The Various Methods of Using Peel in Food

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To peel or not to peel? That’s the (not so simple) question. Naked Lunch: The Power of the Peel The Power of the Peel We all know the benefits of eating lots of fruits of veggies. But guess what? You may be peeling away the most nutritious part of the plant. Peels are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; they can also make you feel full longer—a perk for the waistline. Eating the peel is also purely practical—it saves a lot of valuable time. So toss that peeler and discover a healthier, simpler way to eat your produce. First things First: Wash it Well Even if you’re eating organic, a good wash is always necessary—even organic fruit and veggies are treated with pesticides. First: Run your produce under cold running water while gently scrubbing it. The USDA says this is enough to remove dirt and bacteria, and drying the produce with a clean paper towel or cloth will help, too. Scrub firm items such as carrots, turnips, parsnips or beets with a good brush. Don’t use soap or bleach to clean your food, because you’ll run the risk of ingesting those. Also cut away any damaged or bruised areas, because bacteria can thrive in those places. 8 fruits and vegetables with amazing health benefits—right in the skin. Potatoes Yes, the potato is a carb, and frying it or filling it with bacon, sour cream and cheese takes away most of its benefits. But with the skin on, the humble potato is transformed into something more vegetable like. 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. You’ll get four grams of fiber from a whole, average-sized baked potato, around 15 percent of the recommended daily value.

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The skin also helps the flesh of the potato maintain its nutrients. Sans-skin? You’ll lose up to 90 percent of a potato's iron content and half of its fiber. Sweet Potatoes Sweet potatoes are ranked as the top nutritional vegetable by the Center for Science in the Public Interest—and the skins add even more nutrients. Sweet potato skins contain nearly half the daily recommended amount of vitamin C you need. The skin is super high in fiber—a serving of sweet potato baked in the skin provides more fiber than a serving of oatmeal. Skins are also loaded with beta carotene, vitamin E and folate, and are rich in potassium and iron. Especially for those who do not eat meat, the iron found in sweet potato skins is an important nutrient. Just give it a good scrub before baking. Mango Every noticed that monkeys eat mangos whole? They know something we don’t: mango skin is packed with antioxidants like mangiferin, norathyriol, and quercetin, types of anti-aging antioxidants that help fight free radical damage and even cancer. Recent studies have also shown that some compounds in the mango skin help fight some metabolic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. And mango can also help your weight: Researchers found that mango fruit peel works similarly to resveratrol, a compound found in red wine that helps burn fat and inhibits the production of mature fat cells. Try blending whole mango into a smoothie, or dry the skin into fruit chips. Word of warning: beware of a not-uncommon allergic skin reaction, known as “mango itch” in Hawaii. Kiwi You’ve probably been spooning out the green flesh inside for years, but a kiwi’s hairy skin is completely edible and makes this nutrient-dense fruit even more nutritious. In fact, the skin contains more flavonoids, antioxidants, vitamin E and vitamin C than the insides—and double the fiber.

A recent study shows that eating the skin triples the fiber intake compared to merely eating the flesh. And by not peeling the skin, you preserve much of the vitamin C content as well. So ditch the spoon, wash the kiwi and eat it like a peach. If you find the fuzz unappetizing, scrape it off first. Eggplant The poor eggplant has its share of haters. But not only is the eggplant extremely nutritious (and delicious, when properly prepared), its skin is super good for you. The purple hue comes from an antioxidant called nasunin—present in many fruits and vegetables with red, blue and purple hues—which helps protect against cancer, especially in the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Nasunin is also believed to have anti-aging properties. Roast it, grill it, or, if you must, fry it—and enjoy. Oranges Like so many other fruits, much of the citrus sinensis’ nutrition is in the peel. Orange peel has more fiber than the fruit inside. It also has flavonoids that are known to have antihypertensive and anti-inflammatory properties, which relieve pressure on the heart. The peel of an orange packs in twice as much vitamin C as its flesh, contains higher concentrations of riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and potassium, and has shown to have cancer-fighting properties too. It’s even good for allergies: The chemicals in orange peel have been shown to calm the histamine response in the body, making it valuable in relieving the experience of itchy nose and watery eyes.

Can’t stomach the skin? Try zesting it and adding it to your favorite recipes. Squash: Many types of squash have super hard and inedible skin, but many more—including delicata, acorn and sweet dumpling squashes—have softer skin, and can be baked and then eaten with the skin, which is loaded with vital antioxidants. Acorn squash skin provides an array of phytonutrient benefits plus fiber. One way to prepare it is to roast halves with their skin and eat the skin with the flesh; it adds texture, color and overall meal appeal. Banana Even for the most nutritionally adventurous, it’s hard to imagine eating a banana peel—despite the fact that the peel is a good source of vitamin B6 and B12, potassium and magnesium, a nutrient that 68% of Americans don’t get enough of. Try throwing a couple of very ripe bananas—skin and all—into a blender for a yummy smoothie. For a more edible version of the banana peel look out for the new crop of sweeter bananas from D&T Farm in Japan, which have thin, edible peels that lets you bite right into the fruit the way you would an apple or pear (or kiwi?). It’s called the Mongee, slang for “incredible” in Japanese. Unfortunately, Mongees are only sold in western Japan, and are in short supply—and they sell about $6 a piece. It’s hard to say whether this reimagined fruit will catch on in Japan or elsewhere. In the meantime, keep your blender in good working order.

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