The other night I was at dinner with friends. The main course: twice-baked potatoes. After emptying out my meal’s tasty innards, I moved onto the shell—the crispy, even tastier potato skin. No one else at the table thought that was a normal thing to do, however, and I continue my defense of the decision here.
Fruit and veggie skins contain a large concentration of the food’s nutrients, but if that wasn’t reason enough to ditch the tedious work of peeling your produce, some skins can taste pretty good too when prepared right.
Here’s why you should rethink what’s weird when it comes to eating produce, and how to reap the benefits of skins you once thought of as inedible.
There’s a brand of chip devoted to the appeal of these skins! Yet, somehow I’m still the weird dinner guest. Potato skin has far more dietary fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamin C that the starchy white innards. 100 grams of the skin has 7 times more calcium and 17 times more iron than 100 grams of flesh. Let’s put it this way. If my friends and I were trapped at sea with nothing but potatoes for sustenance, guess who wouldn’t die of scurvy.
With twice the amount of vitamin C and stronger doses of riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and anti-inflammatory flavonoids, citrus peels will do you far better good in your belly than in the trash. But getting the bitter peel past your teeth is hard to do. It’s hard to digest too. Instead, take advantage of your zester by sprinkling your salads and desserts with flakes of the peel. Additionally, leave the white fluffy stuff (the pith) that’s left over after you peel off the skin. It’s high in fiber.
They’re a pain to peel and that fuzz gets everywhere. Instead of fussing with it, scrub it under water for a moment and eat it like a peach, fuzz-free! Not only is the skin edible, but it’s high in flavonoids, antioxidants, vitamin C, and has twice the amount of dietary fiber than the innards.
These tough shells pack a punch and can be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled, whatever sounds most appealing. It’s worth it to experiment since mango skin has been found to contain properties that aid in weight loss and prevention of heart disease and diabetes. Compared to the flesh, the skin contains larger quantities of carotenoids, polyphenols, and omega-3, omega-6 and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Probably the best and easiest way to enjoy the benefits of watermelon rind is to throw it in the blender with your smoothies. The rind is rich is citrulline, which has been found to benefit the cardiovascular, immune, and circulatory systems.
Pineapples are a daunting fruit for the uninitiated. With all those spines, they’re not exactly approachable. The best way to make the skin palatable is to juice or sauté them along with the flesh, and it’s worth it. The skin and core contain a high concentration of bromelain (40% more than the flesh by weight), which is an enzyme that reduces inflammation.
Rich in fiber, potassium, lutein (for eye health), and tryptophan (which increases serotonin), banana skins are woefully overlooked in the pursuit of health due to its tough consistency and bitter taste. To more easily enjoy it, you can boil it, fry it, or bake it to make it more palatable, or include portions of it in a banana smoothie.
Wash Up and Eat Up
Always remember to wash your produce well before enjoying the skins and have fun experimenting!