To peel or not to peel? That is the question on many people’s lips, and it’s not as simple as it might appear.
You might have heard your Grandma say that you should eat your apple peel, or that the goodness of carrots is in the peel.
But you might have also heard that it’s dangerous to eat potato peel when your potatoes aren’t organic. Ditto for other types of root veggies. Or maybe this is new information for you. So is it best to peel or not? Very confusing!
What nutrients do fruit peels contain?
Though it’s not strictly a nutrient, one of the most important nutritional elements in fruit (and vegetable) peels is fibre. We know that fibre is good for us, and an essential part of any weight loss plan and healthy diet. The type of fibre found in peel is insoluble, and help with constipation, cholesterol problems and cancer prevention, too.
Fruit peel is rich in essential oils, too, which give fruits like oranges and lemons their tasty smell, but it also holds vital nutrients. Blueberries, grapes and kumquat all have neutral- or pleasant-tasting peels that are actually full of antioxidants. There are more antioxidants in the peel than in the middle of the fruit, so they are well worth eating every time!
Peels are low in calories, sugar and fats. This is great news for anyone who wants to feel full but not put on weight!
In terms of vitamins and minerals, fruit peel is a great source of vitamin A, the B vitamins, calcium, manganese, selenium and zinc. Orange peel actually contains more vitamin C than orange juice! Curious.
Passion fruit, interestingly, has compound in it which relieves the spasms in the bronchial passages of asthma patients. Try the peel extract if you have asthma.
When shouldn’t we eat them?
Some people have allergic reactions to fruit and veggie peels, and we will talk more about that below. But you shouldn’t eat peels when your fruit and vegetables aren’t organic. This may seem extreme, but some fruits are heavily sprayed with insecticides and other nasties.
It’s your decision when it comes to how far to go with this, but some peels are more dangerous than others. Eat your strawberries organic, and your apples, peaches, nectarines, grapes, celery, spinach, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes, or peel them (this will help somewhat).
What peels do we recommend?
Apple peels (when organic) are very nutritious. The skin contains around half of their fibre. Taking the peel off removes about a third of their goodness, including the potassium, vitamin A and K.
Potatoes also have all their goodness in the peel. We’re talking 17 times more iron, and 7 times more calcium!
If you love sweet potatoes, the same is true. Don’t lose all that beta carotene by removing its nutritious packaging.
The zest or oranges, as mentioned, has twice as much vitamin C as the juicy bit. To take advantage of this, don’t start nibbling it and pulling a face! It’s not easy to eat it that way, but what you can do is microplane (grate) off the top layer of all types of citrus skins and add them to salads, chocolate dishes and ice cream. Mm, that’s more like it.
Cucumber’s peel has most of the antioxidants in it, and more fibre, vitamin K and potassium!
You can actually eat kiwi’s fuzzy coating as it is. It has more flavonoids, antioxidants and vitamin C in it that the flesh, and double the amount of fibre. Try eating your next kiwi like a peach!
Research shows that mango peel is really is worth eating. It has lots of carotenoids, polyphenols, omega oils and other nutrients in it, which help your body fight off cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It’s also palatable.
A note about allergies
Many people that have hay fever, or oral allergy syndrome shouldn’t eat fruit and vegetable skins. If you start to get an itchy mouth, avoid the food that causes the problem and get yourself checked out with an allergy specialist. Canned fruit, peeled fruit and cooked fruits have all been seen to be safer for people with these types of problems.