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:
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.
- Nutrition Facts
- 2.1 Fiber
- Vitamins and Minerals
- Other Plant Compounds
- Health Benefits of Kiwifruit
- Adverse Effects
Like most other fresh fruits, kiwifruit are mainly composed of water and carbohydrates.
The table below presents the main nutrients found in kiwifruit (1):
|Vitamin A||4 µg||0%|
|Vitamin C||92.7 mg||103%|
|Vitamin D||0 µg||~|
|Vitamin E||1.46 mg||10%|
|Vitamin K||40.3 µg||34%|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||0.03 mg||2%|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.03 mg||2%|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.34 mg||2%|
|Vitamin B5 (Panthothenic acid)||0.18 mg||4%|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.06 mg||5%|
|Vitamin B12||0 µg||~|
|Aspartic acid||126 mg|
|Glutamic acid||184 mg|
|Saturated fatty acids||0.029 g|
|Monounsaturated fatty acids||0.047 g|
|Polyunsaturated fatty acids||0.287 g|
|20:5 n-3 (EPA)||0 mg|
|22:5 n-3 (DPA)||0 mg|
|22:6 n-3 (DHA)||0 mg|
Carbs are the most common nutrient found in kiwifruit, making up around 15% of the fresh weight (2).
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 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
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.
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).
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).
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
These properties may also have some health relevance.
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 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).
Overall, kiwifruit are an excellent dietary choice for those who want to improve their heart health.
Bottom Line: Kiwifruit may improve many risk factors for heart disease. The benefits may include lower blood pressure and an improved blood fat profile.
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.
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).
Eating kiwifruit may cause mouth irritation in some people.
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.
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.