Instead, let's unlock the nutritional power of the skins of our fruits and veggies.
Eating fruits and vegetables is an essential part of maintaining a healthy diet. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibre, they provide numerous health benefits. But did you know that many of these nutritious benefits are hidden in the skins of these foods? I’m not sure when it became “in vogue” to peel everything, perhaps for presentation, for ease of cooking, or we didn’t think the skins had any nutritional value.
Elevating Fibre Intake
One of the primary benefits of eating fruit and veggie skins is the increased fibre intake, a crucial nutrient for promoting digestive health. Canadian dietary guidelines recommend daily information on fibre to maintain overall well-being. The skins of fruits and vegetables can help you meet this requirement. For instance, the skin of apples is rich in fibre, providing approximately four grams per medium-sized apple.
Harnessing Antioxidant Power
Fruit and veggie skins also boast high levels of antioxidants, essential for protecting the body against damage caused by free radicals. These free radicals can contribute to chronic diseases. In Canada, where heart disease is a significant health concern, antioxidants are precious. For example, blueberries, a staple in our diets, contain a high concentration of anthocyanins in their skins, potent antioxidants that may reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease.
Vitamin and Mineral Bounty
Many fruit and veggie skins are also abundant sources of vitamins and minerals. Take the skin of a potato, a Canadian dietary staple containing more potassium than the flesh. Potassium is vital for regulating blood pressure and maintaining heart health. Additionally, the skin of a kiwi is rich in vitamin C and is known for its immune-boosting properties. Moreover, cucumber skin contains silica essential for healthy skin and hair. I thought my father was odd for not peeling his kiwi, but now I realize he was onto something.
Choosing the Right Skins to Eat
While many fruit and veggie skins are edible and nutritious, some should be avoided. For instance, avocado skins are not edible and may contain harmful substances that can upset the stomach. Similarly, mango skins are tough and fibrous, making them difficult to digest.
Here are some examples of fruits and vegetables with edible and beneficial skins:
The peel of an apple contains more fibre and vitamins than the fruit itself. It can help prevent cholesterol buildup in your blood vessels and contains quercetin, an antioxidant that promotes brain and lung health.
The dark green skin of cucumbers contains essential nutrients like potassium, fibre, antioxidants, and vitamin K, which support bone health and blood clotting. However, if the cucumber is heavily waxed or not organic, it's best to peel it before consumption.
The skin of an eggplant, especially in darker varieties like purple eggplants, is a rich source of antioxidants. These antioxidants help protect cells from damage and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
While the skin of a kiwi may be fuzzy and challenging, it contains more antioxidants, flavonoids, and vitamin C than the flesh. If you do not like the fuzz, scrape it or brush it off before eating.
Orange peels contain twice the amount of vitamin C as the fruit itself, along with vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and riboflavin. They can be challenging to digest and taste bitter, so consider using a grater to make orange zest for salads or desserts or keeping them on if tossing them into a smoothie.
The skin of a potato is a rich source of fibre and essential nutrients like vitamins B and C, potassium, calcium, and iron. These nutrients support overall health, digestion, and heart health, making them valuable to mashed or baked potatoes.
The fuzzy skin of a peach is packed with antioxidants and vitamins that can support eye health and prevent cataracts. It also contains dietary fibre and vitamin A. Opt for organic peaches and wash the skin thoroughly for optimal health benefits.
Surprisingly, the rind of a watermelon is edible and filled with nutrients. Watermelon rind contains an amino acid called citrulline, which may help reduce muscle soreness. While eating the skin raw might not appeal to everyone, it can be pickled, juiced, blended or stir-fried for a unique and healthy addition to your diet.
Though zucchini peels may taste slightly bitter, they are incredibly nutritious, containing fibre, potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants like lutein, carotenoids, and zeaxanthin. You can enjoy the benefits of zucchini peels by incorporating them into salads or cooking them with other ingredients.
Remember to wash these fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove any dirt, bacteria, or pesticides before enjoying their skin's nutritional benefits. Incorporating these nutrient-rich skins into your diet can support your overall health, digestion, and immune system, making it a worthwhile addition to your meal plan.
Eating fruit and veggie skins is an easy way to increase your daily intake of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are essential for maintaining good health. So, the next time you reach for an apple or a carrot, consider eating the skin, too. Your body will thank you for it!