Kiwi fruit, also known as Chinese gooseberry, is one of the delicious fruits with full of promising health promoting phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. This widely recognized, wonderfully unique fruit is native to the Eastern Chinese “Shaanxi” province. And for the same reason, this exotic fruit is known as the national fruit of China.
The journey of this humble gooseberry from mainland China to Oceania, and thence to across the world is quite exciting! During the early years of twentieth-century, kiwifruit seeds were carried by the missionaries to New Zealand where it has become naturalized plant. From New Zealand, it spread to all over the world and now grown on a commercial scale in Europe and as far as California.
During each season which lasts from September until November, the kiwi vine bears many oval shaped, fuzzy, brown colored fruits. Each kiwi berry measures approximately a large size hen’s egg and weighs up to 125 g. Internally; its emerald-green color flesh is soft, lush, embedded with rows of tiny, black, edible seeds. Its texture is similar to strawberry or sapodilla, and the flavor resembles a blend of strawberry and pineapple fruits.
Apart from the typical green kiwifruit variety, several other cultivars were also grown in the orchards. “Hardy kiwifruit” (A. arguta) also known as the baby kiwi, is smaller than “Fuzzy kiwifruit” (A. deliciosa). Its size is similar to that of a large grape, with smooth, edible skin. Inside, the “hardy kiwi fruit” resembles “fuzzy kiwi-fruit” in color, texture, but possess further intense flavor and sweetness. “Golden Kiwifruit,” developed by the hybrid technique by the agricultural research department in New Zealand, has a smooth, sparse hairs, bronze skin, a pointed cap at one end and distinctive golden-yellow flesh with less tart and more tropical flavor than green kiwifruit. Commercially, it commands a higher market value than conventional green kiwifruit.
Health benefits of Kiwi fruit
Kiwifruit is moderately good in calories, comparable to that of grapes. 100 g of kiwi berry holds 61 calories. Nonetheless, it has many health-benefting antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
It is a good source of soluble dietary fiber (3.8 g per 100 g of fruit OR 10% of RDA), which brand it as a good bulk laxative. The dietary fiber helps to protect the colon mucosa by decreasing exposure time to toxins as well as binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.
The fruit is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin-C; providing about 154% of the DRI (daily-recommended intake). Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals.
Kiwi fruit contains very healthy levels of vitamin-A, vitamin-E, vitamin-K and flavonoid antioxidants such as β-carotene, lutein, and xanthins. Vitamin-K has a potential role in the bone mass building by promoting osteoblastic activity in the bone. It also has established a role in Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain. Total antioxidant strength measured regarding oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of kiwifruit (gold, raw) is 1210 µmol TE/100 g.
Research studies suggest that certain chemical substances in kiwi-fruit functions as blood thinner function similar to aspirin; thus, it helps prevent clot formation inside the blood vessels and protect them from stroke and heart-attack risk.
Kiwi-fruit seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Research studies show that consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and help prevent the development of ADHD, autism, and other developmental disorders in children.
Fresh kiwi fruit is a very rich source of heart-healthy electrolyte “potassium.” 100 g contains 312 mg or 7% of daily recommended levels of this electrolyte. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure by countering malefic effects of sodium.
It also contains good amounts of minerals like manganese, iron, and magnesium. Manganese used in the human body as a co-factor for the powerful antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Magnesium is an important bone-strengthening mineral like calcium.
Selection and storage
Kiwifruit season begins by September and lasts until November. Though, they can be available most of the year; they are at their best between August until December. Only mature fruits should be harvested and handled carefully from the vine. Unripe berries feature hard, starchy, inedible and closely resemble that of sapodilla (sapote) fruit.
Place raw kiwi-fruits in a plastic bag for 4-6 days to ripen. Keeping them in a paper bag with an apple, banana or pears will help to augment ripening process.
In the stores, choose kiwi featuring intact skin, without any surface blemishes or cuts. Ripe-kiwis yield to gentle pressure when pressed with the thumb. Once ripen, they have a short shelf life and damage early if kept open at room temperature. For extended shelf-life, keep them in the refrigerator set at proper humidity.
Preparation and serving methods
Fresh, delicious, juicy kiwifruit can be eaten all alone. Wash under cold running water. Its peel is edible and nutritious. Once cut, the slices should be eaten soon as they become soggy if left open in the air.
Here are some serving tips:
Kiwifruits are so delicious that they can be eaten as they are without any seasoning/additions. Enjoy their rich, unique flavor.
Serve sliced kiwifruit and strawberries with yogurt, whose flavors naturally complementing each other.
Mixture of sliced kiwi fruit and pineapple together to make a sauce, add it to marinate chicken breast and boil. The active compound, actinidin in kiwi fruit helps tenderizing meat products.
The fruit is also employed in the preparation of New Zealand’s popular dessert, Pavlova
It is also used in the preparation of muffins, cheesecake, party-cakes, pie, juice, and jellies.