Nov 292011
 

kiwi nutritionThe Kiwifruit

 

The nutritious kiwifruit is one of my favorite fruit staples.  Beneath that hairy bown exterior lies fruit that has a soft texture and a sweet but unique flavor.  The almost emerald green flesh of the kiwi is both sweet and tart, surrounded by tiny seeds reminiscent of strawberries, with a creamy soft ivory center, similar to bananas.  What could be bad?  It is a stand alone fruit, high in nutrition, very tempting as a delicious dessert tart and also works well in savory dishes as they complement many flavors.

 

One of my other favorite things about the kiwi is that it is almost always available since it’s imported.  Named after the kiwi bird in New Zealand, and also a name used for their people, most are imported from there or from California.  So for those times when it seems to be in between “fruit” seasons, I always reach for kiwifruit.

 

What is the nutrition in a Kiwi?

 

One medium-sized kiwi weighs in at about 45 calories, has almost 1 gram of protein, 11.3 grams of carbohydrate, 2.6 grams of fiber, 0.3 grams of fat, and are cholesterol and sodium free. Notable is that the small amount of oil from the seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid and omega-3 fatty acid, and make it a potential blood thinner, as well as providing health benefits.

 

What are the health benefits of the Kiwi?

 

Kiwi fruits are rich in many vitamins, flavonoids and minerals. In particular, they contain a high amount of Vitamin C (more than oranges), as much potassium as bananas and a good amount of beta-carotene. They are also a good source of Vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and copper, all of which may function individually or in concert to protect the blood vessels and heart.

The high content in dietary fiber helps to improve diseases such as diabetes by controlling sugar levels, and colon cancer, since fiber binds to toxic compounds in the colon and helps us expel them.

This just in–While the apple is touted as being the fruit to keep the doctor away, a recent study put kiwifruit on the top of the list to help lower and maintain blood pressure.  This is due to the fact that kiwis contain lutein, a carotenoid and antioxidant that can also be found in a number of other foods such as dark green vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens) and egg yolks. Not only can it help lower blood pressure, but it has been found to also help prevent clogged arteries.

How do I eat a Kiwi?

The most common method is by peeling it.  Cut off both ends, stand it upright, and using a sharp paring knife, peel down the sides.  Slice and serve. It can also be cut in half and spooned out; or if you are adventurous, you can brush off the hairy part and enjoy it whole, similar to a bosc pear.  If you have a nicely peeled firm fruit, an egg-slicer can be used to slice peeled kiwifruit into uniform slices for recipes or as a colorful garnish.

Kiwifruits should not be eaten too long after cutting since they contain enzymes that act as a food tenderizer, with the ability to further tenderize the kiwifruit itself and make it overly soft. Consequently, if you are adding kiwifruit to fruit salad, you should do so at the last minute.

How to select and store a kiwifruit?

 

Select kiwifruits that are unblemished and firm, but not rock hard. The flesh should yield to gentle pressure, similar to that of a ripe peach. Avoid any that are shriveled or have soft spots. You can easily ripen kiwifruit by leaving them at room temperature for a few days or to speed up the process, put the kiwifruit in a dry paper bag along with an apple or banana.

 

kiwi-couscous saladWays to use Kiwis:

 

  • Blend kiwifruit with cantaloupe to make a quick chilled soup.  Add yogurt for a creamier consistency.
  • Make a delicious and healthy jam by blending kiwis, lemon juice, pineapple juice, apples, and a little sugar! Use as a spread or topping.
  • Try it as a tropical salsa by combining kiwi with mango, peppers, honey, limejuice and cilantro.  Use as a dip with chips or to top grilled fish or chicken.
  • If you have a fruit that is overripe, use it as a meat tenderizer for pork or beef.  Just cut in half and rub over the meat.  Let stand for 15-20 minutes.
  • Kiwifruit have a wonderful flavor and appearance for use in fruit tarts.

Check out this week’s recipe using this colorful kiwifruit salad.

*There is one warning however on this delicious fruit–it can be an allergen for some people, especially those allergic to latex, papaya, and pineapple.

 

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