbs
  3. Vitamins and Minerals
  4. Other Plant Compounds
  5. Health Benefits of Kiwifruit
  6. Adverse Effects
  7. Summary

Nutrition Facts

Like most other fresh fruits, kiwifruit are mainly composed of water and carbohydrates.

The table below presents the main nutrients found in kiwifruit (1):

Kiwifruit - Nutrition Facts

General information
Amount
Calories61
Water83 %
Protein1.1 g
Carbs14.7 g
Sugar9 g
Fiber3 g
Fat0.5 g
Saturated0.03 g
Monounsaturated0.05 g
Polyunsaturated0.29 g
Omega-30.04 g
Omega-60.25 g
Trans fat~
Vitamins
Amount %DV
Vitamin A4 µg0%
Vitamin C92.7 mg103%
Vitamin D0 µg~
Vitamin E1.46 mg10%
Vitamin K40.3 µg34%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.03 mg2%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.03 mg2%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)0.34 mg2%
Vitamin B5 (Panthothenic acid)0.18 mg4%
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)0.06 mg5%
Vitamin B120 µg~
Folate25 µg6%
Choline7.8 mg1%
Minerals
Amount %DV
Calcium34 mg3%
Iron0.31 mg4%
Magnesium17 mg4%
Phosphorus34 mg5%
Potassium312 mg7%
Sodium3 mg0%
Zinc0.14 mg1%
Copper0.13 mg14%
Manganese0.1 mg4%
Selenium0.2 µg0%
Carbohydrates
Amount
Carbohydrate14.7 g
Fiber3 g
Sugars9 g
Sucrose0.2 g
Glucose4.1 g
Fructose4.4 g
Lactose0 g
Maltose0.2 g
Galactose0.2 g
Starch0 g
Amino Acids
Amount
Tryptophan15 mg
Threonine47 mg
Isoleucine51 mg
Leucine66 mg
Lysine61 mg
Methionine24 mg
Cysteine31 mg
Tyrosine34 mg
Valine57 mg
Arginine81 mg
Histidine27 mg
Alanine53 mg
Aspartic acid126 mg
Glutamic acid184 mg
Glycine60 mg
Proline44 mg
Serine53 mg
Fats
Amount
Saturated fatty acids0.029 g
4:00 mg
6:00 mg
8:00 mg
10:00 mg
12:00 mg
14:00 mg
16:017 mg
18:012 mg
Monounsaturated fatty acids0.047 g
16:10 mg
18:147 mg
20:10 mg
22:10 mg
Polyunsaturated fatty acids0.287 g
18:2246 mg
18:342 mg
18:40 mg
20:40 mg
20:5 n-3 (EPA)0 mg
22:5 n-3 (DPA)0 mg
22:6 n-3 (DHA)0 mg
Sterols~
Cholesterol0 mg
Phytosterols~
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Carbs

Carbs are the most common nutrient found in kiwifruit, making up around 15% of the fresh weight (2).

These carbs mainly consist of simple sugars like fructose and glucose (2, 3).

Kiwifruit score low or moderate on the glycemic index, which measures how quickly blood sugar rises after meals (4).

This means that eating kiwifruit in moderation should be safe for people with diabetes.

Bottom Line: Carbs are the main nutrient in kiwifruit. The carbs are mainly made up of sugars, such as glucose and fructose.

Fiber

Around 2–3% of the flesh of fresh kiwifruit is made up of fiber (2, 5).

This percentage includes insoluble fiber, such as lignin and hemicellulose, and soluble fiber, such as pectin (6, 7, 8).

Fiber is not digested in the gut, but some kinds (mainly soluble fiber) are fermented in the colon, where they promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.

These bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate. Short-chain fatty acids may improve colon health by cutting the risk of colon cancer and protecting against infections (9, 10, 11, 12, 13).

A diet high in fiber may also reduce the risk of constipation, heart disease and type 2 diabetes (14).

Bottom Line: Kiwifruit are a good source of fiber. They may promote digestive health by cutting the risk of colon cancer and helping to prevent constipation.

Vitamins and Minerals

Kiwi Fruit

Kiwifruit are a good source of many vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C.

The following vitamins and minerals are most abundant:

  • Vitamin C: One kiwifruit (69 g) may provide 77% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C. In fact, kiwifruit is higher in vitamin C than many citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons.
  • Vitamin K1: This vitamin promotes healthy bones and kidneys, and is essential for blood clotting.
  • Potassium: Adequate intake of this essential mineral may promote heart health (15).
  • Vitamin E: Considerable amounts of this vitamin are present in kiwifruit seeds. However, since the seeds are poorly digested, its availability may be limited (16).
  • Copper: An essential trace element, copper intake is often low in the Western diet. Copper deficiency may affect heart health (17).
  • Folate: Also known as vitamin B9 or folic acid, folate has many important functions in the body. Adequate intake of folate is especially important during pregnancy (18).

