An allergy isn’t just any reaction to food. “A food allergy is an inappropriate immune response to a harmless protein in a food,” explains Roxanne Oriel, a physician and assistant professor of pediatrics, allergy and immunology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
To help diagnose an allergy, doctors may use a skin prick test or a blood test that measures antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE is the alarm system that alerts certain immune cells that invaders have arrived. (By the way, hair sampling is unreliable.)
“Most people with IgE-based allergies develop symptoms within two hours of eating the food”, says Oriel. Allergic symptoms are triggered by the immune system’s response to the “foreign” protein and “can range from mild, like a few hives, to severe and potentially fatal, like anaphylaxis.”
A food challenge – watching for symptoms after a patient eats a food – is the gold standard for diagnosing a food allergy.
If you don’t have food allergies now, don’t assume this will always be true. Food allergies are more common in children than adults. While “most kids grow out of milk and egg allergies, a lot of people never grow out of peanut, tree nut, and shellfish allergies,” say Christina Ciaccio a physician and interim chief of allergy and immunology at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Food allergies can start at any age. Shellfish allergy is the most likely to strike adults.
Research published in the medical journal JAMA shows over 10% of US adults have at least one food allergy: about 26 million people. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 4% and 6% of American children are affected by food allergies. These numbers are based on a study where symptoms were reported by approximately 40,000 people.
Dr. Ciaccio notes, that ten percent of adults seems “surprisingly high”, but “food allergies in adults have been ignored for a long time… Also, just asking people about symptoms doesn’t really get a good head count. We need studies based on oral food challenges, where a patient eats a suspected food and you diagnose them based on whether or not they have allergic symptoms, ” says Oriel.
Doctors say that allergies seem to be on the rise, more common and more severe than they used to be.
If you have ever had an itchy mouth or swollen lips after eating certain fresh fruits, vegetables or nuts, you might have pollen-food allergy syndrome. “Certain proteins in plant foods have similar structures to proteins in pollen,” explains Oriel. So if you have hay fever, your immune system may mistake a food protein for a pollen protein. The reaction is usually mild and goes away on its own.
Among the most common offenders: apples, peaches, melon, carrots, tomatoes, hazelnuts, and almonds. Often the allergens that cause oral allergy syndrome are inactivated by heat. Cooked or processed, you might not have symptoms after eating these foods.
Dr. Ciaccio says, “I dump any adverse reaction to food that isn’t due to an immune response into a food intolerance category.” Some intolerances like lactose (a sugar in milk), can cause gastrointestinal distress. Sulfites in dried fruit and wine can cause life-threatening asthma-like symptoms. Histamine intolerance – linked to some fish and fermented or cured foods like cheese and wine – may lead to nausea, headaches, or flushing. In theory, any food could trigger an adverse reaction.
There is no reliable way to diagnose food intolerances. “There is no blood or skin test we can do,” says Dr. Ciaccio.
The best way to get an handle on which foods cause you problems is to do an elimination diet. Cut out all suspect foods for a couple of weeks. Reintroduce them one by one. Of course, if you suspect just one food, this is easier. “If you think that dairy is giving you reflux, pull dairy out of your diet for a couple of weeks and see if your reflux gets better, ” suggests Ciacco.
The quality of and the types of food you eat are related to your allergy risk. Your gut bacteria play a crucial role in the development and operation of the mucosal immune system in your digestive tract.
Bacteria in the gut also aids in the production of antibodies to pathogens. Friendly bacteria even train your immune system to distinguish between pathogens and non-harmful antigens, and to respond appropriately. This important function prevents your immune system from overreacting to non-harmful antigens, which is the genesis of allergies.
Leaky gut is a condition that occurs due to the development of gaps between the cells that make up the membrane lining your intestinal wall. These tiny gaps allow substances such as undigested food, bacteria, and metabolic wastes that should be confined to your digestive tract to escape into your bloodstream.
Once the integrity of your intestinal lining is compromised, and there is a steady flow of toxic substances “leaking out” into your bloodstream, your body experiences significant increases in inflammation. Besides being associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease, leaky gut can also be a contributing factor to allergies. In 2010, researchers similarly concluded that eating a junk food diet increases kids’ risk of allergies:
“Pediatrician Dr. Paolo Lionetti, of Florence University, and colleagues said children in industrialized countries who eat low-fiber, high-sugar ‘Western’ diets may reduce microbial richness — potentially contributing to a rise in allergic and inflammatory diseases in the last half-century.”
A comprehensive allergy program needs to address optimizing your diet, intestinal health, and vitamin D levels while avoiding potential triggers. This includes a focus on fermented foods, high-fiber vegetables, and minimal processed foods and sugar. If fermented foods are not a regular part of your diet, a probiotic supplement may be beneficial.
