Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Ever Tried a Kiwi?

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Eating three brown, fuzzy kiwis a day may help keep your blood pressure at healthier levels.  A study with people who had mildly elevated systolic (the upper number) blood pressure ended up with readings that were on average 3.6 millimeters of mercury lower when given three kiwi fruits a day for 8 weeks than those folks who were given an apple a day.

The study was done in Norway and was presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.  Please keep in mind that this study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The study was small (50 men and 68 women) and were on average about 55 years of age with an average blood pressure reading of 128/85.  A blood pressure reading that is less than 120/80 is considered ideal. They ate their regular diets and only added the fruits (kiwis or apples).  Their blood pressure was measured by a 24-hour ambulatory method considered to be more accurate than single readings alone.

A diet higher in fruits and vegetables has been recommended to people with high blood pressure, e.g. the DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Prevent Hypertension).  Findings from two large studies of DASH by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute showed that blood pressures were reduced with an eating plan that is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat and that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. It is rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, as well as protein and fiber.

This does not mean that kiwi fruit is the new “wonder” fruit. However, it does have to its credit that it was superior to apples in this particular study.  It also does not mean that you should eat 21 kiwis a week.  It simply states that kiwis are healthier fruits than we previously realized.  Kiwis are high in an antioxidant called lutein that may help to add to its health benefits.  Interestingly, a 177 g serving of kiwi fruit contains 522 mg of potassium while a 125 g serving of apples contains 124 mg of potassium which also may explain its  beneficial effects on blood pressure.

Try a kiwi and an apple to reach your daily goal of 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

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