Monday, November 15, 2010

Healthy Fruit: Kiwifruit

The kiwifruit, often shortened to kiwi in many parts of the world, is the edible berry of a cultivar group of the woody vine Actinidia deliciosa and hybrids between this and other species in the genus Actinidia. The most common cultivars of kiwifruit are oval, about the size of a large hen's egg (5–8 cm / 2–3 in long and 4.5–5.5 cm / 1¾–2 in diameter). It has a fibrous, dull brown-green skin and bright green or golden flesh with rows of tiny, black, edible seeds. The fruit has a soft texture and a unique flavour, and today is a commercial crop in several countries, mainly in Italy, New Zealand and Chile.
Also known as the Chinese gooseberry, the fruit was renamed for export marketing reasons in the 1950s; briefly to melonette, and then later by New Zealand exporters to kiwifruit. This name "kiwifruit" comes from the kiwi — a brown flightless bird and New Zealand's national symbol, and also a colloquial name for the New Zealand people.
The importer in the US, Ziel & Co in San Francisco suggested that the old name of Chinese Gooseberry was unsuitable, recommending instead a short, Maori name. Jack Turner initiated the name "kiwifruit" around 1962 as part of Turners & Growers marketing response to this feedback and the name became a global brand.
This fruit had a long history before it was commercialized as kiwifruit and therefore had many other older names.
In Chinese: Macaque peach: the most common name, Macaque pear, Vine pear, Sunny peach: a name originally referring to the Kiwifruit, but often refers to the starfruit, Wood berry, Hairy bush fruit, Unusual fruit or wonder fruit: the most common name in Taiwan and Hong Kong. A quasi-transliteration of "kiwifruit", literally "strange fruit".
Actinidia deliciosa is native to Southern China. Originally known as Yang Tao, it is declared as the "National Fruit" of the People's Republic of China. Other species of Actinidia are also found in India and Japan and north into southeastern Siberia. Cultivation spread from China in the early 20th century, when seeds were introduced to New Zealand by Mary Isabel Fraser, the principal of Wanganui Girls' College, who had been visiting mission schools in Yichang, China. The seeds were planted in 1906 by a Wanganui nurseryman, Alexander Allison, with the vines first fruiting in 1910.
The familiar cultivar Actinidia deliciosa 'Hayward' was developed by Hayward Wright in Avondale, New Zealand around 1924. It was initially grown in domestic gardens, but commercial planting began in the 1940s. Italy is now the leading producer of kiwifruit in the world, followed by New Zealand, Chile, France, Greece, Japan and the United States. In China, kiwifruit was traditionally collected from the wild, but until recently China was not a major producing country. In China, it is grown mainly in the mountainous area upstream of the Yangtze River. It is also grown in other areas of China, including Sichuan.
Gold Kiwifruit, "Hinabelle" or Zespri, with yellow flesh and a sweeter, less acidic flavor resembling a tropical fruit salad, is a new cultivar group produced by the New Zealand Crown Research Institute, Plant & Food Research and marketed worldwide in increasing volumes. Some wild vines in India, having small yellow fruit, have not been commercially exploited, but are now being successfully cultivated in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
Seeds from these plants were imported to New Zealand in 1987 and the company took 11 years to develop the new fruit through cross-pollination and grafting with green kiwifruit vines. Zespri have a smooth, bronze skin, a pointed cap at one end and distinctive golden yellow flesh with a less tart and more tropical flavor than green kiwifruit. It has a higher market price than green kiwifruit. It is less hairy than the green cultivars, so can be eaten whole after rubbing off the thin, fluffy coat. While the skin of kiwifruit is often removed before serving, it is completely edible.
Kiwifruit is a rich source of vitamin C, 1.5 times the DRI scale in the US. Its potassium content by weight is slightly less than that of a banana. It also contains vitamin E, and a small amount of vitamin A. The skin is a good source of flavonoid antioxidants. The kiwifruit seed oil contains on average 62% alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. Usually a medium size kiwifruit contains about 46 calories, 0.3 g fats, 1 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 75 mg vitamins and 2.6 g dietary fiber. Kiwifruit is often reported to have mild laxative effects, due to the high level of dietary fiber.
Raw kiwifruit is also rich in the protein-dissolving enzyme actinidin, (in the same family of thiol proteases as papain), which is commercially useful as a meat tenderizer but can be an allergen for some individuals. Specifically, people allergic to latex, papayas or pineapples are likely to also be allergic to kiwifruit. The fruit also contains calcium oxalate crystals in the form of raphides. Reactions to these chemicals include sweating, tingling and sore mouth or throat; swelling of the lips, tongue and face; rash; vomiting and abdominal pain, heartburn; and, in the most severe cases, breathing difficulties, wheezing and collapse. The most common symptoms are unpleasant itching and soreness of the mouth, with the most common severe symptom being wheezing. Severe symptoms are most likely to occur in young children.
Actinidin also makes raw kiwifruit unsuitable for use in desserts containing milk or any other dairy products which are not going to be served within hours, because the enzyme soon begins to digest milk proteins. This applies to gelatin-based desserts as well, as the actinidin will dissolve the collagen proteins in gelatin very quickly, either liquifying the dessert, or preventing it from solidifying. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests that cooking the fruit for a few minutes before adding it to the gelatin will overcome this effect. Sliced kiwifruit has long been regularly used as a garnish atop whipped cream on New Zealand's national dessert, the pavlova. It can also be used in curry.
Kiwifruit components, possibly involving vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids from its numerous edible seeds, have potential properties of a natural blood thinner. A study performed at the University of Oslo in Norway revealed that—similar to popular mainstream aspirin therapy—consuming two to three kiwifruit daily for 28 days significantly reduced platelet aggregation and blood triglyceride levels, potentially reducing the risk of blood clots.
The kiwifruit skin is edible and contains high amounts of dietary fiber. In a fully matured kiwifruit one study showed that this as much as tripled the fiber content of the fruit. In addition, as many of the vitamins are stored immediately under the skin, leaving the skin intact greatly increases the vitamin C consumed by eating a single piece of kiwifruit when compared to eating it peeled. As with all fruit, it is recommended that if eating the skin, the fruit be washed prior to consumption. Kiwifruit is a natural source of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Kiwifruit, fresh, raw : Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 255 kJ (61 kcal) | Carbohydrates 14.66 g
Sugars 8.99 g | Dietary fiber 3.0 g | Fat 0.52 g
Protein 1.14 g | - lutein and zeaxanthin 122 μg
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.027 mg (2%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.025 mg (2%)
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.341 mg (2%) | Vitamin B6 0.63 mg (48%)
Folate (Vit. B9) 25 μg (6%) | Vitamin C 92.7 mg (155%)
Vitamin E 1.5 mg (10%) | Vitamin K 40.3 μg (38%)
Calcium 34 mg (3%) | Iron 0.31 mg (2%)
Magnesium 17 mg (5%) | Manganese 0.098 mg
Phosphorus 34 mg (5%) | Potassium 312 mg (7%)
Sodium 3 mg (0%) | Zinc 0.14 mg (1%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database

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