Kiwis are a nutritious fruit that are both tasty and good for you. Many people enjoy the sweet, tangy flavor of kiwi flesh but tend to peel off and discard the fuzzy brown skin. However, the skin is actually edible and contains a lot of nutrients. Eating kiwi peel can maximize the health benefits of this antioxidant-rich fruit. But is it actually a good idea to eat the fuzzy exterior of a kiwi? Here’s a detailed look at the pros and cons of eating kiwi skin.
Nutritional Benefits of Eating Kiwi Skin
The skin and flesh of kiwis contain different balances of nutrients. The peel contains higher amounts of certain beneficial plant compounds, minerals, and antioxidants than the flesh alone.
Rich in Antioxidants
Kiwi skin is extremely high in antioxidants. These help protect your cells from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. Research suggests that antioxidants play a role in preventing certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
Specific antioxidants found in kiwi skin include:
- Vitamin C: Kiwi skin contains 5 times more vitamin C than the flesh. Just 1 ounce (28 grams) provides 100% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI).
- Vitamin E: An important fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin. The skin contains 2-3 times as much vitamin E as the flesh.
- Flavonoids: Plant pigments with antioxidant effects. The main flavonoids in kiwis are catechin, epicatechin, quercetin, and rutin.
- Carotenoids: Orange or red plant pigments with antioxidant activity. Kiwi skin is especially high in beta-carotene.
High in Fiber
Fiber is important for digestive and heart health. It also helps feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome. Just 1 ounce (28 grams) of kiwi skin provides 3 grams of fiber, which is 10–15% of the RDI.
The skin contains even more fiber than the flesh. Leaving the peel on doubles the fiber content compared to peeled kiwi.
Good Source of Minerals
Several important minerals are found in higher quantities in kiwi skin than flesh:
- Calcium: Builds strong bones and teeth. Kiwi skin has 2–3 times as much calcium as the flesh.
- Magnesium: Involved in over 300 enzyme reactions in your body. The skin contains 130% more magnesium than the flesh.
- Phosphorus: Key for energy production. Kiwi skin provides 50% more phosphorus than the flesh.
- Potassium: Crucial for heart function and fluid balance. The skin has about 50% more potassium than the flesh.
Potential Downsides to Eating Kiwi Skin
Along with the nutrients, the kiwi peel contains other compounds. Some people may want to avoid eating the skin due to concern about pesticides, oxalates, and kiwi fruit allergy.
Kiwis are on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of most pesticide-contaminated fruits and veggies. The skin has greater exposure to pesticides than the flesh during growing and processing.
Washing the fruit well can help remove some of these residues. However, peeling the skin will further reduce any chemicals.
Oxalic acid and oxalates are compounds found naturally in many plant foods. Your body cannot breakdown oxalates, which bind to calcium to form crystals. High intake may increase the risk of kidney stones in susceptible people.
Kiwi skin contains significantly more oxalates than the flesh. Those prone to kidney stones may want to avoid the peel.
Oral Allergy Syndrome
Some people are allergic to kiwis. A protein called actinidin is the most common allergen.
Oral allergy syndrome is a common type of food allergy caused by raw fruits, nuts, and vegetables. It causes itching, tingling, and swelling of the lips, mouth, and throat.
Those with kiwi allergy may want to avoid the skin, as it contains higher amounts of potential allergens.
Nutrition Comparison of Kiwi Skin vs. Flesh
This table compares the nutritional contents of 1 ounce (28 grams) of kiwi skin and flesh:
DV = Daily Value, a measure of how much a nutrient contributes to your daily recommended intake
Tips for Eating Kiwi Skin
Here are some tips if you want to eat the nutritious kiwi peel:
- Wash thoroughly. Use a scrub brush if needed to remove dirt, chemicals, and fuzzy hairs.
- Cut off the stem and flower ends, as they are tough.
- Slice, dice, or blend into smoothies rather than trying to eat like an apple.
- For smoothies, peel, chop, and freeze the skin for later use.
- Start with just a small amount of skin to assess tolerance.
- Remove skin if mouth itches or tingles, which may indicate allergy.
Healthy Serving Suggestions
Here are some nutritious and delicious ways to eat kiwi skin:
- Add diced or blended skin to yogurt, oatmeal, or cottage cheese.
- Include in fruit salads, salsas, chutneys, and relishes.
- Blend into smoothies along with other fruits and veggies.
- Mix into a spinach or kale salad for added color, fiber, and nutrients.
- Make into kiwi ice pops by blending with Greek yogurt and freezing.
The Bottom Line
Kiwi skin is edible and nutritious but also high in pesticides. It contains more fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than the flesh alone. However, the fuzz and oxalate content may cause problems for some people.
The skin can be safely consumed if washed and prepared properly. If you want to eat it, start slowly and discontinue if any intolerance develops.
Overall, though, both the skin and flesh of kiwis are very healthy. By not peeling, you can maximize the nutrition and flavor of this tasty, low-calorie fruit.