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What part of a kiwi can you not eat?

Kiwis are a nutritious and delicious fruit that are enjoyed around the world. However, there are some parts of the kiwi that are not meant for eating. In this article, we’ll take a close look at the different parts of the kiwi and identify which parts are edible and which are not.

An Overview of the Kiwi

The kiwifruit, often shortened to just “kiwi”, is an oval-shaped berry that originates from China. The fuzzy brown exterior skin surrounds the bright green or golden flesh and small black seeds. There are a few different cultivars of kiwi including the common Hayward green kiwi and the sweeter, yellow-fleshed Gold kiwi.

The main parts of the kiwi fruit are:

  • Skin – The fuzzy, brown exterior covering
  • Flesh – The edible green or yellow interior
  • Seeds – The tiny black seeds embedded throughout the flesh
  • Core – The very center portion with the seeds

Now let’s take a closer look at each part to determine which are edible and which are not.

The Skin

The skin or peel of the kiwi is covered in small fuzz or hair. It helps protect the delicate flesh inside. The skin is not poisonous, but it is generally not eaten as it can be quite tough and unpleasant. So the kiwi skin is the first part that you should not eat.

However, there are some exceptions. The skin of a ripe kiwi is not quite as fibrous or hairy. In some cases, the skin may be very thin and tender enough to be consumed. But in general, peeling the kiwi skin with a vegetable peeler or knife is recommended before eating.

The Flesh

The flesh or pulp of the kiwi is the part that is meant to be eaten. It has a soft, tender texture when ripe. The flesh is very nutritious, packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, and potassium. It also provides fiber, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds.

The edible flesh comes in green, yellow, orange, or red hues depending on the cultivar. It has a sweet, tangy flavor. The flesh can be sliced and diced to add to fruit salads, yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, baked goods, savory dishes, and more. It’s also delicious eaten fresh right out of the skin.

The Seeds

Inside the flesh are lots of tiny black seeds. These seeds are hard and gritty, with an almost bitter taste. They contain compounds called lectins and phenols that provide pest resistance for the kiwi plant. But for humans, the seed compounds may be an irritant or downright toxic when consumed in large amounts.

For this reason, the seeds should be avoided. Some people may accidentally swallow a few small seeds while eating the kiwi flesh and this is unlikely to cause issues. However, you should not deliberately eat spoonfuls of kiwi seeds.

When preparing kiwi, you can remove the seeds by slicing the fruit and then using a spoon to scoop them out. Pureeing or processing the flesh will also break down the seeds into tiny undetectable bits.

The Core

In the very center of the kiwi is a dense core region surrounded by the seeds. You may notice its tough, fibrous texture when slicing a kiwi in half widthwise. The core allows the seeds to develop and helps support the structure of the fruit.

But like the skin and seeds, the kiwi core should not be eaten. It is too difficult to chew and digest. Simply use a spoon to scoop out the core when preparing kiwi halves or slices.

Nutrition Facts

To summarize which parts of the kiwi are edible and nutritious, here is a nutrition facts table comparing the different parts of a green kiwi:

Kiwi Part Calories Carbs Fiber Vitamin C
Skin Not recommended for eating
Flesh 61 per cup 15 grams 3 grams 167% DV
Seeds Not recommended for eating
Core Not recommended for eating

As you can see, the kiwi flesh is the only part that provides beneficial nutrition and calories. The skin, seeds, and core are inedible and provide no nutritional value.

How to Eat Kiwis

Now that you know what’s edible and what’s not when it comes to a kiwi, here are some tips for preparing and eating kiwis:

  • Wash the kiwi under cool running water to remove any dirt or residue.
  • Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to remove the brown fuzzy skin. Slice off each end first.
  • Slice the kiwi widthwise or lengthwise depending on your desired use.
  • Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and core if desired.
  • Slice or dice the green kiwi flesh as needed for recipes or to eat freshly sliced.
  • Store leftover cut kiwi in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
  • Enjoy the sweet kiwi flesh fresh or use it to top yogurt, oatmeal, salads, desserts, drinks, and more.

Avoid consuming the skin, seeds, or core which can be unpleasant to eat or potentially toxic in large amounts. The delicious flesh is the part packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Potential Side Effects

For most people, eating kiwi flesh is perfectly safe and healthy. However, there are a few potential side effects to be aware of:

  • Allergies – Some people may be allergic to kiwis. Reactions can include itching, swelling, hives, trouble breathing, and anaphylaxis.
  • Oral Allergy Syndrome – People allergic to latex, bananas, avocados, chestnuts, and other foods may get an itchy mouth and throat when eating kiwi due to similar proteins.
  • Medication Interactions – Kiwis may interact with blood thinners like warfarin and NSAID pain medications causing increased bruising or bleeding risk.
  • Digestive Upset – Some find the enzymes in raw kiwi give them stomach cramps, bloating, or diarrhea, especially with the skin on.

Discontinue eating kiwi if you have any bad reactions. See an allergist to get tested if you suspect a food allergy. Talk to your doctor about medication adjustments if needed. Some find cooked kiwi to be better tolerated.

The Bottom Line

Kiwis are a tasty, healthy fruit full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. However, the skin, seeds, and central core of a kiwi should not be eaten. Only the fleshy green or yellow inner portion of a kiwi is meant to be consumed.

Use a peeler and knife to remove the fuzzy brown skin, slice off the ends, and cut the kiwi widthwise or lengthwise. Then scoop out the core in the center with seeds. Enjoy the kiwi flesh fresh or used in smoothies, salads, yogurt, oatmeal, desserts, and more. Avoid eating the skin and seeds which can cause digestive upset.

With proper preparation, kiwis are a nutritious addition to a balanced diet. Just be sure to only eat the soft edible portion and discard the skin, seeds, and core.