One of the most refreshing SuperFoods is the kiwi. And it’s plentiful in summer.
Kiwis came to us by way of China and then New Zealand. They were first called Chinese gooseberries but as they became more popular, New Zealanders proudly renamed the fruit after their national bird – the kiwi. Today, California provides 95 percent of the U.S. crop.
Kiwis are extremely rich in vitamin C, folate, potassium, fiber, carotenoids, polyphenols, chlorophyll, glutathione, and pectin. Interestingly, kiwis are an excellent source of vitamin E, a nutrient more commonly found in nuts and oils, which can be high in both fat and calories. Kiwis, by contrast, offer their rich nutritional bounty for only about 93 calories for two kiwis. In fact, on a calorie-per-nutrient basis, kiwis have only 3.8 calories per nutrient.
Kiwis are truly anti-oxidant superstars helping to neutralize the free radicals that damage cells, reducing inflammation and the many disease processes connected to inflammation. They offer more vitamin C per ounce than an equivalent amount in oranges. Vitamin C plays an important role in healthy human physiology, including the immune system, and may help reduce the likelihood of developing asthma, atherosclerosis, osteoarthritis and colon cancer. It’s no wonder that high consumption of the foods rich in vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes, including cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
Eating kiwis also promotes heart health by lowering triglycerides levels and reducing platelet hyperactivity, which in turn seems to play a role in the development and stability of atherosclerotic vascular plaques. The nutrients in kiwis may also promote heart health by limiting the tendency of blood to form clots. The vitamins C and E in kiwis, combined with the polyphenols, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and copper act to protect the cardiovascular system. In one study in Oslo, Norway, people who ate two or three kiwis a day for 28 days reduced their potential for clot formation by18 percent compared with those who ate no kiwis. Moreover, the kiwi eaters enjoyed a triglyceride drop of 15 percent compared with the non-kiwi eaters.
Kiwis are available in most supermarkets all year round. The most common variety is the Hayward, which has green flesh and is covered with brown fuzz. Most people don’t realize you can eat kiwis, skin and all, after rubbing off the fuzz. The skin is actually quite nutritious.
When you shop for kiwis, choose plump ones that yield slightly to the touch. Avoid those that are shriveled, moldy or have soft spots. You can easily ripen kiwis by leaving them at room temperature for a few days, or to speed up the process, put kiwis in a dry paper bag along with an apple or banana.
Here are a few ways to enjoy SuperFood superstar kiwis this summer:
- Toss diced kiwis into a green salad.
- Puree kiwis into smoothies. They’re delicious with bananas and/or blueberries and nonfat yogurt.
- Kiwi chunks make a tasty addition to a turkey or tuna salad.
- Serve kiwis with strawberries and add a dollop of yogurt and a dash of honey.
- Blend kiwis with cantaloupe or other melon and add yogurt for a creamy, chilled soup. Garnish with blueberries and mint.
- Make a relish of chopped kiwis, red onion, pineapple, and orange. Serve with grilled poultry or fish.