Kiwis to improve constipation ! Surely you have heard this more than once, and the truth is that he is right. There is plenty of scientific evidence in this regard, which attributes this property of kiwi to the effect of its nutritional components on the body.
However, to date, the use of these properties in the labeling or advertising of kiwifruit is not legally authorized. In fact, it was not until last year that the proposal for this type of declaration was launched to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) with a view to starting the procedures for its authorization at European level given the evidence .
What is a health claim?
But let’s start by clarifying terms. What is a food claim and what does it entail?
Well, many foods are promoted by highlighting health properties or nutritional benefits on their labeling or through the media. These claims are known as nutrition claims and health claims , respectively.
The use of these is voluntary. In addition, the economic operator can only use them in compliance with the conditions established by the regulations and under which they have been authorized. In this way, it is avoided to mislead or mislead the consumer regarding the foods they accompany.
Who is in charge of deciding what can appear on the food label?
In this regard, Regulation 1924/2006 harmonizes the provisions relating to the use of health claims or nutritional benefits in foods and establishes the rules regarding the community authorization of these health claims. In fact, for the authorization of a new declaration, economic operators must submit a reasoned proposal to the EFSA with a view to receiving an opinion. With a favorable opinion, the European Commission is now in a position to authorize the use of the declaration object of the proposal with the corresponding inclusion in the Community Registry.
It should be noted that the Community Registry includes both the authorized declarations with their corresponding specifications of use, as well as the rejected declarations together with the reason for their exclusion. For more information and consultation, through this link you can consult said Registry .
Kiwifruit as a regulator of intestinal transit
In the specific case of the green kiwi ( Actinidia deliciosa Hayward variety ) , the proposal was launched for a declaration of healthy properties , understood as that which relates a food or one of its components to health. The proposals presented were “regular consumption of green kiwifruit contributes to gastrointestinal well-being ” or “regular consumption of kiwifruit reduces gastrointestinal discomfort ”.
Is there scientific evidence to show that kiwi is beneficial for intestinal transit?
As evidence and alleged mechanisms of action to support the benefits of kiwifruit for gastrointestinal health , the following were provided:
- Alteration of intestinal motility due to fiber and actinidin (enzyme contained in the pulp of green kiwi).
- Changes in intestinal permeability and mucus secretion thanks to fiber, kissper (a peptide present in kiwifruit with anti-inflammatory effects) and phenolic compounds.
- Alteration of the properties of the fecal bolus due to fiber.
- Alteration of the intestinal microbiota due, once again, to fiber and phenolic compounds.
With all this, as regulated in the aforementioned regulations, the EFSA panel must be based on a series of pre-established criteria that, in order to issue a favorable opinion, all must apply to the object of study:
- The food must be well defined and characterized . In this case, the proposal has been made on a specific species of green kiwi, Hayward, which is the main variety currently available on the market.
- The advocated effect is defined and based on a beneficial physiological effect on the target population and can be measured in vivo in humans . Thus, the kiwi provides 3g of fiber for every 100g of product. Of this fiber, 1/3 is soluble fiber that is metabolized by the intestinal microbiota, thus stimulating its growth with the corresponding positive impact on fecal mass. The other 2/3 is made up of insoluble fiber, mainly cellulose and hemicellulose, which, as they are not digested by microorganisms in the colon, contribute to the formation of the fecal bolus and its hydration by retaining water.
- There is scientific evidence of the cause-effect relationship . The applicant provided 18 human intervention studies, literature searches, and a systematic review of the literature to support these claimed mechanisms of action.
The EFSA has given the “YES” to the kiwi as a regulator of intestinal transit
Finally, the EFSA has concluded that the cause-effect relationship between green kiwifruit and the maintenance of normal defecation in the general population consists of convincing evidence, as well as that the rest of the criteria are met. Therefore, the statement proposed in his report is the following ” the green kiwi contributes to the maintenance of normal defecation “, which is accompanied by the following nuances “the daily consumption of 2 large kiwis is recommended to achieve this effect”. Now we just have to wait for its inclusion in the Community Registry.
- Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition, AESAN (2021) Nutritional and health claims. Retrieved from https://www.aesan.gob.es/AECOSAN/web/seguridad_alimentaria/detalle/declaraciones_nutricionales_saludables.htm
- Ciardiello MA, Meleleo D, Saviano G, Crescenzo R, Carratore V, Camardella L, Gallucci E, Micelli S, Tancredi T, Picone D, Tamburrini M (2008) Kissper, a kiwi fruit peptide with channel-like activity: structural and functional features . J Pept Sci 14 (6): 742-54. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18186145/
- Montoya C.A, Rutherfurd S.M, Olson T.D, Purba A.S, Drummond L.N, Boland M.J, Moughan P.J (2014) Actinidin from kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa cv. Hayward) increases the digestion and rate of gastric emptying of meat proteins in the growing pig. Br J Nutr 111(6):957-67. Recuperado de: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24252432/
- Richardson D.P., Ansell J. y Drummond L.N. (2018) The nutritional and health attributes os kiwifruit: a review. Eur J Nutr 57:2659-2676. Recuperado de: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-018-1627-z#citeas
- European Union. Regulation (CE) 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of December 20, 2006, relative to the nutritional declarations and of healthy properties in foods. Official Journal of the European Union, OJ L404, December 30, 2006, p. 9-25. Retrieved from: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/ES/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A32006R1924
- Wiley J. and Sons Ltd on behalf of European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (2021) Green kiwifruit (lat. Actinidia deliciosa var. Hayward) and maintenance of normal defecation: evaluation of a health claim pursuant to Article 13(5) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal 19(6):6641. Recuperado de: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/6641
- In accordance with Article 32 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005, EFSA shall prepare an annual reporT on pesticide residues concerning the ofﬁcial control activities for food carried out in 2018 Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 imposes on Member States the obligation to carry out controls to ensure that food placed on the market is compliant with the legal limit.