Dig into the Kiwi

The curious-looking kiwi is a storehouse of nutrients


When it was first spotted in the Indian markets, the kiwifruit turned a lot of curious heads. It remotely resembled a chikoo but wasn’t quite like it. People weren’t sure of what it is and how to eat it. Slowly, as people uncovered its versatility and nutritional profile, this interesting looking fruit with a unique taste found acceptance into Indian kitchens.

Kiwifruit [also known as the Chinese Gooseberry] is imported from Italy, NewZealand or China. It is a powerhouse of nutrients and is included among the 20 superfruits by the berry doctor Paul Gross in his book, Superfruits.

Kiwi has countless health benefits

  • Like any other gooseberry, Kiwi is a rich source of vitamin C—it has twice the amount of vitamin C content than in oranges. Being an excellent antioxidant, vitamin C cleans the body of free radicals, boosts immunity and helps maintain bone health and teeth. It also boosts immunity, prevents wheezing, asthma and improves lung function. Vitamin C also helps increase the absorption of iron, making it beneficial in anaemia.
  • Kiwis are also abundant in vitamin E, another antioxidant. In fact, kiwi is the richest low-fat source of vitamin E. This adds a many points in the favour of the fruit because most good food sources of vitamin E like avocados are high in fats. Because of the high vitamin E content, kiwi helps in improving skin conditions and fertility.
  • Kiwi contains plenty of chlorophyll and lutein, potent antioxidants, which help repair DNA and prevent degeneration of body cells. The lutein along with the vitamin C helps prevent cataract and age-related macular degeneration.
  • Kiwi beats even banana when it comes to high-potssium, low-sodium content, which helps prevent cardiac arrhythmias [irregularity in the rhythm of heartbeats] and control blood pressure.
  • Kiwifruit is low in fat and calories, making it ideal for people on weight- loss regimes.
  • Kiwi has a low glycemic index and copious amounts of magnesium and hence can be had by diabetics.
  • Kiwi is abundant in dietary fibre, magnesium, folate and omega-3. Because of the folate and omega-3, it is excellent for brain development in children. The folate content also helps reduce hyperhomocysteinemia [a risk factor for coronary artery disease]. The fibre present in kiwis apart from lowering cholesterol also helps in relieving constipation.
  • It also has small amounts of vitamin A and B, calcium, phosphorus and zinc.
  • Kiwifruit can reduce the risk of platelet aggregation and helps in the reduction of plasma triglycerides, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.

How to eat kiwi

People struggle endlessly to understand how to eat kiwi. They don’t know whether to peel it, slice it or cut it lengthwise. The kiwifruit is ideally cut into half breadthwise and scooped out with a spoon like you scoop out an ice-cream from a cup. But don’t worry if you have been eating it with the skin—the fruit is completely edible inside-out. Take care to wash the skin thoroughly before you eat it, though.

The cost factor

People find kiwi costly as it costs INR27 – INR35 per piece. Now consider this. Apples cost around INR120 – INR140 per kg and you get only around four or five apples in that. This means a single apple costs about INR27 – INR32 per piece, which is in the same range as a kiwifruit.

However, the good news is that kiwis are being grown in Himachal Pradesh and Manipur, which will make them easily available in India and bring down its price.

Kiwi is the most nutrient-dense food, according to a study published in The Journal of American College of Nutrition. It has a nutrition index of 16, which means it has the highest content of the 9 nutrients that are considered essential by the Food and Drug Administration [FDA].

It beats other fruits like papaya [14], cantaloupe melon [13], strawberry [12], mango [11] and orange [11] hands down.

Kiwi cousin

When the kiwifruit first hit the Indian market almost 6 – 7 years ago, its tangy taste did not appeal to many, as they had grown accustomed to eating sweet fruits like bananas, apples and mangoes.

People also didn’t like the feel of the outer peel of kiwi and would say it looks and feels like a hairy chickoo. But the Kiwi Gold variety is changing that opinion. The kiwi gold has a yellow flesh within the outer peel, which is not hairy. The fruit is sweeter in taste as compared to its green counterpart.

Quick facts

Nutrient density: 16 [highest among 27 commonly eaten fruits]

Glycemic index: 52

Types: Kiwi green, kiwi gold and kiwi red [not yet available in India]

Weight: medium size around 50 – 60g

1 serving size: 100g of kiwifruit

Availability: All through the year; but June – March is a key period

Selection: Avoid bruised ones. Gently press a kiwi to check its firmness, buy it only if it is semi-soft

Price range: INR27 – INR35 per piece [depending on the variety and size]

2 kiwis a day will make you want to keep all other fruits at bay.

Try This Kiwi recipe

Kiwifruit sauce

Kiwi juice: 50ml
Orange juice: 100ml
Sugar: 2tsp
White wine: 10ml
Kiwifruit, finely diced: 100g
Butter: 1tsp
Salt: to taste
Pepper: to taste

Add butter to a heated saucepan. As the butter melts, add the freshly-made orange juice, followed by sugar and wine. Bring the sauce to a boil, add the kiwi juice and finely-diced kiwifruit. Immediately add salt and pepper to taste and cover the pan for a minute. Your kiwifruit sauce is ready. Used as a dressing on salads, in tarts, spread on a fruit pizza base or add it to a meat dish for a sweet and sour flavour.

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Kamna Desai
Kamna Desai, a dietician and nutritionist with 10 years of consulting experience in gyms and leading medical centres. She also conducts corporate workshops on diet and lifestyle.


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