Research released at the first International Symposium on Kiwifruit and Health in Tauranga today states there is an increasing body of evidence for kiwifruit's benefits to the digestive system, immunity and metabolic health.
The symposium brought together nearly 200 global health experts to consider the role of fruit, in particular kiwifruit, in a healthy diet. The event was initiated by the Riddet Institute of New Zealand and sponsored by Zespri.
It presented the most recent studies and the research underway into the health benefits of kiwifruit within the areas of digestive health, health and vitamin C and metabolic health.
Keynote speaker, Professor Jaap Seidell from Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, the Netherlands' foremost obesity specialist, said today there was general consensus that for much of the world, nutrient-poor food is a key driver in escalating rates of obesity and related chronic disease.
"Improved health outcomes are associated with diets high in nutrient-rich, low energy-dense fruit - such as kiwifruit."
The key findings presented included:
• Kiwifruit regulates sugar highs and lows in your blood stream.
• For the first time in human clinical trials, Zespri Green kiwifruit has been found to improve digestive health function and comfort. This is through a unique combination of actinidin (a kiwifruit enzyme), fibre and other components.
• Kiwifruit boosts immunity. Eating kiwifruit daily is very effective at increasing blood levels of vitamin C as well as levels in other parts of the body.
Zespri's innovation leader for health and nutrition, Dr Juliet Ansell, said the findings were great news for Zespri consumers.
"We know that the more people hear about the health benefits of kiwifruit the more they consume, and this week we have heard exciting research results from new scientific studies. The body of scientific evidence for the health benefits of kiwifruit continues to grow."
Dr Ansell said a highlight had been the finding by Dr John Monro from Plant and Food Research on the glycaemic impact of kiwifruit, which showed kiwifruit helped regulate blood sugar levels.
Professor Richard Gearry presented the New Zealand results of a multi-centre clinical trial on the effect of kiwifruit on digestive and gut health functions.
Distinguished professor Paul Moughan, co-director of the Riddet Institute, said the symposium was the first time anywhere that so much expertise on kiwifruit and health science had been brought together in one place.
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