Kiwi is a delicious fruit that’s native to China and that’s grown extensively in New Zealand. These small green fruits with fuzzy brown skins are loaded with vitamins C and E, fiber, and potassium. Kiwis also have a lot of antioxidants. Their green flesh is sweet and tangy. Their small black seeds are edible, as is the fuzzy brown peel, though many prefer to peel the kiwi before eating it.
Thanks to different growing locations, kiwis can be in season year-round. They’re grown in California from November to May, and in New Zealand from June to October. Kiwi can also be found in supplement form.
The American Heart Association (AHA) encourage people to increase their potassium intake while reducing their consumption of added salt, or sodium. Potassium relaxes the blood vessels, which helps manage blood pressure, and people with low blood pressure tend to be less likely to develop cardiovascular disease. One kiwi contains about 215 mg of potassium, or nearly 5% of an adult’s daily requirement.
Kiwi’s fiber content, about 2 grams per fruit, can benefit cardiovascular health. A review published in 2017 found that people who consume high amounts of fiber have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. They also tend to have less low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). One kiwi provides 6–9% of an adult’s daily requirement of fiber. Kiwis contain a proteolytic enzyme called actinidin that can help break down protein. One study recently found that kiwi extract containing actinidin greatly enhanced the digestion of most proteins.
One kiwi weighs about 69 grams and provides 64 milligrams of vitamin C. This represents 71–85% of an adult’s daily vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient when it comes to boosting your immune system to ward off disease. One study found that kiwis may support immune function and reduce the likelihood of developing cold or flu-like illnesses. This is especially true in at-risk groups like adults over the age of 65 and young children. It’s thought that the high amount of vitamin C and antioxidants that kiwis contain can actually help treat people with asthma. One study from 2000 found that there was a beneficial effect on the lung function among those who consumed fresh fruit regularly, including kiwis. Kiwi may reduce wheezing in susceptible children.
Oxidative DNA damage is strongly linked to colon cancer and studies show that regular kiwi consumption could lower your risk of colon cancer.
Kiwi fruits provide an extra boost to our immune system. They can also help us to manage our blood pressure. A 2014 study found evidence that the bioactive substances in three kiwis a day can lower blood pressure more than one apple a day. Long term, this may also mean a lowered risk for conditions that can be caused by high blood pressure, like strokes or heart attacks. In addition to helping us manage our blood pressure, kiwis can reduce blood clotting. A study from the University of Oslo found that eating two to three kiwis a day significantly lowered the risk of blood clotting. Kiwis were found to reduce the amount of fat in the blood. Researchers said that these effects were similar to those of a daily dose of aspirin to improve heart health.
Kiwis contains folate, which is essential for cell division. During pregnancy, doctors advise women to take additional folate, as it may protect the fetus from developmental problems, such as neural tube abnormalities. One kiwi provides around 17.2 micrograms (mcg) of folate, or just over 4% of an adult’s daily requirement.
Kiwi contains vitamin K and traces of calcium and phosphorus, all of which contribute to bone health. Adequate intake of vitamin K may help prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin K also plays an important role in blood clotting. One kiwi provides 23–30% of an adult’s daily requirement of the vitamin.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss, and kiwis might help protect your eyes from it. One study found that by eating three servings of fruit a day, macular degeneration was decreased by 36 percent. Kiwis’ high levels of zeaxanthin and lutein are thought to contribute to this effect.
Eating kiwi fruit is regarded as safe for most people. The main exception is for those who are allergic. Signs of a kiwi allergy include itchy throat, swollen tongue, trouble swallowing, vomiting, and hives. Your risk for allergy to kiwi increases if you’re also allergic to hazelnuts, avocados, latex, wheat, figs, or poppy seeds.
In rare cases, kiwis could slow blood clotting, increasing bleeding. This could increase the severity of bleeding disorders. If you have a bleeding disorder or are about to have surgery, avoid eating kiwis.
How to Buy
Choose kiwi based on the skin color. Although the fruit inside a kiwi is green (or yellow), you should avoid kiwis that have a greenish hue to their skin. Instead, pick kiwis that have gold-ish or dark brown skin. The kiwis with gold skin will be slightly firmer, and ones with dark brown skin will be softer.
Kiwis are supposed to be juicy and sweet, so look for fruit that looks full, round, and full of juice. Avoid kiwi that looks shriveled or withered. Inspect kiwis for bruising, blemishes, and wrinkles. The skin of the kiwi should be uniform in color, and not have any dark spots, cuts, or bruises that indicate damage to the fruit. Also look over the fruit for wrinkles, which indicate moisture loss.
