You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables
In all likelihood, the first thing you do when you eat an orange is tear off that thick peel and throw it straight into the garbage. Guess what? You’re missing out on a lot of nutrients. The peel of an orange has nearly twice as much vitamin C as the flesh inside. And though it may seem gross at first, there are plenty of tasty ways you can eat orange peels if you’re willing to get a little creative.
The same is true of lots of fruits and veggies; the peel is often the most nutritious part, and can be eaten despite what you think. Bananas? Yep. Watermelon? Sounds unbelievable, but it’s true: that rind is great for you. Here are 12 foods with powerful peels you should be eating, along with suggestions for how to add them to your diet.
The skin of an apple contains about half of the apple’s overall dietary fiber content. A medium apple also delivers 9 milligrams of vitamin C, 100 IUs of vitamin A, and 200 grams of potassium. By removing the peel, you lose about a third of those nutrients. The peel also has four times more vitamin K than its flesh; about 5 percent of your daily value. Vitamin K—also prevalent in meat and in spinach and other green veggies—helps you form blood clots that patch you up when you have a bad scrape and helps activate the proteins your body needs for cell growth and healthy bone maintenance.
An apple’s skin boasts potential benefits beyond its vitamin content. An antioxidant called quercetin, found mostly in the apple’s skin, can help lung function, ease breathing problems and protect your lungs from irritants. Quercetin is also believed to fight off brain tissue damage and protect your memory.
A potato’s skin packs more nutrients—iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C—ounce-for-ounce 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. Ditch the skin and you’ll also lose up to 90 percent of a potato’s iron content and half of its fiber.
And don’t forget the skin of a sweet potato is loaded with a significant amount of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A during digestion. Vitamin A is essential for cell health and immune system regulation, and it is extremely useful in maintaining organ function.
Citrus (Oranges, Lemons, Grapefruits, Limes)
The peel of an orange packs in twice as much vitamin C as what’s inside. It also contains higher concentrations of riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and potassium. The peel’s flavonoids have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. (Citrus fruit also boosts iron absorption.)
As nutritious as citrus peels are, you’re unlikely to start eating oranges whole. The entire peel is bitter and difficult to digest. Instead, grate the peel using a microplane or another tool and sprinkle it on top of salads, or in a vinaigrette dressing. Citrus shavings make a good pairing with ice cream and chocolate as well.
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