Can you eat a full kiwi?


The kiwi fruit is a small, brown, hairy fruit native to China. Many people enjoy eating kiwi, but some wonder if you can or should eat the fuzzy brown skin. In this article, we’ll explore whether it’s safe and beneficial to eat a whole kiwi, skin and all.

A Brief History of Kiwifruit

The kiwifruit originated in the Yangtze River valley of northern China and was known as the Chinese gooseberry. It has been cultivated there for centuries, valued for its taste, texture, and nutritional benefits. In the early 20th century, seeds were brought from China to New Zealand, where the fruit was renamed “kiwifruit” after the native flightless bird. New Zealanders began exporting kiwifruit in the 1950s, and today Italy, New Zealand, Chile, France, Greece, and the United States lead global production.

Nutritional Benefits of Kiwifruit

Kiwifruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, and potassium. One cup of kiwi provides 273% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which supports immune function and collagen production. Kiwifruit is also a good source of antioxidants, especially carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients support eye health and may help prevent age-related macular degeneration.

Eating the skin triples the fiber content compared to eating just the flesh. The skin contains insoluble fiber like cellulose and pectin that helps promote digestive regularity. The flesh of kiwifruit also contains actinidain, an enzyme that helps digest protein.

Nutrient 1 cup flesh (slices) 1 cup whole kiwi
Calories 108 117
Carbs 26g 28g
Fiber 3g 9g
Vitamin C 273% DV 351% DV

As shown in the table, eating the whole fruit significantly boosts the fiber and vitamin C content compared to just eating the flesh. The skin contains much of the fruit’s beneficial fiber and vitamin C.

Is Kiwifruit Skin Safe to Eat?

Kiwifruit skin is entirely edible and safe to consume. The hairy brown peel is a thin outer skin covered in tiny hair-like fibers. Both the outer skin and inner bright green flesh are eaten.

When ripe, the skin is soft and thin. The hair-like fuzz is not sharp or dangerous to eat. Some people may have an allergic reaction to the tiny hairs, so you should stop eating it if your mouth feels irritated. For most people, the hairy texture is harmless going down and may offer extra fiber.

The skin does contain higher levels of pesticide residue compared to the flesh. Washing the fruit helps remove some external pesticide and chemical contaminants. If you are trying to avoid pesticides, you can stick to just eating the inner flesh. Organic kiwifruit will have lower pesticide levels overall.

Tips for Eating Kiwi Skin

Here are some tips for including kiwi skin as part of a tasty, nutritious snack:

– Wash thoroughly under running water to remove dirt and some pesticide residue.

– Eat only ripe, soft kiwis with tender skin. Underripe kiwi skin can be unpleasantly tough.

– Cut a ripe kiwi in half and scoop out the insides with a spoon, discarding the ends where the hairy skin is thickest.

– Put kiwi halves on a plate and use a small paring knife to slice off the green flesh, leaving just the tender skin.

– Chop up strips of kiwi skin to add to yogurt, oatmeal, cottage cheese, or fruit salads. The skin adds fiber, vitamin C, and texture.

– Blend whole kiwis into smoothies, leaving the skin on for added nutrition. The hairy texture blends into the drink.

– Dehydrate sliced kiwi skins into fruit leathers or chewy snacks. The natural sugars concentrate, creating a tangy treat.

Potential Benefits of Eating Kiwi Skin

Here are some of the evidence-based benefits associated with consuming kiwifruit skin:

– **Higher fiber content:** Eating the fuzzy peel triples the amount of fiber compared to flesh alone. The insoluble fiber in the skin promotes digestive and gut health.

– **More antioxidants:** The skin contains more flavonoid antioxidants like quercetin and glutathione, which may reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

– **Added vitamin C:** Leaving the skin on provides more than twice as much vitamin C as the flesh alone. Vitamin C supports immunity and collagen formation.

– **Increased carotenoids:** Brightly colored carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin concentrate in the skin. These compounds support eye health and reduce UV damage.

– **Extra enzymes:** Compounds in the skin like actinidain help break down and digest proteins. This may aid digestion, especially of meat and dairy products.

– **Skin hydration:** Kiwifruit skin is rich in collagen. Some beauty enthusiasts claim rubbing kiwi skins on your face hydrates skin and reduces wrinkles due to the high vitamin C content.

Overall, nutritional data shows kiwifruit skin is very healthy to eat. The added fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes make the case for consuming the whole fruit.

Potential Drawbacks of Eating the Skin

While kiwi skin is nutritious and safe for most people, there are a few potential downsides:

– **Pesticide residue:** Kiwi peel contains more traces of pesticides compared to the flesh. Washing can help reduce residues.

– **Texture:** The fuzzy, hairy texture can be off-putting for some people. Individual preferences vary.

– **Allergies:** In rare cases, people may be allergic to the tiny hairs on kiwi skins. Discontinue eating if irritation occurs.

– **Oxalates:** Kiwi contains moderate amounts of oxalates. Those with a history of kidney stones or gout may want to avoid the skin which is higher in oxalates.

– **Flavor:** The skin has a more astringent, bitter taste compared to the sweet, aromatic flesh. Ripe kiwis have milder skin flavor.

While these factors may discourage some people from eating kiwifruit whole, they do not outweigh the overall nutritional benefits for most individuals. Washing the fruit and eating only ripe skins can help minimize potential drawbacks.


Kiwifruit skin is entirely edible and loaded with extra fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients. For most people, eating the fuzzy peel poses no safety or digestive issues. In fact, consuming the skin may provide significant nutritional and health advantages.

The skin does contain more pesticide residue than the flesh, however. So washing kiwis thoroughly before eating is recommended. Those with kidney issues or uncommon allergies should exercise caution with the skin. For optimal nutrition and experience, choose ripe, soft kiwis and include the tender skins along with the sweet, bright flesh.


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Kou, X., Gao, X., Xue, Z., Zhang, L., Wang, H., Ou, S. (2019). Nutritional composition and health functions of kiwifruit. Food Science and Human Wellness, 8(3), 173-181.

Liu, Y., Song, X., Han, Y., Pan, Y., Li, J., Zhu, N. (2019). Chemical composition of kiwifruit and their protective effects on glucose homeostasis and gut microbiota in mice. Food & Function, 10(3), 1344-1357. https://doi:10.1039/c8fo02067d

Montoya, C.A., Hindmarsh, J.P., Gonzalez, L., Boland, M.J., Moughan, P.J., Rutherfurd, S.M. (2014). Dietary actinidin from kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa cv. Hayward) increases gastric digestion and the gastric emptying rate of several dietary proteins in growing rats. Journal of Nutrition, 144(4), 440-446. https://doi: 10.3945/jn.113.188441

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