Flesh­ing Out the Ben­e­fits

Natural Solutions - - Food Matters -

Be­yond be­ing de­li­cious—and a great al­ter­na­tive when you’re seek­ing a sweet treat that sup­ports your waist­line— ki­wifruit can boost the body from head to toe. Here’s how.

PRO­TECTS DNA: It’s nat­u­ral for DNA to be­come dam­aged over time, and our bod­ies have mech­a­nisms ca­pa­ble of re­pair­ing much of this dam­age as we age. How­ever, when DNA fails to be re­paired—when the dam­age is too com­plex for the body to fix—the body be­comes more at risk for con­di­tions such as cancer, brain dis­eases, heart fail­ure, and in­fec­tions.

DNA is dam­aged as a re­sult of ox­ida­tive stress—when cer­tain mol­e­cules in­crease rapidly dur­ing pe­ri­ods of high en­vi­ron­men­tal stress and the body is un­able to re­store the bal­ance. While re­searchers have found that ki­wifruit can pro­tect against the dam­age caused by ox­ida­tive stress, they still spec­u­late as to how it does so. Some be­lieve the carotenoids and flavonoids in the fruit’s skin pro­duce this pro­tec­tive ef­fect; oth­ers credit vi­ta­min C, a po­tent an­tiox­i­dant that neu­tral­izes free rad­i­cals to pre­vent in­flam­ma­tion. One study pub­lished in Nu­tri­tion and Cancer found ki­wifruit ef­fec­tive in de­creas­ing ox­ida­tive DNA dam­age and pro­tect­ing DNA over­all; the re­searchers noted sig­nif­i­cant an­tiox­i­dant ac­tiv­ity within kiwi that was at­trib­uted not only to its vi­ta­min C con­tent, but also to a sim­ple ex­tract of the fruit, sug­gest­ing that all com­po­nents of the ki­wifruit com­bined con­trib­ute to this pro­tec­tive ef­fect.

RE­DUCES RISK FOR VI­SION PROB­LEMS: In par­tic­u­lar, ki­wifruit has been shown to re­duce the risk of mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion, a chronic eye dis­ease that re­sults in vi­sion loss. Re­searchers be­lieve kiwi’s nat­u­rally rich source of two phy­tonu­tri­ents—lutein and zeax­an­thin—may pro­tect against this dis­ease.

A study from Har­vard Med­i­cal School and Brigham and Women’s Hos­pi­tal dis­cov­ered an in­verse re­la­tion­ship be­tween fruit con­sump­tion and mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion; i.e., those who ate the most fruit had a lower risk of de­vel­op­ing the con­di­tion than those who didn’t eat fruit. Fur­ther­more, the sub­jects who ate at least three serv­ings of fruit daily seemed to have the low­est risk. In ad­di­tion to kiwi, good fruit­based sources of lutein and zeax­an­thin in­clude rasp­ber­ries, black­ber­ries, blue­ber­ries, straw­ber­ries, unsweet­ened or­ange and tan­ger­ine juice, pa­paya, peaches, and grapes.

MIT­I­GATES ASTHMA SYMP­TOMS: Wheez­ing, in par­tic­u­lar, may sub­side with just one to two serv­ings of ki­wifruit per week, ac­cord­ing to re­search pub­lished in the jour­nal Tho­rax. We can thank vi­ta­min C for this: One serv­ing of kiwi con­tains 273 per­cent of the vi­ta­min’s rec­om­mended daily value.

HELPS HEART HEALTH: Sim­i­lar to aspirin, ki­wifruit can re­duce the risk for blood clots and lower the amount of triglyc­erides in the blood; how­ever, un­like aspirin, the fruit doesn’t carry po­ten­tial side ef­fects such as gas­troin­testi­nal bleed­ing or in­flam­ma­tion. Re­searchers from the Univer­sity of Oslo in Nor­way found that those who ate one or two serv­ings of kiwi each day for a month had a re­duced risk of blood clots as well as a 15 per­cent re­duc­tion in triglyc­eride lev­els.

The fruit’s fiber and potassium con­tent may be part of the rea­son for this pro­tec­tive ef­fect on the car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem. In a large Har­vard study, high fiber in­take was as­so­ci­ated with a 40 per­cent lower risk of coronary heart dis­ease. Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion, potassium is es­sen­tial to the body’s growth, main­te­nance, and fluid bal­ance—and foods high in potassium may help lower blood pres­sure.

IM­PROVES DI­GES­TION: About 5 grams of gut-healthy fiber can be found in one serv­ing of ki­wifruit. The in­sol­u­ble kind, found in the seeds and skin, has a lax­a­tive ef­fect to im­prove bowel func­tion: A study pub­lished in the World Jour­nal of Gas­troen­terol­ogy found that in­creas­ing di­etary fiber us­ing ki­wifruit was ef­fec­tive in re­liev­ing chronic con­sti­pa­tion. Those di­ag­nosed with ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome (IBS)—char­ac­ter­ized by ab­dom­i­nal pain, di­ar­rhea, con­sti­pa­tion, and al­ter­nat­ing di­ar­rhea and con­sti­pa­tion—can ben­e­fit from kiwi con­sump­tion as well. One study pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal Nu­tri­tion found that reg­u­lar ki­wifruit in­take for four weeks short­ened colon tran­sit time, in­creased the fre­quency of bowel move­ment, and im­proved over­all bowel func­tion in those di­ag­nosed with IBS.

SUP­PORTS SU­PER SLEEP: When it comes to qual­ity vs. quan­tity, kiwi con­sump­tion may mean you don’t need to choose—at least when bed­time rolls around. A study from Tai­wan’s Taipei Med­i­cal Univer­sity linked daily kiwi in­take to sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments in both cat­e­gories, likely due to the fruit’s high lev­els of an­tiox­i­dants and sero­tonin. Most no­tably, re­searchers found that peo­ple not only fell asleep more quickly and slept more soundly, but also felt im­proved sleep qual­ity (by 42 per­cent!) and ex­pe­ri­enced an in­crease in the time spent ac­tu­ally asleep.

Dis­rupted sleep is as­so­ci­ated with many neg­a­tive con­se­quences—ev­ery­thing from mood disor­ders to stress lev­els to poor eating habits—so con­sider a ki­wifruit as your bed­time snack to help you slip into sweet dreams. Want to add more of this su­per­fruit into your daily rou­tine? Blend it into your morn­ing smoothie or top your lunchtime salad; mix it into home­made jelly or make fruit kabobs for din­ner. Get ex­tra cre­ative by in­clud­ing it in your beauty reg­i­men: Place kiwi slices un­der eyes to lighten dark cir­cles in the a.m., or treat your cheeks in the p.m.—the fruit’s vi­ta­min C acts as a nat­u­ral as­trin­gent to help minimize pores.

For more ideas, search “kiwi” at nat­u­ral­so­lu­tion­s­mag.com. How­ever you do it, go crazy for kiwi—your body will thank you from the in­side out.

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