It has once been written about banana peels here. But this time I would like to discuss the topic a bit wider, because not only banana peels are usable. More – edible. Most of the fruits and vegetables peels we throw away can, and should be eaten. And it is not only the environment protection, it is about our health – they are filled with healthy stuff.
Apple, cucumber and tomato
It is nothing special for most of us to eat an apple with its peel. It is a great habit, because the deeper you go into the apple, the less nutrients you get. Numerous scientific studies have shown that eating apples with the peel not only helps to reduce the level of bad cholesterol, but also protects from heart diseases, obesity and diabetes. This is due to two species: ursolic acid, which is also a great nutrient for muscle, and pectin, fiber that fills the stomach. Apple peel contains about 2-6 times more fiber than it is fund in the apple itself. And it still is not everything. Polyphenols, giving the color to the apple, are great antioxidants – protecting us from cancer and aging. Still not convinced? Let me add some vitamins to the list. Medium-sized apple with skin contains approximately 1.5 times more vitamin C and A, there are also considerable amounts of quercetin (improving lung function and memory) and triterpenoids (anti-cancer agents).
What else was not peeled at my house? Tomatoes and cucumbers. It always seemed to me that just my whole family was too lazy to peel them. I could not be more wrong – that way they were taking care of my health. Peels of these fruits are a great source of fiber and vitamins (especially K, improving blond coagulation, bone metabolism and slowing down the growth for some types of cancer). For the tomato the peel is most important during boiling, as it prevents from loosing big part of its nutrients. It is also a great source of potassium, copper and iron.
When it is about vegetables, it is recommended to eat carrot peels. It’s peel and just under it (if you need – peel very thin!) where you can find great amounts of carotene and other phenolic compounds, that are antioxidants and great for your eyes. All you need to do is wash the carrots and cut the ends off. Also eating onion (yes, onion) peel is getting more popular. This paper-like and not really appetizing layer on onion is believed to contain more antioxidants than the entire vegetable inside. It is also rich in quercetin (described above). How to eat it? It could be tough to eat it raw, but adding it to the soup or stew just before serving will make it pretty good.
“Fruit peel” category is dominated by citrus fruits. Orange peel contains remarkable amounts of fiber, but also targretin and nobiletin – anticancer, ant-diabetic and anti-inflammatory flavonoids. Studies showed that these two are also potent to reduce harmful LDL cholesterol levels better than many prescription drugs. Unfortunately, same as for onions, eating citrus fruit peel might not be too pleasant. But try adding it to desserts, cakes, puddings, melted dark chocolate… So tasty (and yet, healthy)! The situation is very similar for lemon peel, which, in addition, contains even more vitamin C, that helps neutralizing free radicals, protects your immune system. Also because of significant amounts of calcium, lemon peel helps us to keep healthy bones and teeth. Every 100 g of lemon peel contains 134 mg calcium, 160 mg potassium, 129 mg viamin C and almost 11 gram of fiber. While lemon without peel contains 26 mg calcium, 138 mg potassium, 53 mg vitamin C and only 2,8 mg of fiber in 100g.
Have the courage
Let’s get back to bananas for a while. Did you know, that their peel is a great source of serotonin, a hormone of happiness? Maybe try it next time you are sad and there is no chocolate around? It also contains lots of potassium and fiber. In some countries, especially Asian cuisine, it is common to bake or boil banana peel. You can also add them to your favorite desserts. According to the cooking recipes fund on-line, we should wait for the fruit to get a bit dark, so the peel is thinner and more delicious.If banana peel is not enough, what about watermelon? The white part of it contains a large dose of vitamins C, B6 and citruline, that will improve your blood circulation. Best mix it with other fruits for a delicious cocktail. Also try other fruit peels, just always remember to wash them first.
Chemistry student at the University of Gdańsk, fascinated with molecular modeling. Nature enthusiast.