Every time you peel a fruit or vegetable and throw away the skin, you’re tossing aside some of Mother Nature’s best medicine.
“Assuming that nature is smarter than us, and our bodies are designed to live off what grows naturally, it makes sense to eat the edible skin of many plants, like apples, lemons, carrots, and even beets,” says Michelle Pfennighaus, the nutrition coach behind FindYourBalance.com.
But what about the peels we overlook because they’re tough or textured? Yep, eat those too. If the outer skin is prickly, Pfennighaus suggests scraping along the inside to get the goodness. Still too difficult to digest? There’s always boiling, steaming, and stir-frying, she says.
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So, put away your peeler and stop sending skins to the scrap heap. It’s time to put the “whole” in “whole food.” Here’s where to start.
Like its good friend, the carrot, mango skin is flush with beta-carotene. Mangos also have more polyphenols and omega-3, omega-6, and polyunsaturated fatty acids in their peel than their flesh. In fact, researchers in Queensland, Australia, found that that the skin of this succulent fruit contains properties similar to resveratrol, which burns body fat. In other words, mangos can be one of your go-to fitness foods.
__How to eat the skin: __Consume it raw or blend with other green vegetables in a superfood smoothie.
Onions & Garlic
Most people shuck the papery skin of these vegetables, along with the outer layers, roots, and stalks. However, a study in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition found that these parts contain gobs of dietary fiber and flavonoids.
__How to eat the skin: __Save the scraps in a ziploc bag and stir them into stocks for an added healthy kick.
Banana peels are packed with vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, which is ideal for relieving muscle aches and easing anxiety, says Pfennighaus.
“Magnesium deficiency can also contribute to light or easily disturbed sleep,” she says. “If you find yourself waking multiple times throughout the night, a cup of banana tea is the perfect solution.”
How to eat the skin: Boil ¼ to ½ banana including the peel in one cup of water for approximately 10 minutes. Drink, go to bed, and let the sleep times roll.
Fine, stop eating when you get to the rind, but then set it aside. The skin is a natural source of citrulline, an amino acid with antioxidant properties. Purdue University research has shown it can help boost heart health and reduce weight gain.
__How to eat the skin: __Stir-fried or pickled, rinds can be added to gazpachos and chutneys or chopped into pieces and juiced.
Gnawing on corn husk provides little nutritional value. But think twice before shaking off the stringy layer between husk and cob. Corn silk, as it’s known, is rich in vitamin K and potassium, say food scientists.
In fact, it’s already used to ease a wide range of health issues from urinary tract infections and kidney stones to high blood pressure and cholesterol. A 2009 study in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism found that corn silk tea helps manage diabetes because it promotes insulin generation.
How to eat the skin: Boil the silk for 3 to 5 minutes with water and lemon juice to make a tea. Let it steep, then drink.