What happens when you eat the skin of kiwi?

Eating kiwi fruit with the skin on has become an increasing trend in recent years. Some people enjoy the added fiber and nutrients that the skin provides, while others like the texture contrast between the fuzzy exterior and soft interior of the kiwi. However, there are still many who peel their kiwis out of habit or uncertainty about eating the skin. If you’re wondering what happens when you eat kiwi skin, read on to learn the potential benefits and downsides.

Nutritional benefits

Kiwi skins contain high amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants compared to the flesh alone. Here are some of the top nutrients found in kiwi peel:

  • Fiber – The skin contains up to 5 times more fiber than the flesh. Fiber is important for digestive health, cholesterol levels, weight management and more.
  • Vitamin C – Kiwi skin contains nearly 5 times the vitamin C content of the flesh. Vitamin C boosts immunity, acts as an antioxidant and aids collagen production.
  • Vitamin E – The peel has 2-3 times the vitamin E in the flesh. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cells from damage.
  • Folate – The skin has up to twice the folate as the interior flesh. Folate is important for cell growth and development.
  • Potassium – The skin is higher in potassium, which helps control blood pressure and heart function.

By eating the nutrient-dense peel along with the flesh, you increase the overall nutritional value of kiwifruit. Just be aware that the skin does contain more natural pesticide residues than the flesh, so thoroughly washing kiwis before eating is recommended.

Increased fiber

One of the biggest benefits of eating kiwi with skin is the significant boost in dietary fiber. Here is a comparison of the fiber content:

Serving Fiber (grams)
Kiwi flesh – 1 cup 2.6
Kiwi skin – 1 cup 13.2

As you can see, the skin alone contains over 5 times more fiber than the flesh. Fiber plays an important role in many aspects of health:

  • Improves digestive health – Fiber adds bulk to stools and may help reduce constipation.
  • Aids weight management – The increased fiber makes you feel full and satisfied.
  • Helps control blood sugar – Fiber slows the absorption of sugars after a meal.
  • Lowers cholesterol – Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol and removes it from the body.

The daily recommended intake of fiber is 25-30 grams per day for adults. Most people fall short, so eating kiwi with skin can help boost your total daily fiber intake.

Nutrient absorption

Along with fiber, kiwi skin contains other compounds like vitamin C, polyphenols and carotenoids that may help increase nutrient absorption when eaten. Here are some of the ways these nutrients can improve absorption:

  • Vitamin C – Enhances iron absorption from plant-based foods when eaten together.
  • Polyphenols – May increase absorption of vitamins and minerals by altering gut pH levels.
  • Carotenoids – Fat soluble compounds that require dietary fat for absorption. Kiwi skin provides both.

By consuming kiwi peel, you retain these nutrients that all work together to maximize nutrient uptake. This creates a synergy between the nutrients in the skin and flesh.

Digestive enzymes

Kiwi contain actinidain, a type of proteolytic enzyme that is concentrated in the skin and acts as a digestive aid. Similar to papain in papaya or bromelain in pineapple, this enzyme helps break down proteins.

When eaten, actinidain may provide the following benefits:

  • Aids digestion of proteins
  • Supports gastrointestinal health
  • Reduces bloating and aids digestion

However, there is limited research specifically on kiwi skin enzymes. But evidence does suggest proteolytic enzymes can improve protein digestion and absorption. Those with digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may benefit from leaving the skin on kiwis when eaten.

Potential downsides

For most people, eating kiwi skin is safe and provides added nutritional value. However, there are some potential drawbacks to consider:

  • Pesticide residues – Kiwi peel contains more traces of chemicals than the flesh. Be sure to wash thoroughly before eating.
  • Texture – The fuzzy exterior and bitter taste of the skin may be unappealing to some.
  • Allergies – Those with oral allergy syndrome may react to kiwi skin more than the flesh.
  • Medications – The enzymes may interact with certain medications like antacids. Check with your doctor.

If you have no allergies or medical conditions, then eating the skin in moderation should not cause problems. However, introduce it slowly at first to see how your body responds. For some, the texture and taste of kiwi peel is simply unpalatable.

Tips for eating kiwi skin

If you want to leave the skin on kiwis, here are some tips to improve the experience:

  • Wash thoroughly – Use a produce wash or gentle scrub brush under running water to remove residues.
  • Cut in half – Slice in half first before scooping out with a spoon to reduce the fuzzy texture.
  • Blend into smoothies – Mix with other fruits and greens for a nutrition and fiber boost.
  • Dehydrate into chips – Dehydrate sliced kiwi skins into plant-based chips.
  • Can the peel – Use the peeled skins, which are softer, in jams, chutneys or preserves.

Start by eating just a portion of the skin to allow your taste buds to adjust before consuming the entire peel. The nutrients and fiber in the skin make it worth incorporating when you can.

The bottom line

Eating kiwi skin provides extra fiber, vitamins, minerals and enzymes compared to consuming the flesh alone. The skin contains up to 5 times the amount of fiber, vitamin C and vitamin E than the flesh. It also provides beneficial compounds that aid digestion and nutrient absorption.

However, some may not like the texture and taste. Check with your doctor first if you have allergies or take medications. Introduce kiwi skin slowly and be sure to wash the fruit well before eating. Overall, consuming kiwi peel provides excellent nutritional benefits and is safe for most people in moderation.

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