How do you eat your kiwi? Maybe you slice it, admiring the neon green fruit and bright white core inside. Or maybe you scoop it out with a spoon, using the thin, brown skin as nature’s little cup for the tangy fruit inside.
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But did you know that every part of the kiwifruit is edible? Like … all of it?
That’s right: If you’re so inclined, you can, in fact, bite right into a kiwi the same way you chomp on an apple — skin and all. It’s actually really good for you!
Why you should eat kiwi skins
Kiwifruit itself has all kinds of health benefits, and the skin only adds to those benefits. But first, a word about the differences in types of kiwis.
“There are about 60 species of kiwifruit, and all of them have edible skins that vary in texture and consistency,” explains registered dietitian Gillian Culbertson, RD. “The most commonly eaten versions are green and gold.”
- Green kiwifruit: The kiwi you’re probably used to eating is Actinidia deliciosa, or “fuzzy kiwifruit.” That’s the one with the bright green insides and a skin that is, as its name indicates, fuzzy. The skins are edible, but they may not necessarily appeal to you because, well … fuzz.
- Gold (or yellow) kiwifruit: The green kiwi’s lesser-known cousin is the gold kiwi, which boasts a tropical-tasting, bronze-colored fruit and skin that’s fuzz-free and smooth — which may make it more palatable for eating with the skin on. It’s up to you!
There are also different varieties of kiwis, depending on where they’re grown, which can result in slightly different tastes and nutrient makeup. Whichever kind of kiwi you choose, here are some of the benefits you can expect.
Plenty of fiber
Fiber is the part of plant foods that your body can’t digest — which, perhaps counterintuitively, actually helps keep your digestive system running smoothly. Fiber reduces bloating and helps you poop.
“Kiwis are already a good source of fiber, but if you leave the skin on, you’ll get even more of it,” Culbertson says.
Eating a whole kiwi with the skin on increases its fiber content by a whopping 50% more than if you eat it without its skin. One skin-on green kiwi has 3.5 grams of fiber, while a skin-on gold kiwi has about 3 grams of fiber.
Rich in antioxidants
Kiwi skin packs an antioxidant-filled punch: It has three times more antioxidants than the fruit itself! Antioxidants help your body fight free radicals, unstable molecules in your body that, if left unchecked, can lead to cellular damage and cause signs of aging and disease.
Antioxidants in kiwi skin include:
- Vitamin E: Leaving the skin on a gold kiwifruit increases its vitamin E content by 32%. “Vitamin E also boosts your immune system and helps your body fight off infection,” Culbertson explains.
- Vitamin C: This one is another immune booster, and the amount you’ll get from your kiwi skin depends on which kind of kiwi you’re eating. One study shows that there’s more vitamin C in gold kiwis (161 milligrams) than in green kiwis, which range from 85 mg to 150 mg of vitamin C. “Either way, eating the skin of a kiwi increases your vitamin C intake.”
- Polyphenols: These powerful antioxidants help fight inflammation in your body. Kiwis are a good source of polyphenols in general, but 30% comes from the skin.
Good source of folate
The skin of a gold kiwifruit increases your folate intake by 34%. Folate, also known as vitamin B9, helps your body turn carbohydrates into fuel (glucose) to produce energy.
“It’s critical for your liver, skin, hair and eyes, and it helps keeps your nervous system working properly,” Culbertson says. “It’s especially important that people who are pregnant because folate deficiencies can lead to complications like birth defects and anemia.”
Who shouldn’t eat kiwi skin
If you have a history of kidney stones, steer clear of kiwi skins. “They’re high in oxalates, which can increase the chance of developing kidney stones in people with a history of them,” Culbertson states.
Oxalates are natural substances found in some plant-based foods, including spinach, nuts and, yes, kiwi. They don’t have much function in the body, and they come out in urine — but some people are more sensitive to oxalates.
“They can mix with the calcium in your body, which stops it from being absorbed properly and can cause oxalate crystals to form in your kidneys and joints,” Culbertson explains. “This can lead to kidney stones or gout.”
The American Urological Association recommends that people who are prone to kidney stones avoid eating oxalate-rich foods.
Tips for eating a kiwi with the skin on
You don’t have to do anything special to eat a whole kiwi. You can just bite in! But if you’re nervous about eating the fuzzy outside of the fruit, here are some tips:
- Go gold, not green. “The skin of gold kiwis doesn’t have the same coarse hairs as their green counterparts, so they may be easier for you to tolerate,” Culbertson says.
- Scrub off the fuzz. As you wash your kiwi, use a kitchen towel or a nylon-bristled vegetable brush to lightly rub at the skin. “This will help remove some of the fuzz and make it more palatable,” she adds.
- Slice or dice it. Can’t fathom eating a kiwi the same way you eat an apple? Trick your brain by cutting the kiwi as you normally would, but leaving the skin on. Add it to a fruit salad so the texture of the skin is lost to the sweet flavors of the fruit.
- Put it in a smoothie. Add a whole kiwi to a smoothie, letting your blender do the work of breaking down the skin into small, barely-there pieces that you can sip on smoothly.
However you choose to get your kiwi fix, your body will thank you for keeping the skin on. Embrace the fuzz!