Fleshing Out the Benefits
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.