Feeling tired? Burned out? When clients tell me this, there are two critical times of day that I take a close look at: Those mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. In a world saturated with sugary concoctions, energy drinks, and vending-machine nibbles, what if I told you that one of the fastest, easiest and healthiest pick-me-ups was as simple as eating a kiwi? Most of my clients are looking for two things when it comes to their health: More energy, and to slim down. Snacking on kiwi helps them do both, and it can help you, too. That’s because bite for bite, this jewel-toned fruit is one of the most nutrient-packed foods in the produce aisle.
Consider this: Kiwi contains twice the vitamin C of an orange, more potassium than a banana, and as much fiber as a bowl of bran flakes. In fact, a study by Rutgers University looked at 27 of the most commonly consumed fruits, and concluded that ounce for ounce, kiwi ranked as #1 when it came to nutrient density.
Why It Works
Kiwi’s refreshingly tart taste will perk up your taste buds from the very first bite. It’s naturally occurring sugars satisfy that need for “something sweet”, and it’s high fiber content helps keep your blood sugar stable longer, giving you lasting energy. In fact, with a glycemic index (GI) of about 47, kiwi is considered a low GI fruit, a key indicator of a food’s ability to keep your blood sugar stable longer. It’s also a good source of folic acid, a key nutrient involved in red blood cell production, and another key component of your body’s energy pathways.
Then there are the other health benefits stemming from that luscious emerald color: Kiwi is packed with antioxidants that help protect your cells from DNA damage, including lutein, an antioxidant that research suggests helps reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
This affordable fruit is in season right now, and is widely available at grocery stores and big box retailers. And the best part? Kiwi has some of the lowest pesticide residue levels of any produce, earning them a spot on the Environmental Working Group’s Clean 15. That means you can buy the conventional variety (as opposed to organic), helping you save green while you enjoy this green treat.
Your Kiwi Prescription
Add two kiwi a day to your diet for a nutritional and energy boost. Here’s how:
- Slice kiwi into cereal. Instead of berries (which can be more expensive, especially when they are out of season), wake your taste buds with one sliced kiwi on top of your favorite whole grain cereal.
- Savor an energizing snack. Pair a kiwi with a high protein partner, such as a handful of almonds or a half-cup of lowfat organic cottage cheese, for the ultimate energy boost that will power you through until your next meal.
- Top your salad with kiwi. The vitamin C will enhance your body’s ability to absorb the iron in those dark leafy greens, which is great because iron plays a key role in your body’s energy pathways.
- Freshen up dinner with a kiwi salsa. Mix kiwi with a delicious mix of ginger-mint-cantaloupe, or pineapple-cilantro-red onion and place it on top of grilled fish or chicken.
- Just dig in. The fastest energy boost? Simply cut a ripe kiwi in half, and scoop it out with a spoon. Tart and tasty.
- Try Dr. Oz’s favorite! Dr. Oz loved my kiwi pops so much, he asked that the staff hold onto them for him to enjoy after the show. You can make them at home: Simply purée 4-5 ripe kiwis in a food processor (if they are ripe, you won’t need to add sugar). Place 1 slice of whole kiwi at the bottom of the popsicle mold first, then fill with kiwi purée and freeze. Perfect for a satisfying snack or after dinner treat.
One Last Secret
For the ultimate energy boost, the best secret is to be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially with those mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. As little as 2% dehydration can leave you crankier, less able to concentrate, and feeling more sluggish. Who needs that? Bring a reusable water bottle to work and keep it in front of you – it’ll be a powerful visual reminder to drink throughout the day.
What are your favorite energy-boosting snacks? I’d love to hear.