Can you eat the hairy skin of a kiwi?

Eating kiwi fruit is a delicious way to add vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber to your diet. But what about eating the fuzzy brown peel? Is it safe or healthy to eat kiwi skin?

Quick Answer

Yes, the skin or peel of a kiwi fruit is completely edible. While many people prefer to peel kiwis before eating them, the skin contains nutrients and fiber that make it nutritious to eat. The kiwi peel is safe to consume for most people, as long as the kiwi is washed properly beforehand.

Nutritional Benefits of Eating Kiwi Skin

Here are some of the top nutrients found in kiwi peel:

  • Fiber – Kiwi peel contains high amounts of fiber. The skin alone provides around 23% of the recommended daily intake of fiber.
  • Vitamin C – Kiwi peel contains vitamin C, an essential nutrient with antioxidant properties. Eating the skin doubles the vitamin C content compared to just the flesh.
  • Vitamin E – The peel provides small amounts of vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant.
  • Folate – Kiwi peel offers around 7% of the RDI of folate, a B vitamin that supports red blood cell production.
  • Potassium – The skin has extra potassium, a mineral electrolyte that helps nerves and muscles function.

In addition, kiwi skins contain some unique protective plant compounds like flavonoids and carotenoids that act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation.

Fiber Content of Kiwi Skin

One of the biggest advantages of eating kiwi peel is its high fiber content. A single kiwi fruit with the skin provides around 5 grams of fiber, or about 20% of the recommended daily value.

Fiber has many proven health benefits including:

  • Improving digestion and gut health
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Controlling blood sugar levels
  • Increasing feelings of fullness after meals

The fiber in kiwi skin can also act as a prebiotic to feed the good bacteria in your intestines. This improved gut microbiome is linked with benefits like lower inflammation, better immunity, and weight management.

Vitamin C in Kiwi Peels

Another major nutrient found in kiwi skin is vitamin C. One medium kiwi fruit contains about 64 mg of vitamin C. But when you eat the nutrient-dense peel as well, the vitamin C content doubles to about 137 mg.

Vitamin C is crucial for:

  • Collagen production
  • Wound healing
  • Iron absorption
  • Immune system function
  • Antioxidant protection

Eating the peel provides extra vitamin C to safeguard your body against damage from oxidative stress and inflammation.

Antioxidants in Kiwi Skin

In addition to vitamins C and E, kiwi peel contains beneficial plant compounds that act as antioxidants inside your body.

These include:

  • Flavonoids – Quercetin, catechins, epicatechin
  • Carotenoids – Beta-carotene, lutein
  • Polyphenols – Chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid

Research shows that these antioxidants found in the skin and outer fleshy part of kiwi fruit can help:

  • Lower inflammation
  • Reduce DNA damage
  • Prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation
  • Inhibit the growth of cancer cells in test tube studies

This antioxidant activity is attributed to the unique combination of phytonutrients in the fuzzy peel.

Allergies to Kiwi Skin

For most people, eating kiwi peel is safe with no adverse effects. But some individuals may be allergic to compounds found in the skin.

Signs of an allergic reaction can include:

  • Itchy mouth or throat
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat
  • Hives or rash
  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Runny nose, sneezing, coughing

Allergies are more common in young children but can affect anyone. People with latex allergies may also react to kiwi. If you experience any symptoms of an allergy while eating kiwi with the skin, avoid the peel in the future.

Pesticide Residues on Kiwi Peels

Another possible downside of eating kiwi skin is getting exposed to pesticide residues. Since the fuzzy peel is what directly touches the ground and surrounding surfaces as the kiwi grows, more of the chemicals stick to the skin.

Washing the kiwi properly helps remove some external contaminants. However, peeling the fruit completely eliminates any residues.

If you want to lower your pesticide intake, either wash kiwis very thoroughly or peel them before eating. Organic kiwis may also have fewer pesticides if this is a major concern.

