Kiwi fruit, also known as Chinese gooseberry, is one of the delicious fruits with full of promising health promoting phyto-chemicals, vitamins and minerals. This widely recognized, wonderfully unique fruit is native to eastern Chinese "Shaanxi" province. And for the same reason, this exotic fruit is recognized as the national fruit of China.
Kiwifruit plant is a semitropical, deciduous, large woody vine belonging within the family of Actinidiaceae in the Genus, Actinidia. Scieintific name: Actinidia chinensis.
|Kiwifruit-Actinidia chinensis. Note for fuzzy, brown outer surface.||Kiwifruit sections. Note tiny black color seeds arranged in circular fashion. Its internal pulp is juicy and has emerald green color.|
The journey of this humble gooseberry from mainland China to Oceania, and thence to across the world is quite interesting! During early years of twentieth-century kiwifruit seeds were carried to New Zealand by missionaries where it has become naturalized. From New Zealand, the fruit spread all across the world, and now grown at a commercial scale in many European and as far as in California in North America.
During each season which lasts from September until November, the kiwi vine bears numerous 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 flesh is soft, juicy, emerald green with rows of tiny, black, edible seeds. Fruit texture is similar to strawberry or sapodilla, and the flavor resembles a blend of strawberry and pineapple fruits.
Apart from the common green kiwifruit variety, several other cultivars have been in practice. "Hardy kiwi fruit" (A.arguta) also known as baby kiwi, is much smaller than "Fuzzy kiwi fruit" (A. deliciosa). Its size is similar to that of a large grape, with smooth, edible skin. Inside, "hardy kiwi fruit" resembles "fuzzy kiwi-fruit" in color, texture, but possess further intense flavor and sweetness. "Gold Kiwifruit," developed by hybrid technique by 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 common green kiwifruit.
Kiwifruit is moderately good in calories, comparable to that of grapes. 100 g of kiwi berry holds 61 calories. Nonetheless, it has several health giving anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins and fiber.
It is 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 fiber content helps to protect the colon mucousa 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 good levels of vitamin-A, vitamin-E, vitamin-K and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein and xanthin. Vitamin K has a potential role in the bone mass buiding by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bone. It also has established role in Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain. Total antioxidant strength measured in terms of 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 is used in the body as a co-factor for the powerful antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Magnesium is an important bone-strengthening mineral like calcium.
Kiwifruit season begins by September and lasts until November. Though, they can be available throughout most of the year, they are at their best between August until December. 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.
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 inside the refrigerator set at appropriate humidity.
Fresh, delicious, succulent 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 kiwi fruit and strawberries with yogurt, whose flavors naturally complementing with each other.
Mixture of sliced kiwi-fruit and pineapple together to make 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, Pavloa.
It is also used in the preparation of muffins, cheesecake, party-cakes, pie, juice, and jellies.
Allergic reactions to kiwifruit are rare. They can be safely consumed by pregnant mothers and children. (Medical disclaimer).
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