You may be surprised to know that unpeeled fruits and vegetables may have up to 33% extra fiber than their peeled counterparts.
Fruits and vegetables are an important component of a well-balanced diet and provide the much needed fiber and roughage. We all know that this fiber from fresh produce helps in smooth bowel movement, regulates blood sugar levels, aids is assimilation and absorption of vital nutrients & acts as a prebiotic (food for the friendly gut bacteria). But what is usually discarded is the humble peel that covers the fruit/ vegetable and protects it, till it reaches us intact.
You may be surprised to know that unpeeled fruits and vegetables may have upto 33% extra fiber than their peeled counterparts. And the bioflavonoids and antioxidants may be upto 328 times higher than those found in the flesh. Remember when we talk of dark and brightly coloured fresh produce as a rich source of antioxidants, the colour we see and talk about is usually of the peel. Veggies like eggplant and zucchini are more than 90% water, so most of the fiber, flavonoids, minerals and nutrients are more concentrated in the skin. A common example is grapes.
Mangiferin, the magical anti-diabetic natural polyphenol is found just under the mango peel. No wonder, the holistic way of eating mango by licking it off the peel/eating with hands has it’s own reward.
Peels of citrus fruits like oranges, nectarines and lemons are a flavor bomb in themselves. Add these zests to enliven the flavor of any dessert. Apart from the flavor, citrus peels are a rich source of Vit C and a compound, D-limonene, the magical compound that can help dissolve cholesterol, fight cancer, regulate blood sugar, helps neutralize stomach acid and even supports normal bowel movement. Isn’t that a lot of goodness in the humble peel ?
South Indian culinary habits are famous for minimal wastage of fresh produce. Most households use vegetable peels from ridge gourd, pumpkin, carrot peels etc. mixed with sesame seeds, nuts, green leafy veggies to make chutneys, known as pachadi in local language.
Most of the fruits like apricot, peach, plum, apple, grapes have edible peels. Veggies like eggplant, squash, beetroot, bell peppers, parsnips, turnips, carrots, cucumbers, sweet potato, potato have edible skins. Avoid eating potato with green patches on the skin. However, some peels may be difficult to digest. Foods like lychee, melons, pineapple, papaya, mango, banana. Such peels can be used as fodder for cattle or put in compost.
Avocados, onions and garlic should always be peeled. The avocado specially, just like mango should be peeled very thinly. The flesh just beneath the skin is loaded with Vit B 12, Vit E, beta carotene.
For hard skinned fruits and vegetables, one should wash and scrub to help remove the pesticide residue. You can remove a whopping 41% of pesticide residue merely by washing your fresh produce in tap water for 2 minutes. Thereafter you can soak them in baking soda solution for 2 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 2-3 cups of water.
Avoid buying fruits and vegetables that have been waxed to extend their shelf life. Common examples are apples, cucumbers, brinjals, bell peppers, pumpkins, tomatoes, and sweet potato. Fruits like berries, grapes and plums naturally make their own wax which can be rinsed off easily in water. What makes farmers’ markets so popular among health aficionados is the organic and unwaxed produce.
So, next time you peel your vegetables, make sure you use them to add more nutrition to your food instead of feeding the bin.
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