How to Eat Kiwi Skin

Here are some tips for including kiwi peel when you eat this delicious fruit:

  • Wash the kiwi under cool running water while gently scrubbing the brown skin with your fingers or a vegetable brush. This helps remove dirt and some residues.
  • Cut both ends off the kiwi first, then slice off the top and bottom parts of the skin. The top and bottom parts tend to be thicker with more fuzz.
  • Slice the kiwi into rounds or dice it, leaving the remaining green peel intact.
  • Add diced kiwi with skin to yogurt, oatmeal, salads, smoothies, chia pudding, or cottage cheese.
  • Blend peeled kiwi pieces in the blender to make smoothies with a thick, fiber-rich texture.

The sweet green kiwi flesh balances out any tartness from the peel. Riper kiwis will tend to have thinner, more tender skin as well.

Should Children Eat Kiwi Skin?

Kiwi peel can be a choking hazard for children under 5 years old. The fuzzy texture and small pieces of skin can be difficult for young kids to chew and swallow properly.

For toddlers and preschoolers, it’s better to peel kiwis completely before slicing them. You can reserve a portion of the peeled fruit to blend up with the skin for an extra nutritious smoothie.

For kids over age 5, washed and diced kiwi with peel is generally safe. But supervise young children when serving foods with skins and peels to prevent choking.

Can Dogs Eat Kiwi Skin?

Kiwi fruit is safe for dogs to eat in moderation. But the skin does present some risks and may be difficult for dogs to digest.

Potential issues with dogs eating kiwi peel include:

  • Choking hazard from swallowing large pieces
  • Irritation to the mouth or gastrointestinal tract
  • Difficulty digesting the fibrous skin
  • Pesticide residue if not washed properly

For dog safety and comfort, it is best to peel the fuzzy skin before feeding kiwi to your pet. The flesh can make a healthy, fiber-rich treat in small amounts.

Can You Eat Organic Kiwi Skin?

Organic kiwis come from plants that are not treated with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Choosing organic can give you extra confidence that kiwi peel is free of chemical residues.

However, organic kiwi skin should still be washed before eating to remove any dirt or contaminants from the growing and harvesting process. Scrubbing the peel under cool water helps remove debris.

The skin of organic kiwi offers the same nutritional benefits as conventional kiwis. But organic kiwi peels may be safer for people wanting to avoid pesticides in produce.

Nutrition Facts of Kiwi Skin

Here is an overview of the nutrition found in 1 cup (150 grams) of kiwi fruit peel:

Nutrient Amount % DV
Calories 239 12%
Fiber 13.5 g 54%
Vitamin C 161.9 mg 269%
Vitamin E 4.5 mg 30%
Vitamin K 59.5 mcg 74%
Potassium 522 mg 15%

Kiwi peel also contains smaller amounts of B vitamins like folate, niacin, and pantothenic acid.

Health Benefits of Kiwi Skin

Here’s a summary of the top health benefits associated with eating kiwi peel:

  • High fiber content – Improves digestion, heart health, blood sugar control, weight management
  • Vitamin C – Boosts immunity, aids collagen production, acts as antioxidant
  • Antioxidants – Reduce inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Vitamin E – Supports skin, eye, and immune health
  • Potassium – Needed for nerve signaling, heart function, muscle control
  • Folate – Essential for healthy blood cells and DNA

Downsides of Eating Kiwi Skin

Possible disadvantages of eating kiwi peel include:

  • Allergy risk – May cause oral allergy syndrome in those allergic to kiwi, latex, banana, avocado, chestnut, fig, or papaya
  • Choking hazard – Difficult to swallow for young kids and pets
  • Pesticides – Unwashed peel may contain higher residues compared to the flesh
  • Digestive issues – Fiber content may cause gas, bloating, diarrhea for sensitive people

The Bottom Line

Kiwi peel is edible and packed with important nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, and antioxidants. Eating the skin can provide health benefits by improving your nutrient intake and digestive health.

However, kiwi peel does present a choking risk for kids and pets. It also may contain pesticide residues if not washed properly. People with kiwi allergies should avoid the skin as well.

Most healthy adults can safely consume kiwi peel in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Just be sure to wash the fuzzy skin first and introduce it slowly to assess your tolerance.

Adding this fruit peel provides extra nutrition and fiber to boost your overall diet.

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