I’m sure you’ve heard of “superfoods.” They aren’t real, mind you. That term is an advertising concept invented by a clever company somewhere whose task was to get consumers to buy more fresh produce at the grocery store. It also gives grocers an excuse to double or triple the cost of staples that should be easily affordable to everyone. Do you know what our grandparents and great grandparents called superfoods? Food. Some examples of overpriced superfoods are blueberries, kale, nuts, pomegranate, açai, salmon, quinoa, etc. There are some that are still much more reasonably priced for some reason (e.g. broccoli, apples, sweet potatoes and garlic). I’m not quite clear what causes some foods to be superfoods, but one they have overlooked as of now is kiwi.
If anything ought to be relabeled a superfood and currently isn’t, it would be kiwi. Two small — or one large — kiwis have considerably more potassium than a banana, more vitamin C than an orange or serving of strawberries, more fiber than an apple, more vitamin K than spinach, a significant amount of water and less impact on your insulin levels than practically all of those. All that in one little piece of fruit? “But I don’t like kiwis!” Hush! Learn to like them.
Before I continue, let me clarify that I am not in any way trying to say that bananas, oranges, strawberries, apples, and kale aren’t good for you. Enjoy them with the same moderation you enjoy everything else (in your ideal life). I’m not telling you not to have the banana before or after your workout in order to stave off delayed onset lactic acid pain (even though delayed onset lactic acid pain isn’t real either), I am simply suggesting an alternative that has more of what you’re looking for accompanied by less sugar.
As you might remember from past entries, I mentioned the work of Dr. Jason Fung. He has written many works explaining why calories are a distraction, and why focusing on glycemic index and insulin response is fundamental to improving and maintaining body composition. Try to avoid thinking “kiwis have fewer calories than bananas,” even though that is empirically true. Think instead, “kiwis will trigger less of an insulin response than bananas.” It may seem like an insignificant distinction, but it is a very important concept to understand as you go forward making food choices to reduce body fat.
Back to kiwis: You need to eat them with the skin on. Oh, stop groaning! I can already hear you complaining. Hush! Learn to like them with the skin on.
Yes, kiwis are fuzzy; however, running them under water and then toweling them off removes nearly all the loose hairs along with any debris that might be caught between them. That greatly improves their mouthfeel. (Note: Golden/Yellow kiwis are naturally hairless, but I don’t know if they claim all the same nutritional advantages of their green counterparts.) Next, cut off the end with the stem and the opposite end as well. You will have a little kiwi barrel. They are so cute like this! Next, quarter the kiwi to make four easily eaten slices. Nothing to it! Way easier than obliterating all the nutrition with clumsy peeling.
So then, if you are eating lots of bananas with the idea that they will help reduce muscle soreness, kiwis are an option to consider, if you are also trying to lose or maintain lower levels of body fat. I would caution you to avoid reducing your food to simplistic ideas: Bananas have potassium, but they have lots of other properties, too. Think more broadly about what your foods do. Bananas trigger more insulin than other options that contain potassium. If your goal is to pack on weight, then bananas are more appropriate. If you’re trying to get or stay lean, kiwis are more appropriate. Both are healthful. Neither are bad. Be specific about your needs.
Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at UCLA, and earned certification as a personal trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy is founded upon integrated lifestyles as opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at jackkirven.com and INTEGRE8Twellness.com.