Why You Should Not Peel Your Fruits and Vegetables?
Eat the Fruits in Right WayNutritionists and dieticians often stress on the importance of eating fruits in the ‘right way’. So what exactly is this ‘right way’ of eating fruits and veggies? Almost all experts agree that fruit peels are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, making them in all probability the most nutritious part of the fruit. Whether you consume fruits and vegetables to maintain your health, to stay in shape and fight obesity or to treat other health problems like breathing problems or skin diseases, the importance of including the peels in your dietary intake remains universal. Fruits with tough layered skin may be unpalatable to most in an unpeeled state, as is the case with oranges and pomegranate, but discarding the skin of fruits like apples is pointless. Even when a fruit or vegetable cannot be consumed with its skin, don’t assume that there is no nutrition in the skin. The rind of most citrus fruits like sweet limes and oranges contains much of the nutritional value with an abundance of dietary fiber, and phyto-nutrients. In such cases, the key is to find ways to incorporate them into your diet even if you can’t consume them raw.
Benefits of Fruit PeelsTo illustrate the health benefits of fruit peels it would be a good idea to look at the health and nutritional profile of the skins of just a few of the most widely consumed fruits. Examining just a few of these fruits should make it abundantly clear that discarding fruit peels is unwise:
Rich in Antioxidants: We are often told to eat fruits that have a wide range of colors. While this may seem superficial, it’s a lot more than skin deep! The pigments that lend the skins of these fruits their rainbow colors are also responsible to a large extent for their high nutritional value, as the peels contain a higher concentration of antioxidants as compared to the pulp within. To some extent you can almost say that fruits come color coded, as those with darker shades like purple or blue skins are rich in anthocyanidin glycosides, while those with yellow skins contain carotenes and lutein pigments. Blueberries, grapes, carrots and kiwifruit are just a few such fruits.
Good Source of Fiber: Fruit peels are a particularly good source of insoluble fiber. This type of fiber helps to regulate bowel movements and prevents constipation. Many varieties of fruit peels are especially rich in pectin, which is a soluble fiber that offers a variety of health benefits. Pectin is known to lower cholesterol levels and it also helps regulate blood sugar levels. Along with pectin, other rough dietary fibers like hemi-cellulose also offer some amount of protection from colon cancer. Apple peels are probably the best source of pectin and the peel can even be consumed with the fruit itself.
Low in Calories: Fruit peels should hold a lot of appeal to fitness enthusiasts who wish to stay in shape, as well as to anyone struggling to overcome obesity. Fruit peels contain almost no calories, sugars and fats but their high fiber content bulks up your food making you feel satiated a lot faster and for longer. This helps as it reduces the frequency of food cravings and makes it easier for you to cut down your overall calorie intake.
Vitamin C: Everyone is aware of the importance of Vitamin C for immune function and for boosting your health and most of us are also aware that citric fruits like oranges are the best source of this vitamin. Most people simply discard the rind, however nutritionists state that it is the skin that contains more of the vitamin than the pulp. While the peel provides you with 136mg of Vitamin C per 100gms consumed, the pulp itself will only provide you with 71mg of Vitamin C per 100gms consumed.
Mineral Dense: Fruit peels are also rich in minerals like potassium, manganese, calcium and zinc, among others. Potassium helps to improve heart health by regulating blood flow, calcium is essential for your skeletal health and magnesium is essential for the muscles. As is the case with almost all nutrients, fruits are a good source of minerals, with bananas being especially rich in potassium and magnesium, while avocados are a great source of manganese and phosphorus. As is the case with other fruits banana peels also have a higher concentration of these essential nutrients as compared to the pulp itself.
This presents a challenge, as some fruit peels like those of watermelon, banana and orange are inedible to most people. In such cases however, you don’t need to eat the peels along with the fruit; just don’t discard them. Instead, use the peels to make pickles, boil them along with your rice or vegetables whilst cooking, or for others you can simply include the peels when making smoothies or fruity milk shakes.
Drawbacks in Peeling FruitFruit peels like orange rind, watermelon rind, apple skin, banana peels or mango peels often provide more nutrients and fiber than the fruits they hold. In some cases the fruit skin actually contains twice or thrice as much of the nutritional value as the fruit itself. Obviously, not all of these fruits are edible with the skin, but some fruits like apples, guavas and avocados can be consumed with their skin. In such cases peeling the fruit before consumption is wasteful as it results in a significant loss of nutrients. If you find it hard to consume such fruits with their skin, try and blend the fruit, with the skin included, in a blender or juicer to make smoothies, fruit juices and milk shakes.
Vegetables that should Eat with PeelWhen we prepare salads or cook vegetables many of us peel the skin before preparation, at least for some vegetables. As in the case of fruits, this practice is best avoided as it again results in a loss of nutrients. To give you a better idea, let’s examine a few of the most commonly used vegetables.
Potatoes: Potatoes are often peeled, especially when making mashed potatoes or French fries. Try not to discard the peels however, and instead opt for dishes and recipes that do not require you to peel the potato. Potato skin is rich in potassium, magnesium, iron, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C. While these nutrients are also present in the flesh of the potato many of these nutrients are concentrated in the skin or just beneath the skin. Discarding the skin results in a loss of most of the calcium and iron content. Likewise, sweet potatoes have a high content of beta-carotene that is present mainly in the skin. Beta-carotene is so important as it is converted into Vitamin A through digestion. This helps boost immunity and it is also essential for cellular health.
Onions: There are few people, if any, who would consider the skin of onions to be edible. This said, there is nutritional value to be found in onion skins as well! The papery skin of onions contains plenty of antioxidants and it is also a good source of quercetin, a flavonoids that is believed to be beneficial for heart patients. Quercetin is said to help lower blood pressure and may even help prevent arterial plaque. As the skin itself is inedible, simmer it in broths, soups, stocks and stews to get some additional nutrition and flavor as well.
Eggplant: The eggplant, popularly referred to as the brinjal in Southeast Asia, is a powerhouse of nutrients. A lot of its nutritional value is found in the skin or just beneath the skin, which is why it is important that you do not discard the skin. The antioxidant nasunin gives the vegetable its purple hue and this particular antioxidant has been found to offer protection against the development of cancer, especially cancers that affect the brain and nervous system. The skin of eggplant is also rich in chlorogenic acid, which is an antioxidant. This natural compound is especially beneficial for diabetics as it regulates and slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
Cucumber: This is probably one of the most widely used culinary vegetables in salads across the world. It is generally eaten raw and with the skin, but many people peel off the skin. Avoid doing so as the dark green skin lends the vegetable a lot of its nutritional value. Cucumber’s Vitamin K content is in fact mainly concentrated in the skin, which is also rich in antioxidants, potassium and insoluble fiber.