Kiwifruit can help people fasting during the holy month of Ramadan to maintain healthy levels of nutrients and electrolytes in the body, according to a New Zealand kiwifruit grower.
Citing its high fibre content, Dubai-based grower Megan Unsworth says that kiwifruit taken as part of the Suhoor pre-dawn meal can help prepare the body for the day’s fast. “A balanced diet is important at all times but especially during the Ramadan fast,” Unsworth said. “The body will benefit from the right mix of high-fibre food and liquids to help maintain energy levels and hydration throughout the day until Iftar.”
Unsworth, who has lived in Dubai for 10 years but also manages a kiwifruit farm in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty, advises people fasting for Ramadan to include all the major food groups in their diet, to eat small portions and to drink plenty of liquid with Suhoor and Iftar meals – especially as this year Ramadan falls at the height of summer.
“Oats porridge is hard to beat as a Suhoor staple, because it releases its nutrients and energy gradually during the day,” she said. “I recommend kiwifruit as part of a balanced pre-dawn approach, along with eggs, wholegrain bread, banana, yoghurt and berries. The kiwifruit can be eaten whole or included in a smoothie, which helps raise the liquid intake.”
Kiwifruit is also high in Vitamins C and E and has a low glycemic index (GI) making it particularly well suited to theMiddle Eastdue to the help it provides in the management of diabetes, which is so prevalent here.
Hala Barghout, a leading nutritionist and licensed clinical dietician in Dubai, is a big kiwifruit supporter. “Everyone knows that citrus fruit contains vitamin C, but a kiwifruit actually contains twice as much vitamin C as an orange of the same size – and three times as much as a lemon,” she said. “Vitamin C helps strengthen the body’s defences and promotes healthy bones, teeth and blood vessels. Kiwifruit is also a good source of the antioxidant Vitamin E. It provides twice the level of Vitamin E as an apple and is five times more nutritious.”
ZESPRI green Kiwifruit also contains a soluble protein enzyme – actinidin – which is a natural laxative. Kiwifruit is the only fruit that contains this enzyme, which helps in digesting proteins from meat and dairy products and stimulates digestion in general. “Making kiwifruit an integral part of a balanced diet, combined with sufficient fluids and exercise, is the easy way to achieve good digestion habits,” Barghout added.
New Zealand kiwifruit is now widely available across Qatar, with the traditional green kiwifruit joined by the newer gold variety, which has an even sweeter taste and is proving to be a big hit with people in the UAE this summer, Unsworth said.
The kiwifruit actually originated in China and was known initially as the Chinese gooseberry when seeds were first transported to New Zealand. However, New Zealand growers became the world’s largest source for the fruit, which became known globally as the kiwifruit after New Zealand’s national symbol: the flightless Kiwi bird.
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