Kiwis are a nutritious fruit that are both tasty and good for you. Many people enjoy the sweet, tangy flavor of kiwi, but when it comes to eating them, there is some debate around whether it is better to eat the skin or peel it off. The skin of a kiwi contains a substantial amount of fiber and nutrients, leading some to argue that leaving it on provides health benefits. However, others find the fuzzy skin unappealing in texture and taste. This article will examine the pros and cons of eating kiwi with or without the skin to help you decide which is best.
One of the biggest considerations around eating kiwi skin or not is the potential difference in nutritional value. Here is a comparison of the nutrients found in kiwi skin versus kiwi flesh:
|Nutrient||Per 100g Kiwi Skin||Per 100g Kiwi Flesh|
As you can see, kiwi skin contains significantly more fiber and vitamin C than the flesh alone. It also provides more vitamin E and a small boost in vitamin K. The skin and flesh contain comparable levels of potassium. This nutritional profile suggests that leaving the skin on provides extra fiber and antioxidants.
The high fiber content of kiwi skins is one of its major advantages. The 12.7g of fiber per 100g far exceeds the 3g in the flesh alone. Fiber is important for many aspects of health:
- Improves digestive health – Fiber adds bulk to stool and helps maintain regularity.
- Aids weight loss – High fiber foods are more filling and can help control hunger and appetite.
- Regulates blood sugar – Soluble fiber slows digestion, preventing blood sugar spikes.
- Lowers cholesterol – Fiber binds to cholesterol in the gut to help remove it from the body.
- Reduces disease risk – Diets high in fiber are associated with lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
Getting adequate fiber is challenging for many people, so the boost from kiwi skins can help you meet daily targets. The recommended daily intake is 25-30g per day for adults, but most only get around 15g.
Vitamin C Benefits
Eating kiwi skin also bumps up your vitamin C intake compared to flesh alone. Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant that offers many benefits:
- Supports immune function – Vitamin C helps white blood cells function optimally to fight infection.
- Aids collagen production – Necessary for wound healing and keeping skin, bones, and connective tissue strong.
- Acts as antioxidant – Helps neutralize DNA-damaging free radicals and oxidative stress.
- Enhances iron absorption – Boosts the body’s uptake of iron from plant sources.
- Protects eye health – Vitamin C intake is linked to reduced risk of cataracts.
The recommended vitamin C intake is 75-90mg per day. Eating kiwi skin provides over 200mg per 100g, making it easy to meet and exceed this target.
Potential Downsides of Kiwi Skin
Although kiwi skin offers extra nutrition, there are some potential downsides to be aware of:
- Texture – The fuzzy exterior skin can be off-putting for some in terms of mouthfeel.
- Flavor – Kiwi skins have an assertive, bitter taste compared to the sweeter flesh.
- Pesticides – Washing does not remove all pesticide residues, which tend to accumulate in the skin.
- Oxalates – Kiwi skin contains oxalic acid, which can contribute to kidney stones in susceptible people.
For those who dislike the texture or taste, removing the skin is a matter of personal preference. However, you may want to peel kiwis if you are at high risk of kidney stones or want to limit pesticide exposures.
For people with kiwi allergies, eating the skin could potentially cause an allergic reaction. Those with known kiwi allergies should peel fruit to remove the skin entirely as a precaution.
The proteins that trigger kiwi allergies are found throughout the fruit, but may be concentrated more in the skin. Typical allergic responses include itching, swelling, and irritation in the mouth and throat. In severe cases, whole body reactions are possible.
If you experience symptoms like itching, trouble breathing, or throat tightness after eating kiwi skin, seek medical care immediately. For those with milder reactions, peeling the skin can allow you to enjoy kiwis safely.
Ways to Make Kiwi Skin More Palatable
If you want to eat kiwi skin for added nutrition but find the taste or texture off-putting, there are some tricks to make it more palatable:
- Quick pickle slices in a vinegar-based brine to reduce bitterness.
- Puree into smoothies to remove the texture issue.
- Dehydrate into fruit leathers or chips for a sweet-tart snack.
- Candied kiwi skins are a unique garnish for desserts.
Blending kiwi skin into recipes helps dilute the flavor while still providing a boost of nutrients. But if you truly dislike it, feel free to peel for personal enjoyment.
Organic Kiwi Benefits
Choosing organic kiwis when eating the skin can help minimize potential pesticide exposures. Conventionally grown kiwis tend to have higher pesticide residue levels since the fuzzy skin traps chemicals. Going organic removes this concern.
Organic kiwis did not show any detectable pesticide residues in testing, compared to over 80% of conventional kiwis having measurable amounts. While washing helps, organic is ideal for eating unpeeled.
Nutrition of Kiwi Seeds
When you eat kiwi skin, you will also ingest the tiny black seeds embedded throughout the flesh. Technically edible, many prefer to spit out seeds as they encounter them.
However, kiwi seeds are a perfectly healthy part of the fruit. They contribute extra fiber, vitamin E, omega-3 fats, and polyphenol antioxidants. Like the skin, eating kiwi seeds offers bonus nutrition.
Overall, eating kiwi skin provides extra fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, and antioxidants compared to flesh alone. However, the texture and taste are not for everyone. If you find kiwi skin unpalatable, peeling is fine to enjoy the fruit. But try leaving it on occasionally for an added nutritional boost, especially if you choose organic. Blending into smoothies can make the skin less noticeable while still providing benefits.
For most people not affected by kidney issues or allergies, eating kiwi with the skin is the healthier approach. But personal preference around texture and taste are valid if you prefer to peel. Either way, kiwis with or without their fuzzy skin are a tasty, nutritious addition to the diet.