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Kiwi-Compound Breaks Down Proteins Quicker Than Digestive Enzymes

Update Date: Sep 16, 2013 10:16 AM EDT
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Eating kiwis after meals may help aid digestion and prevent bloating, a new study suggests.

New research has linked the tangy, green fruits to better digestion and a decrease in the feeling of "over fullness and discomfort".

Scientists found that actinidin, a unique compound in kiwis, helps the body break down proteins in red meat, diary and fish.  Researchers believe the exotic fruit could even help those with poor digestion process heavy dairy-laden or meaty meals.

"The observed enhancement of gastric protein digestion after eating kiwi fruit may increase the rate at which protein is absorbed in the small intestine, ultimately affecting the overall protein utilization in the human body," lead author Dr. Lovedeep Kaur from Massey University in New Zealand told the Daily Mail.

"Faster and more complete digestion of food proteins occurs due to the presence of a unique naturally occurring enzyme present only in kiwi fruit, actinidin," Kaur said. "The kiwi fruit enzyme alone, even in the absence of any other digestive enzymes, is found to be capable of digesting many proteins present in foods, particularly, yogurt, cheese, tuna and raw eggs, which suggests that eating a kiwi fruit with a protein-rich meal may be a suitable solution for those with compromised digestion."

Besides helping digestion, researchers say kiwis contain more vitamin C than oranges.

The latest study, which was conducted on laboratory rats, concluded that actinidin, which is abundant in kiwis, helps the body digest protein quicker than digestive enzymes.

"It is clear from the studies that consuming green kiwi fruit as part of a protein-rich meal increases the extent of protein digestion, particularly in the stomach," researchers wrote in the study.  "Faster stomach emptying in the presence of actinidin...may help reduce feelings of over fullness and gastric discomfort sometimes reporter by those consuming a high-protein diet."

The findings are published in the journal Advances in Food and Nutrition Research.

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