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Eating the Peel Can be Good for Your Health

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


In all probability, the first thing you do when eating an orange is remove the peel and chuck it into the trash. Well, you know what? By doing this, you’re missing out on some great nutrients. For example, an orange peel has nearly twice the amount of vitamins as the flesh inside, and though it might sound unappetizing at first, there are plenty of ways you can incorporate orange peels into your diet.

The same can be said for many fruits and vegetables. Here are several foods with nutritious peels that you should be eating, with some suggestions on how you can add them to your diet. However, all commercially grown fruits and vegetables need to be thoroughly scrubbed before eating the peel, including those labeled organic. And, do remember to chew carefully.

Oranges

The peel of an orange packs twice as much vitamin C than the fruit inside. It also has higher concentrations of vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and riboflavin. The peel’s flavonoids have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

As nutritious as orange peels are, you’re probably not going to want to start eating oranges whole as the peel is bitter and hard to digest. Instead, grate the peel and sprinkle it on to of a salad or in a vinaigrette dressing. 

Apples

An apple’s skin contains around half of the apple’s overall dietary fiber content. A medium-sized apple delivers 9 milligrams of vitamin C, 100 IUs of vitamin A, and 200 grams of potassium. By taking off the peel, you lose a third of those nutrients. To add to this, the peel has 4 times more vitamin K than its flesh, about 5% of your daily value. Vitamin K helps to form blood clots when you have a bad cut, and also helps to activate the proteins your body needs for cell growth and healthy bone maintenance.

An apple’s skin also contains the antioxidant quercetin, which can help lung function, ease breathing problems, and protect your lungs from irritants. Furthermore, it’s also believed to be able to fight off brain tissue damage and protect your memory.

Potatoes

A potato’s skin packs more iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C than the rest of the potato. For example, 100 grams of potato peel packs seven times more calcium and 17 times more iron than the same amount of potato flesh. Throw away the skin, and you’ll lose up to 90% of a potato’s iron content and half of its fiber.

Cucumbers

The skin contains most of the cucumber’s antioxidants, insoluble fiber and potassium. It also contains most of the vitamin K. The next time you have a salad, make it with cucumbers.

Kiwis

You’ve probably been spooning out the green flesh from inside your kiwis for years, but this fruit’s fuzzy exterior is also edible. In fact, the skin contains more flavonoids, vitamin C, and antioxidants than the fruit – and double the fiber. So, ditch the spoon, wash the kiwi, and eat it like a peach.

Eggplant

An eggplant’s purple color comes from a powerful antioxidant known as nasunin, which helps to protect against cancer, especially in the brain and other parts of the nervous system. It’s also believed to have anti-aging properties. Eggplant skin is also rich in chlorogenic acid, a phytochemical that boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and promotes glucose tolerance.

Mango

Researchers have found that mango skin contains properties that are similar to Resveratrol, which helps to burn fat and inhibits the production of mature fat cells. Mango flesh was also tested, but this did not produce the same results, which suggests that you need to eat the skin in order to get this beneficial property.

Mango peel also contains larger quantities of polyphenols, omega-3, and polyunsaturated fatty acids than its flesh. Mango skin also contains compounds that fight off cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Mango skin can be eaten raw, or cooked along with the insides. Another way to eat both the flesh and the skin is to pickle the entire mango.

Carrots

Since the skin of a carrot is the same color as what’s beneath it, the peel and its flesh have similar nutritional value. However, the highest concentration of phytonutrients is found in a carrot’s skin or immediately underneath. Just wash the carrot rather than peeling it.

Banana

Banana peel contains a lot more fiber than banana flesh, and is just as rich in potassium. The peel also contains lutein, a powerful antioxidant that plays a key role in maintaining healthy eye function. The amino acid, known as tryptophan, is also more concentrated in the peel than in the flesh. This amino acid helps to ease depression by increasing the body’s levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that affects mood.

Although the peel has a bitter taste and a tough, ropey consistency, an overripe banana becomes thinner, sweeter, and easier to chew. You can also put the peel through a juicer with the rest of the banana. Or, you can boil the peel for several minutes to make it softer, or throw it in the frying pan.

Spencer Thornton, MD