In a variation of the apple-a-day recipe for health, a gold kiwifruit or four led elderly people to shake off some cold symptoms faster than usual.

"Goldies" have been found to help with two respiratory virus symptoms: head congestion and sore throat.

The trial, led by the Institute for Plant and Food Research, was funded by kiwifruit exporter Zespri, but was done with the involvement of Massey University and the results are published in an independent British nutrition journal.

In the trial, people 65 or older ate the equivalent of either four gold kiwifruit or two bananas daily for four weeks. They then had a break from the "treatment" and then switched group, so everyone had a turn on both foods.


"Gold kiwifruit did not significantly reduce the overall incidence of upper respiratory tract infections compared with banana," the journal paper says, "but significantly reduced the severity and duration of head congestion and the duration of sore throat.

"This study shows that the micronutrients provided by regular eating of gold kiwifruit appear to be important in reducing symptoms of colds and other upper respiratory infections," said researcher Dr Denise Hunter. "While we do not know what compounds produce these results, these findings suggest that eating gold kiwifruit on a regular basis throughout the winter period may reduce the severity of some cold symptoms."

A similar goldie/banana study last year found that pre-school children had a lower incidence of colds and flu-like illnesses during the gold kiwifruit phases of that study, as well as having lower rates of three upper respiratory infection symptoms: cough, headache and "feeling unwell".