Kiwi is King

Kiwi fruitEat kiwi to sleep better and look better, while also protecting yourself against heart disease, high blood pressure, muscle loss, and even constipation. A lot of nutrition is packed into this little green fruit, making kiwi one of the most nutrient-dense fruits available. Kiwi is a bite of delicious sunshine during the winter months, but can be bought year round. Kiwi from California is available November through May while New Zealand kiwi is in season June through October.

Researchers at Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University found that eating two kiwis an hour before bedtime on a regular basis improved sleep quality and quantity. Those participants went from 6 hours of sleep a night to 7 hours just eating kiwi fruit for four weeks. More studies are need to replicate these results, but these sleep benefits probably stem from kiwi’s high serotonin and antioxidant levels.

Kiwis are also high in vitamin C. One large kiwi has 141% of the percent of vitamin C recommended each day – that’s more than an orange! Vitamin C is very important for our skin because it is necessary for the formation of collagen, our skin’s support system. Plus, this potent antioxidant reduces the damage caused by pollution and smoke, when eaten or applied directly to the skin. Vitamin C also promotes the absorption of vitamin E found in the seeds of kiwi fruit, and these vitamins increase the elasticity of the skin.

Kiwi is full of potassium (552mg/cup) – more than a medium banana (422mg). According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey report, fewer than 2% of US adults meet the 4,700 mg daily recommendation of potassium. Leading researchers in the field recommend up to 5,000 mg/day. These recommendations support potassium’s critical role in lowering blood pressure and risk of stroke, controlling the electrical activity of the heart, regulating acid-base balance, building muscle, and making proteins.

The high potassium content of kiwi appears to defend against the muscle loss that begins around age 30. One study reported that participants who had a potassium intake from fruits and vegetables (5,266 mg/day) averaged 3.6 pounds more of lean tissue mass than those with half that potassium intake. This amount of lean tissue is almost the amount of muscle lost over a decade in older adults. We all need to retain our muscle mass in order to stay strong and burn calories daily.

Kiwis are also loaded with vitamin K, copper, vitamin E, folate, manganese, and phytonutrients. In a study by Rutgers University, 27 of the most commonly consumed fruits were evaluated to find that ounce for ounce, kiwi ranked the most nutrient dense, meaning that it had the most nutrients for the least calories. Kiwi has so many nutrients that it is difficult to identify which ones protect us from heart disease, which ones strengthen our immune systems, and so on. Likely, it’s a combination of all these nutrients working together.

popeye should eat kiwi too copyNumerous studies have also reported that the kiwi may have a mild laxative effect and could be used as a natural dietary supplement, especially for elderly individuals experiencing constipation. Kiwi eaten on a regular basis promoted bulkier, softer and more frequent stools in studies. These findings are not surprising, given that kiwi contains as much fiber (5 g/cup) as a bowl of bran flakes. However, it’s not just the fiber alone that creates this health benefit, but fiber working in tandem with other nutrients in kiwi to cause this subtle but important laxative effect.

Take March’s Healthy Challenge and eat kiwi to improve sleep and skin health. This fruit’s powerful jewel green color contains protection from disease and health problems. Maybe Popeye should have been eating kiwi with his spinach to keep those strong arms! Let us know your favorite way to eat kiwi.