With the major cold season rapidly approaching, consumers are flocking to the cold and flu isle of the local grocery store to impede the onslaught of symptoms. What if one powerful little fruit could do the same thing? Would puffy-eyed, runny-nosed individuals be crowding the produce section? This month the British Journal of Nutrition thinks so. It published a study suggesting Gold Kiwifruit (Actinidia chinensis) will decrease the severity and duration of upper respiratory tract infections in healthy older adults.
A study of Ecuadorian community dwelling elderly illustrated a causal link between respiratory infections and micronutrient deficiency. Of most importance in this particular study were Vitamin C, D, B6 and B12, folic acid, and zinc. Additionally, it is well known several other nutrients are necessary for proper immune function. Those include: essential amino acids, linolenic acid, folic acid, vitamin A, B6, B12, C, E and zinc, copper, iron and selenium. One of the most common causes for why older adults are more susceptible to the common cold is due to malnutrition. The nutrient dense gold kiwifruit helps to provide some essential microminerals necessary to fighting viral infections. There are currently no medical interventions proven to cure influenza or the common cold. Most often, good, old fashioned sleep, rest and nutrition are the prescription.
The study took 132 community dwelling older adults and placed half on a diet rich in gold kiwifruit while the remainder gobbled bananas. Gold kiwis are rich in vitamins C and E, folate, carotinoids, polyphenols, and potassium. The volume of kiwi the study’s participants were consuming also contained up to 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance of fiber. Bananas contain an equal amount of calories as the kiwi but are lacking the micronutrient density. The study found during a 28-day treatment period there was a significant decrease in severity and duration of both sore throat and head congestion. On average, the kiwi group had their sore throats resolved three days sooner while head congestion resolved almost four days sooner as compared to the banana consuming group. Additionally, gold kiwifruit significantly enhanced the concentration of erythrocytes in red blood cells.
Next time someone starts to complain of a scratchy throat, head to the produce isle for some gold kiwifruit.
Sources for this article include:
Calder PC & Kew S (2002) The immune system: a target for functional foods? Br J Nutr 88, S165-S176.
Ferguson AR & Ferguson LR (2003) Are kiwifruit really good for you? Acta Hortic 610, 131-138.
Hamer DH, Sempertegui F, Estrella B, et al. (2009) Micronutrient deficiencies are associated with impaired immune response and higher burden of respiratory infections in elderly Ecuadorians. J Nutr 139, 113-119.
Hunter DC, Skinner MA, Wobler FM, et al. (2012) Consumption of gold kiwifruit reduces severity and duration of selected upper respiratory tract infection symptoms and increases plasma vitamin C concentration in healthy older adults. British Journal of Nutrition, 108, pp 1235-1245