Bottom Line: Kiwifruit are a good source of many vitamins and minerals. They are especially rich in vitamin C, even more so than oranges and lemons.

Other Plant Compounds

Kiwifruit are a good source of various antioxidant plant compounds, some of which may have health benefits.

  • Quercetin: Kiwifruit contain high amounts of this polyphenol antioxidant. High quercetin intake may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer (19, 20, 21, 22).
  • Lutein: This is one of the most abundant carotenoid antioxidants found in kiwifruit. High intake of lutein may promote eye health (23, 24).
  • Actinidin: An enzyme that breaks down protein, this is one of the main allergens found in kiwifruit; however, it may also improve protein digestion (16).

Bottom Line: Kiwifruit contain a number of healthy antioxidants, including quercetin and lutein. They are also a source of actinidin, an enzyme that may improve protein digestion.

Health Benefits of Kiwifruit

Like other fruit, kiwifruit may have various health benefits.

Young Woman Holding Two Halves of Kiwifruit

Reduced Constipation

Constipation is an adverse condition characterized by bowel irregularity, hard stools, and difficulty passing stools (25).

Bowel disorders, such as constipation, are linked with poor colon health and are a major health concern, especially in elderly people (26).

Several studies indicate that kiwifruit consumption may help with constipation. This is due to their natural laxative effects (27, 28, 29, 30).

One trial in 38 elderly men and women found that eating one kiwifruit (for every 30 kg of body weight) every day for three weeks was linked with softer and more frequent bowel movements (27).

Another study in 33 patients with chronic constipation showed that eating two kiwifruit every day for two weeks significantly improved the symptoms of constipation (28).

In a study of people with irritable bowel syndrome, eating two kiwifruit every day for four weeks increased the frequency of bowel movements. However, no effects were seen in healthy participants (29).

In addition to the fiber content of kiwifruit, these effects have been suggested to be caused by actinidin, a plant compound that breaks down protein (30, 31).

Bottom Line: The natural laxative effects of kiwifruit are one of their main health properties. For this reason, they may be used as a treatment against constipation.

Improved Protein Digestion

Kiwifruit contain actinidin (also spelled actinidain), a unique plant compound that breaks down protein. In fact, it can be used to tenderize meat (31, 32).

These properties may also have some health relevance.

Test tube experiments and animal studies have shown that actinidin may improve protein digestion in the gut (33, 34, 35, 36, 37).

For this reason, eating kiwifruit may benefit people with impaired protein digestion and those who experience unpleasant feelings of fullness after eating high-protein meals.

Bottom Line: Since they contain a unique plant compound known as actinidin, eating kiwifruit may improve protein digestion.

Heart Health

Heart disease (cardiovascular disease) is the world’s most common cause of premature death.

Some of the main risk factors include high blood pressure (hypertension), poor blood fat profile and blood clots.

Several studies indicate that kiwifruit may reduce some of these risk factors.

Eating 2–3 kiwifruit per day may:

  • Lower blood pressure (38, 39).
  • Have a blood-thinning effect, reducing the risk of blood clots (39, 40).
  • Lower triglycerides in the blood, improving the blood fat profile (40).
  • Raise HDL (the “good” cholesterol) (41, 42).

However, not all studies have detected significant benefits (43, 44).

Overall, kiwifruit are an excellent dietary choice for those who want to improve their heart health.

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Bottom Line: Kiwifruit may improve many risk factors for heart disease. The benefits may include lower blood pressure and an improved blood fat profile.

Adverse Effects

Kiwi Fruit Slices

Kiwifruit are generally considered to be healthy.

However, some people may be allergic to them. Additionally, they may cause mouth irritation and an upset stomach for some individuals.

Allergy

A kiwifruit allergy is usually less severe than nut allergies. It is often characterized by diarrhea, stomach pain, mild swelling and itching in the mouth (45, 46).

However, some people may experience a more serious reaction, such as allergic shock. This is more common in children than adults.

People with allergies to latex, grass or birch pollen are more likely to be allergic to kiwifruit as well, a condition known as allergic cross-reactivity (47).

Mouth Irritation

Eating kiwifruit may cause mouth irritation in some people.

This irritation may be caused by tiny, needle-like calcium oxalate crystals (calcium oxalate raphides) and protein-digesting substances such as actinidin (48, 49).

Other fruits with similar properties include pineapple and monstera fruit (48).

Diarrhea

Being rich in unique fiber, kiwifruit has been used as a natural remedy against constipation (30).

However, some people are very sensitive to the natural laxative effects of kiwifruit, which may cause diarrhea, especially after excessive consumption.

Bottom Line: Although kiwifruit is very healthy, some individuals need to limit their consumption or avoid them altogether. Kiwifruit can cause allergies, diarrhea and unpleasant mouth irritation.

Summary

Kiwifruit are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C. They also contain a variety of healthy antioxidants and fiber.

For this reason, their consumption has been linked with a variety of health benefits, such as decreased blood pressure, improved protein digestion and lower risk of constipation.