Recent research conducted by the University of Oslo in Norway reveals that consuming two to three kiwifruit per day can work to thin blood, reduce clotting and lower fat in the blood that can cause blockage, without negatively affecting cholesterol levels. In short, kiwifruit consumption has similar effects to the daily dosage of aspirin recommended by physicians to improve heart health.
"Platelet inhibitory drugs, such as aspirin, have been shown to reduce the incidence of myocardial infarction, stroke and death from cardiovascular disease," said Professor Asim K. Duttaroy of the Institute for Basic Medical Sciences at the University of Oslo, Norway who spearheaded the research. "Our study shows that consuming two or three kiwifruit per day for 28 days significantly reduced platelet aggregation (blood clotting) in human volunteers. Moreover, plasma triglyceride levels were also reduced in these volunteers."
In his research paper, which was published in the August 2004 issue of Platelets medical journal, Dr. Duttaroy explains that certain phytonutrients, known as polyphenolic compounds, are widely distributed in fruits and vegetables. He notes that many of these have antioxidant as well as anti-thrombotic properties, which help prevent blood clotting. However, Duttaroy stresses that although kiwifruit contains very significant amounts of antioxidants such as polyphenols and vitamins C and E, these were not included in the study.
"There is something in kiwifruit which creates an anti-platelet effect," said Dr. Duttaroy, who also notes that it appears the mode of action by which kiwifruit elicits this response is quite different from that of aspirin. "Further research on identification of the active compound is required for a more definitive conclusion."
However, Duttaroy notes that one thing is clear from the research. Consuming kiwifruit is an effective way of inhibiting blood clotting and can improve cardiovascular risk profiles in healthy adults. Volunteers who participated in the study consumed two to three kiwifruit per day for a period of 28 days and experienced significant reductions in platelet aggregation (blood clotting) when compared to controls. This is despite the fact that volunteers maintained their regular diets during the supplement period. Further, after a two-week wash out period in which the volunteers stopped kiwifruit consumption, their blood levels returned to pre-supplement period base line.
Dr. Duttaroy explains that the dosage level in the study was restricted to two to three fruits per day to prevent any negative side effects. He also noted that it could be assumed kiwifruit consumption would not create any of those risk factors associated with aspirin such as stomach pain, excessive bruising or bleeding, nor does kiwifruit appear to disrupt the effects of any other medications.
For now, researchers are stopping short of recommending kiwifruit as a replacement for aspirin by cardio vascular patients. Those under a doctor's care should consult their physician before making any dietary changes.
"The results of our study are quite promising and are an indication that kiwifruit is an excellent choice for people trying to improve heart health through diet," said Duttaroy. "Further research is warranted, but for now, we would recommend kiwifruit consumption as a tool to help healthy adults prevent or halt processes that lead to cardio vascular disease."
Kiwifruit is currently produced year round with leading suppliers being New Zealand, Chile, Italy and California. Kiwifruit harvest is just beginning in California and supplies will be available from September and into May.
In addition to these newly discovered health benefits with respect to cardio vascular disease, a recent study by the internationally renowned Rowett Research Institute in the United Kingdom shows that eating kiwifruit daily can provide substantial protection against the kind of DNA damage that can trigger cancer and, more significantly, kiwifruit greatly speeds the repair of DNA damage.
"We are learning that the nutritional benefit of kiwifruit is rather astounding," said Lindy LaFrancis, president of the California Kiwifruit Commission, an organization which represents kiwifruit farmers in California. "In fact, in a study conducted at Rutgers University, kiwifruit was determined to be the most nutrient dense fruit, which means that ounce-for-ounce kiwifruit contains more vitamins and minerals than 27 of the most commonly consumed fruits. With this new information on kiwifruit's positive impact on heart health, it is our hope that more people will realize the benefits of kiwifruit consumption."
For more information on the nutritional content, health benefits and usage ideas for kiwifruit please visit the website of the California Kiwifruit Commission at www.kiwifruit.org or contact Dominique Hansen at (831) 786-1665.