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The mighty kiwi

February 22, 2015


“The only thing you should do with a kiwifruit is beat it at cricket!” said a friend from Australia when I asked how to have this curious little, fuzzy brown fruit I’d bought from the neighbourhood fruit walla.

It’s one thing to import a variety of apples into an agricultural country that grows its own, but I never expected that the kiwifruit would one day become readily available in Pakistan. It’s one of the latest fruits to enter the global ‘super food’ category and despite its name might lead you to believe, it didn’t originate in New Zealand. The kiwi fruit is originally from China although it wasn’t ‘discovered’ until 50 years ago.

At first, kiwis were referred to as ‘Yang Tao’ or ‘Chinese Gooseberry,’ but the name was ultimately changed to kiwifruit because it resembled the kiwi bird. It was brought to New Zealand during World War II because it was a popular fruit of choice with American servicemen.

In Pakistan, kiwifruit costs roughly around Rs400/kg. This isn’t bad considering that you get at least 10-12 decently-sized fruits for that price, which will last you at least two to three weeks, depending on your consumption.

Why the kiwi fruit is considered the newest ‘super food’

Like strawberries, kiwi fruit is slightly tangy when unripe and sweet when ripe and ready. It’s considered an all-star super fruit because researchers at Rutgers University found that the kiwifruit has the best nutrient density compared to the 21 commonly consumed fruits.

It is considered one of the best anti-oxidants in the fruit kingdom. They are rich in bioactive compounds with an antioxidant capacity which safeguards the body against harmful free radicals.

This nutrient-packed fuzzy fruit comes to this part of the world

It has more vitamin C than an equivalent amount of orange. It also contains Vitamin K, copper, fibre, vitamin E, potassium, manganese and folate. Kiwifruit supplies your eyes with protective lutein which is a carotenoid in eye tissue that safeguards them from harmful free radicals.Kiwifruit is also high in folic acid. Which makes it an ideal fruit to be consumed during pregnancy as folic acid prevents neural tube defects.

It’s high in soluble and insoluble fibres. These are essential for regulating digestion, lowering cholesterol levels and promoting a healthy heart. Its fibre content corresponds to its low glycaemic index (52) which means that this fruit doesn’t raise blood glucose levels rapidly making it an ideal fruit for those suffering from diabetes.

How to have it

Kiwifruits are available mostly throughout the year. Select one based on your preference — the softer they are, the sweeter they will be. At the very minimum they should yield slightly when pressure is applied gently.

If you don’t have a ripe kiwifruit, don’t worry, as they can be ripened at home by keeping them in a brown paper bag for a few days away from heat or sunlight. Keep them refrigerated in a small basket separate from all other fruits or the heat from them will cause kiwifruits to ripen faster than you’d like.

The peach-like fuzz can be rubbed off before eating.

Use in salads, smoothies and desserts. It’s not suitable for desserts or foods you plan to prepare first and eat later as the fruit ‘melts’ to mush quickly. It’s best to have it fresh.

Some combinations that have worked for me are:

Juices: water, lemon, mint, honey and kiwifruit.

Smoothie: yogurt, oats, dates and kiwifruit.

Super salad: salad leaves, cucumbers, spring beans, broccoli, mushrooms and tofu pan-fried with a dash of soy sauce, olives, feta cheese and kiwifruit.

Dessert: cream, dates or strawberries and kiwifruit.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, February 22nd, 2015

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