Welcome to Ask A Dietitian, a series where Yahoo Canada digs into food trends and popular nutrition questions with registered dietitian Abbey Sharp.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.
Among many viral health and anti-bloating "hacks," one fruit comes out on top: the kiwi.
Kiwis are rich in antioxidants and enzymes that promote regularity and boost the body's natural detox mechanism.
Registered dietitian Abbey Sharp told Yahoo Canada she's "obsessed with kiwis."
For a tiny fruit, she said, the kiwi is "quite a little powerhouse." Read on to find out why.
What makes kiwis so beneficial to our health?
According to the dietitian, kiwis are "exceptionally rich in the antioxidants, vitamin C, which we know is very important for immune support."
Sharp added it's especially important now, as we head into "sick season," what some doctors have called a "tripledemic."
It's also rich in "a bunch of other really great antioxidants," Sharp said, including:
Vitamins K and E
Carotenoids like lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene
Polyphenol compounds like Caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid
These compounds have "really powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that can help to reduce the risk of chronic disease," she explained.
This tiny little fruit – which is quite accessible, typically, in terms of in terms of price – is quite a little powerhouse.Abbey Sharp
Studies have found a link between kiwis and heart health. One study found that having three Kiwis a day reduced blood pressure more so than folks who ate just one apple. Another found it reduced platelet aggregation, which Sharp claimed is "one of the main risk factors for heart disease."
"There's also research that kiwis can help to reduce total cholesterol and increase heart-healthy HDL cholesterol as well," the expert added.
But, what really sets kiwis apart are its benefits to gut health, due to their predominant proteolytic enzyme being actinidin.
How do kiwis help with bloating?
Sharp explained actinidin has been shown to help aid in digestion as it's got both insoluble and soluble fiber, which can help to support regularity and overall gut health.
It also does something "really unique in the food world," according to Sharp —it improves symptoms of bloating.
"This is totally evidence based," she assured.
"There was a study that compared kiwi to prunes and psyllium fiber, both of which are two of the most commonly cited foods for constipation and regularity. They found that all three, kiwi, psyllium and prunes, helped with constipation. But it was only the kiwi that actually helped to reduce symptoms of bloating."
Sharp said this is important because those who use aids to promote regularity when consuming dairy or eggs, for example, often have the unpleasant side-effect of bloating.
"It seems that the kiwi not only can reduce the constipation or improve regularity, but it also takes down that bloating as well. So that's really, really unique in the food world."
Another thing that makes them special is they're low in FODMAPs (sugars that can cause digestive distress), so "they don't irritate sensitive guts," Sharp explained.
But, Sharp also pointed out that bloating is generally normal and common, adding wellness influencers have "pathologized bloating" online.
"Don't think just because your stomach looks bigger after your meal than it did first thing in the morning... that suddenly there's clinically something wrong. There's not — that's completely normal."
How much kiwi should you be eating and how?
The dietitian recommends eating two kiwis a day to feel its full effects, based on current research.
Green and golden kiwis are both good, but how you eat them may vary.
"I eat the peel of the golden ones, because why peel if you don't have to? Why waste the fruit?" Sharp claimed. "But with the furry green ones, you obviously you don't have to eat the peel."
While there isn't a lot of research on kiwis, Sharp said with what does exist, "we do have reason to believe that this will help most people."
But, dosage and how big of a difference kiwis make to a person's health will vary based on individual factors like overall lifestyle and diet.
The dietitian said one of her favourite ways to eat kiwi to get all of its benefits is pureeing them into a smoothie. "You can add liquid, add more fruit to it if you want."
Kiwis pair best with tropical fruits like mangos, bananas or, Sharp's personal favourite, with celery juice, ginger and chia seeds.
"That combination seems to really do the trick for a lot of folks who are struggling with chronic constipation and just need a little extra support to get them moving."