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About Kiwifruit: Gastronomical Uses and Nutritional Value

About kiwifruit or Chinese gooseberry, as was originally called. History, gastronomical uses and nutritional value.

Long before kiwifruit appeared on supermarket shelves, this attractive climbing vine grew wild over trees and bushes throughout the forests and rocky hillsides of Asia. Its natural propagation spread from the Indian subcontinent to the Yangtze valley and as far south as Indonesia. In fact, even today kiwifruit is rarely cultivated in China and mostly harvested from wild growing plants. Westerners’ named this fruit ‘Chinese gooseberry’ because its green flesh looked similar to that of gooseberries. Kiwifruit was introduced to New Zealand in 1906 where the fruits quality was improved for commercial production. This fuzzy skinned fruit was later renamed kiwi, after a fuzzy flightless bird which is the country’s national emblem. Even more Appropriate for Marketing reasons, ‘kiwi’ is also the nickname for a New Zealander.

Looks can certainly be deceiving when it comes to the kiwifruit. For, under the brown skin of this plum shaped fruit, from the Actinidiaceae botanical family, lies a bright lime green or yellow flesh with an oblong shaped ring of tiny edible black seeds to its white core. The sweet, yet slightly tart taste of kiwifruit is often described intangibly as a cross between pineapple, strawberry, melon and banana. The skin of kiwifruit is edible and nutritious, although most prefer to peel them. This fruit can also be eaten like passion fruit or pomegranate, when fully ripe, Simply slice in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

Gastronomical Uses, Buying and Storing: In the 1980’s kiwifruit became the standard garnish for savory dishes and desserts in French nouvelle cuisine restaurants. Since then chefs and home cooks have found other ways to utilize kiwifruit aside from plate presentation. Kiwifruit is used to flavor ice-cream or sorbets and is great in fruit salads. It is excellent on cereals and is used to make sweet and sour sauces for meat, as well as dessert sauces to accompany cake, yogurt and ice cream. Because this fruit contains the enzymes bromic and actinic, its juice is used as a marinade that tenderizes meat. On the down side these enzymes also make milk curdle and will prevent gelatin from setting.

When buying kiwifruit don’t be too concerned if they are very firm. Firm fruits will ripen at room temperature in about one week. Fruits that are slightly soft can be eaten right away, but avoid those fruits with dark spots, as this is caused by bruising that spoils the fruit. If you need the fruit to ripen in a short time, place the kiwifruit in plastic bag with a ripe banana or apple. Ripe kiwifruit can be refrigerated in the crisper draw of the refrigerator.

Nutritional Content: Kiwifruit has a higher content of vitamin C than any other fruit including orange or lemon. In fact, a single kiwifruit provides the total daily requirement of vitamin C for an adult. This fruit is also a good source of magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, folate and fiber, as well as vitamins K, A and E.

Vitamin E is the name for a group of eight fat soluble compounds including alpha tocopherol. Collectively these compounds provide protection of cells against the harmful effects of free radicals. The accumulation of free radicals is thought to promote the onset of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Vitamin E is also thought to assists the bodies immune function. The primary function of Vitamin K is to promote blood clotting and stop abnormal bleeding. Research through clinical trials suggests that supplements of vitamin K2 could help prevent the reoccurrence and protect against liver cancer, although more research on the subject is needed.

Kiwifruit contains numerous plant derived antioxidants including the carotenoids, beta-carotene or vitamin A, lutein and xanthin or zeaxanthin. Carotenoids are class of plant pigments which help protect us against a variety of diseases. Lutein and xanthin, the yellow pigments which are also found in eggs and the fruits, physalis, tomatoes and the vegetable sweet potatoes, are chemo-preventative, meaning that they inhibit the growth of carcinogens. They are also believed to help repair oxidative damage to human DNA. Damage to DNA plays a major in the onset of chronic diseases like cancer. Beta-carotene helps prevent eye diseases, promotes clear vision and improves skin health. A diet rich in carotenoids helps prevent pre-mature aging and neutralizes the damaging effects of free radicals. 

Primary image credit

The most common variety of kiwifruit are the Hayward variety. Image credit.

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Comments (4)

I love kiwi

Amazing series of health stuff and their medicinal and nutrition care, thanks always for the share.

Ranked #27 in Food & Nutrition

I too love kiwi fruits...

I am going to try to grow some kiwi vines down here where I live on the Texas gulf coast.

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