December 15, 2010

Health Benefits of Kiwi Fruit

Kiwi is an exotic fruit that has a wonderful and distinct flavor. But a lot of people are not aware of this fruit because it is produced in a very few countries and thus these people are missing out on a lot!

Weirdly, Kiwi (or Actinidia deliciosa) actually originated in china and was called the Chinese gooseberry over there. Once New Zealand farmers began farming this fruit on a commercial basis, it got its current name of kiwi. This exotic fruit is also recognized as China's national fruit. It has green creamy flesh and tiny black seeds in the center. It usually has intense flavor and sweetness.
These brown little fruits are decidedly one of the richest sources of nutrients for our body. They are full of antioxidants and packed with more vitamin C than an equivalent amount of orange. They are also a good source of potassium, fiber, and a decent source of vitamin A and vitamin E. Their health benefits can be given below:
  1. Prevents asthma and other respiratory diseases: Studies in Italy performed on 18,000 6-7 year old children have demonstrated health benefits to the respiratory tract. The study found that children eating the 5-7 servings of citrus and kiwifruit per week had 44 percent less incidence of wheezing compared to children eating less than once a week. Nigh time cough was reduced by 27 percent, shortness of breath by 32 percent, runny nose by 28 percent, severe wheeze by 41 percent, and chronic cough by 25 percent. This is because of the high vitamin C content of the fruit.
  2. Fights cardiovascular diseases: Eating kiwi fruit every morning has the same effect as aspirin for heart health (reduced blood clotting), but without the side effects such as inflammation and bleeding in the intestinal tract. According to a study conducted in University of Oslo, Norway, people who ate  2 to 3 kiwi fruit per day for 28 days reduced their platelet aggregation response (potential for blood clot formation) by 18 percent and lowered their blood triglycerides by 15 percent. This prevents a build up of deposits and plaques in the arterial walls, consequently, guarding against cardiovascular diseases.
  3. Anti cancer: Kiwi contains a variety of flavonoids and carotenoids, which have demonstrated antioxidant activity. These phytonutrients are responsible for protecting your DNA from oxygen-related damage. By preventing DNA from being damaged, cancer growth is inhibited and prevented.
  4. Digestive health: Kiwis are a very good source of dietary fiber. Fiber helps keep your digestive health in check and is good for binding and removing toxins from the colon, which is helpful for preventing colon cancer. Fiber also acts to prevent constipation and other gastro-intestinal issues.
  5. Protects your eyes: Kiwi is a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, natural chemicals found in the human eye. Lutein helps to filter out damaging blue light, which helps prevent age-related macular degeneration and the development of glaucoma and cataracts. Zeaxanthin works hand in hand with lutein, contributing primarily to eye health. A study published in the June 2004 issue of the Archives of Opthamology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit (including kiwi) per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), which is the primary cause of vision loss in older adults.
  6. Manage blood pressure: It is a very rich source of healthy electrolyte potassium. Potassium plays a major role in body cells by keeping the body fluids and electrolyte in balance, which help control heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium.
  7. Good for skin: Kiwi is a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help against potential skin degeneration and work wonders for the health of the skin.
  8. Boosts immunity: Due to its extremely high vitamin C content and its complement of antioxidant compounds, kiwi has proven to be an immune booster.
  9. Fights male impotency: It contains the amino acid arginine, a well-known vasodilator that has been used to treat impotence in men.
  10. Supports healthy birth: It has four peaches' worth of folate, which is essential for women before and during pregnancy. Folate helps to develop the blood cells for the baby in the womb.
Apart from the benefits of the flesh, the skin and seeds of a kiwi also has significant nutritional benefits. The kiwifruit seed oil is high in alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. These fatty acids (essential fatty acids) cannot be produced within the body and must be acquired through diet. Studies have found that alpha-linolenic acid is related to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Kiwifruit skin is edible and contains high amounts of dietary fiber. In addition, as many of the vitamins are stored immediately under the skin, leaving the skin intact greatly increases the vitamin C consumed by eating a single piece of kiwifruit when compared to eating it peeled.

Kiwifruit are among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, which can cause health problems if they become too concentrated in body fluids. For this reason, people with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating kiwifruit. Also, people who are allergic to latex, pineapples or papayas should also avoid kiwifruit as they may very likely be allergic to kiwifruit as well.

Kiwi fruit's nutritional benefits cannot be ignored. And not to forget the taste! Looking at the above benefits, who wouldn't want to add kiwi to their diet. It is a good and tasty way of becoming healthy!

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