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Organic vs Non-Organic Kiwifruit From a Nutritional Perspective

Kiwi Fruit

Is organic kiwi fruit better for you than non-organic kiwifruit? Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes lists that single out conventionally-grown produce with the highest and the lowest loads of pesticide residues, and time and again, conventionally-grown kiwi fruit pops up on the EWG's list of the cleanest non-organic produce. But before you conclude that organic kiwis are a waste of money, know this: the amount of pesticides in organic vs regular kiwis is hardly the only thing that sets them apart. Turns out, the growing method can also have an impact on the nutritional value of the kiwi fruit (and therefore also the health benefits of kiwis). Read on to get the full scoop.

Vitamin C Content

Kiwi fruit is a good source of vitamin C, even better than oranges. According to the nutrition facts data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), regular green kiwis contain 93 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams, whereas oranges, the poster child of this powerful antioxidant, only contain 53 milligrams [1]. And, here's the kicker: a University of California at Davis study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that organic kiwis had even more vitamin C than regular kiwis that were grown on the same Marisville farm in California and harvested at the same maturity stage [2]!

Vitamin C has many functions in your body, including keeping your immune system, bones, teeth and skin healthy. In addition, there is some evidence suggesting that vitamin C may be good for asthma sufferers, and preliminary research indicates it may also help boost fat burning in some situations. However, more research needs to be done before conclusions can be made about the potential weight loss benefits of vitamin C.

Antioxidant Properties

Kiwis also contain phenolic compounds which, just like vitamin C, have antioxidant properties. The same study that analyzed the vitamin C content of organic vs non-organic kiwi fruits grown on the same farm also looked at the phenolic content of kiwis and found that organically-grown kiwis contained significantly more phenolic compounds that their conventionally grown counterparts. Given that organic kiwis had more both vitamin C and phenolic compounds, it is not surprising that the organic fruits also had stronger antioxidant activity, as measured by DPPH free radical scavenging ability [2].

Researchers commonly use the DPPH method to measure antioxidant potency of foods, drinks and supplements in in-vitro settings. It is important to keep in mind, however, that in-vitro antioxidant capacity does not necessarily translate into in-vivo biological activity. Therefore, more research is needed to explore the health benefits of the antioxidants in organic and non-organic kiwis in actual living beings.

Mineral Content

In addition to comparing the vitamin C content, phenolic content, and antioxidant properties of organic vs regular kiwis, the UC Davis study analyzed differences in the mineral composition of organic and non-organic kiwis. The finding: the organic kiwis contained more of all the analyzed minerals – including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus – than the non-organic kiwis grown at the same farm.

However, you should know that by eating a kiwi or two, whether organic or non-organic, you won't be getting lots of minerals, with the exception of potassium. A 100-gram serving kiwifruit provides 312 milligrams of potassium [1], which corresponds to 9% of the daily value for this essential nutrient. If you are looking to step up your mineral intake in general, you will be better off adding nuts and seeds to your diet.

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