Kiwi with bruises, cuts, or blemishes is still safe to eat.
Press the fruit gently to test ripeness. Delicately press your thumb into the outside of the fruit. When the kiwi is ripe and ready to eat, the fruit will yield to your squeeze. The fruit should be firm but not mushy or overly soft. If the kiwi doesn’t give when you press it, then it’s not ripe.
Unripe kiwi will be tart and hard if you try to eat it, but it will ripen if you leave it at room temperature for a few days.
Overly soft or mushy kiwi is likely bruised, damaged, or overripe, so avoid these kiwis.
Do not purchase or eat kiwi that’s oozing juice or moldy. Mold on a kiwi may appear as a black, fuzzy green, or brown spot.
How to Store
Store kiwis on the counter to ripen them. Kiwi is one of those fruits that will continue to ripen after it’s harvested. When you buy unripe kiwi, leave them on the counter at room temperature, and they will ripen over the next three to seven days.
Transfer unripe kiwis to a paper bag to ripen them faster. Kiwi is a fruit that produces a gas called ethylene, which helps to ripen fruit at an accelerated pace. When you store kiwi in a paper bag, the bag traps the ethylene and ripens the fruit faster.
- Kiwi ripened in a bag will generally ripen twice as quickly as kiwi that’s left to ripen on the counter.
- You can also ripen other fruit faster by storing it in a paper bag with kiwi, or another ethylene-producing fruit.
- Other ethylene-producing fruits include apples, bananas, cantaloupe, grapes, honeydew, mangoes, peaches, pears, potatoes, and tomatoes.
Transfer kiwis to the refrigerator for longer storage. Once the kiwis have finished ripening, place any leftovers into the refrigerator to preserve them. Ripe kiwi will only last on the counter for a couple of days, but will keep in the refrigerator for one to two weeks.
You can also store unripe kiwi in the refrigerator for an extended period of time. When you want to eat the kiwis, place them on the counter for a few days to ripen.
Freeze ripe kiwi for extended periods. Rinse the kiwi under running water and scrub it with a brush or cloth. Pat the fruit dry. Remove the hard top and bottom stems from the fruit. Slice the kiwi into bite-sized chunks and spread them out on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer overnight. Transfer the slices to an airtight Stasher bag and return them to the freezer. Kiwi will last for up to nine months in the freezer.
How to Cook
To eat kiwi, rinse the fruit under running water and scrub it with a brush or cloth. Cut out the top and bottom stems. From there, you can peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler, or leave it on. Eat the kiwi like an apple, or cut it into chunks or slices.
Kiwis are great in smoothies, especially when paired with fruits like strawberries and bananas. To make your own smoothie recipes, wash the kiwi, peel the skin, and cut the fruit into quarters. Add the kiwi to a blender, along with other prepared fruits, milk, yogurt, orange juice, ice, or spices if desired. Blend the mixture until smooth and serve immediately.
You can use peeled chunks or slices of kiwi to top French toast, pancakes, waffles, cereal, oatmeal, and other breakfast foods. Because kiwi is so sweet and juicy, it’s good alternative to syrups.
- Make kiwi cups by cutting a ripe kiwi in half, leaving the skin on, and eating each half with a spoon.
- Make a fruit cocktail with kiwi, pineapple, mango, and strawberry chunks.
- Make a green smoothie or juice with kiwi, spinach, apple, and pear.
- Freeze slices of kiwi and eat them as a snack or dessert.
- Add diced kiwi to a salad of spinach, walnuts, dried cranberries, diced apple, and a light vinaigrette dressing.
Fresh kiwi is also an excellent addition to many desserts. Wash, peel, and slice the kiwi into thin disks. Layer the slices onto the top of your favorite desserts, such as cakes, pies, cheesecakes, ice cream, and sorbet.
Kiwi pairs well with vanilla, berry, and citrus flavored ice creams and sorbets.
Kiwi can be used in place of tomatoes in a salad, or added to any salad along with tomato and other fruit.
The Honour System/ Sharon
- 3 kiwis
- 1 lime juiced
Peel the kiwis and slice them into rounds. Place the slices on a lined baking sheet and pop into the freezer until solid – approximately 2-3 hours
Transfer the frozen kiwi slices to a food processor or high speed blender and add the fresh lime juice. Pulse the fruit until it reaches the consistency of sorbet. You will have to scrape the sides down a few times to get the right consistency.
Serve immediately or freeze. If you are freezing it will need a good 15 – 20 minute to thaw enough to eat.
Can easily be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled