It’s true. Citrus fruits, apples, grapes, and tomatoes all have amazing antioxidant properties in their skins!
(Think of antioxidants as the “clean up crew” in your body, using their resources to counteract the damaging effects of poor nutrition, pollution, stress, and just plain old living.)
On top of that, it is the peels of vegetables and fruits that contain the most fiber, which is key for moving food through your digestive system, healthy elimination and protection from colon cancer.
12 Power-Packed Vegetables and Fruits Peels
There are many benefits of banana peels. Banana peels contain vitamins B6 and B12, magnesium, and potassium. The peel also contains more fiber than the banana flesh, which can help aid digestion. Another benefit of banana peels is that they contain tryptophan, which can increase your serotonin levels, which researchers have found impacts your mood. Having good blood serotonin levels can help reduce the risk of depression due to this mood-stabilizing effect.
If you’re brave, you can eat a banana peel raw. For the rest of us, boil the peel for a few minutes, then blend it into a smoothie with other fruits.
What makes tomato peels so healthy is actually what gives them their red color, lycopene, Lycopene is a super-efficient antioxidant found primarily in cooked tomatoes. It is linked to a consistently lower risk of cancer, and lycopene fights the cell damage that causes degenerative diseases like heart disease, premature aging, cancer and cataracts.
Since the skin of a carrot is the same color as what’s directly beneath it (like a tomato or a red pepper), the peel and its flesh have similar nutritional properties. However, the highest concentration of phytonutrients is found in a carrot’s skin or immediately underneath. Just rinse the carrot thoroughly rather than peeling it.
The papery skin contains more antioxidants than the onion itself. It’s especially rich in quercetin, which may reduce blood pressure and prevent arterial plaque.
Simmer in stocks, soups, and stews for additional flavor; discard the skins before serving.
The peel contains more than four times as much fiber as the fruit inside, and more tangeretin and nobiletin—flavonoids with anticancer, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2004 study on animals suggests that these nutrients may even reduce harmful LDL cholesterol better than some prescription drugs.
The problem, of course, is that orange peels don’t taste as good as the fruit itself. To avoid the bitter taste, break off a piece of orange peel, grate it, and sprinkle it onto your salads or vegetables. This orange zest can enhance any dish, and even tastes good mixed into cookies or cake.
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. For example, 100 grams of potato peel packs seven times more calcium and 17 times more iron than the same amount of potato flesh. Ditch the skin and you’ll also lose up to 90 percent of a potato’s iron content and half of its fiber.
Red grapes have some wonderful health benefits, but make sure to choose organic, if you can, because pesticides are easily absorbed in grapes.
Resveratrol is a phytochemical found in the highest concentrations in the skin of red grapes.
Researchers believe that it has powerful antioxidant capabilities and can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol as well as reduce your risk for heart disease. Other studies show that resveratrol inhibits damage caused by exposure to the heavy metal cadmium.
Apple peels contain 87% more cancer-fighting phytochemicals than the apple itself, and apple peel is considerably tastier than orange or kiwi peel, so there’s really no excuse to miss out on the health benefits of apple peel.
Next time you want a snack, choose a cucumber—and don’t peel it. Cucumber peels contain silica, a chemical that helps build collagen, which is vital for making your skin last longer than ever. Even one cucumber peel—which is about five milligrams of silica—will make a difference. Make sure to wash cucumber peels carefully, and if you can afford it, buy organic, because non-organic cucumbers in particular are coated with wax to make them last longer.
Luckily, the health benefits of watermelon peel are not the hard, green peel itself—the health benefits of this fruit peel lies in the white rind that you probably leave behind when you’re done munching on a watermelon slice. Don’t forget to eat the white rind, because it contains the amino acid citruline, which helps dilate blood vessels to improve your body’s circulation.
If you’ve never tried kiwi peel, now’s the perfect time. This fuzzy peel contains chemicals that are known for fighting infections like E. coli and Staphylococcus (staph infection). Instead of eating it raw and whole, peel the kiwi and mix it into your smoothie. You can also try cutting kiwi peel into very thin slices and adding it to your salad or vegetable stir fry.
Researchers found that mango skin contains properties similar to resveratrol, which helps burn fat and inhibits the production of mature fat cells. Mango flesh extracts were also tested, but did not produce the same results, which suggests that one needs to eat mango skin in order to get this beneficial property.