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Nasal allergy (allergic rhinitis) is an annoying medical condition that once plagued my colleague Zac. Recently, he shared an interesting recipe with me—and drew my attention to kiwifruit (Chinese gooseberry).
Zac’s nasal allergy started during his time at secondary school where he regularly endured a stuffy nose, sneezing, and puffy eyes. One of his school teachers, who shared the same malady, told Zac about a decoction made of kiwifruit to improve nasal allergies. Zac didn’t follow the teacher’s advice.
A year later when he tried to adjust his weight, the diet he was on called for eating two kiwifruits a day. Since then, Zac has had no incidence of nasal allergy—an experience that made kiwifruit stick in his mind.
Nasal allergy is mainly caused by exposure of the nasal mucosa to allergens that cause the body cells to release histamine and other mediators, triggering an allergic reaction. A study published in the November 2017 edition of Nutrients showed that vitamin C helps reduce histamine levels and thus reduce symptoms of nasal allergy.
A three-ounce serving of kiwifruit contains 100 grams of vitamin C. According to 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Survey data, the average intake of vitamin C for adult males is 0.004 ounces per day, adult females 0.003 ounces per day, and for children and adolescents aged 1 to 18 is 0.0027 to 0.0035 ounces per day. Thus, a 3.5 oz serving of kiwifruit can provide at least 70 percent of the daily vitamin C requirement of the body.
Kiwifruit also has anti-cancer effects. Research published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer in 2020 found that kiwifruit as a supplement to the daily diet may be related to direct and indirect anti-cancer effects.
The direct anti-cancer effect is mainly due to the rich vitamin C content in kiwifruit, an antioxidant that protects cell DNA, reduces oxidative damage, and enhances the body’s immunity. Kiwifruit also contains fisetin and ursolic acid, which are cytotoxic to cancer cells and can inhibit cancer cell proliferation and promote cancer cell apoptosis.
The indirect anti-cancer effect is that the dietary fiber and pectin in kiwifruit can promote bowel movement and increase the number of lactic acid bacteria in the intestine, thereby reducing the risk of cancer, especially colorectal cancer.
Lower Blood Pressure
In addition, kiwifruit is rich in potassium, which helps maintain normal blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular diseases, though it is not ideal for people with poor kidney function. In a 2015 study published in the journal Blood Pressure, 118 patients with normal hypertension or primary hypertension were divided into two groups for an eight-week trial. The results showed that patients who ate three kiwifruits a day had lower blood pressure than those who ate an apple a day.
Kiwifruit is rich in calcium, an important element that can enhance sleep quality and improve the stability and relaxation of the nervous system, thereby reducing insomnia.
Nature of Kiwifruit
Kiwifruit is also called Chinese gooseberry, and its rhizome can be used as a Chinese herbal medicine for anti-cancer function. When it comes to kiwifruit, some may think of New Zealand—but the green seeded fruit’s origins are from China and can be traced back to 1904, when a New Zealand school teacher, Isabel Fraser, returned from a visit to China with kiwifruit seeds. Kiwifruit was then widely planted and sold in New Zealand.
In Chinese medicine, food is considered to be either cold or hot in nature—and despite its many nutritional benefits, Kiwifruit is considered to be “cold” and “cool.” Chinese medicine believes that when people eat cold foods, they increase the cooling effect on the body while eating hot foods will increase the warming effect on the body. Therefore, balancing the intake of cold and hot foods better serves the body. They should be eaten in moderation and boiling kiwifruit in hot water to make a decoction out of it can reduce its cooling effect.
A Decoction with Kiwifruit
Hong Kong Yan Chai Hospital shared a decoction of kiwifruit, which has the effect of moistening the lungs and relieving coughs, invigorating the spleen and appetite, clearing away heat, and promoting body fluid. It is suitable for lung cancer patients with symptoms such as dry cough, dry mouth, and gradual weight loss.
Ingredients* (2 to 3 servings):
30 grams Lily (1 ounce)
30 grams Apricot kernels (1 ounce)
6 grams Chuan Bei (Tendrilleaf Fritillary Bulb) (0.2 ounce)
3 to 5 pieces of snow fungus
200 grams Pork shank (7 ounces)
*Some of these ingredients may be found at local Asian food markets.
Preparation (about 2 hours):
- Soak the snow fungus in clean water, remove the hard stalks, and cut them into small pieces. Remove the peel of the kiwifruit and cut it in half. Put the pork shank in boiling water for a while, then cut it into smaller pieces for later use.
- Rinse the lily, apricot kernels, and Chuan Bei with water and soak for about 15 minutes.
- Put water and all the ingredients (except the pork shank) into a pot. Add the pork shank when it starts to boil, turn to low fire, and cook for 1 to 1.5 hours. Then add the kiwifruits and cook for another 15 minutes. It is then ready to serve. Salt to taste if you so desire.
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