Don't bin the skin of those fruit and veggies -- eating the peel can keep you fighting fit ..Banana peel is an excellent remedy for depression, and protects your retina
I'VE ALWAYS had what you might call a thing for peels. As kids, my mom always insisted that both my sister and I eat our fruits with the peel always. It was the same for vegetables: whenever she cooked bottle gourd (lauki), a separate subzi of its skin, usually combined with sprouts or potatoes, was also served at the same meal.
Similarly, my mom turned bitter gourd peel into a spicy, tangy dry subzi. And when helping her depod peas, both my sister and I would chew the soft peels along with raw peas. We were a peel-eating family through and through.
So as soon as I could, I got on my son's case. But despite trying for years, nothing seems to work on him. He continues to peel and eat his fruit even apples! Though I never questioned my mom's reasoning (`eat the peels as all of the vitamins are near the surface' she would say), I decided to arm myself with some solid information before sitting down to talk to my son.
Here's what I found.
The logic of eating the peel sure applies to citrus fruits. Research done at Purdue University in the United States, published way back in the Journal of Nutrition in 1999, indicates that the monoterpenes in citrus fruit, which are the oils that give oranges and lemons their special smell, may help prevent skin, liver, lung and stomach cancers.
But the catch is that these oils are found mostly in the peel. Plus a study done in 2004 and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry by US and Canadian researchers found that orange and tangerine peels could be better than drugs for lowering cholesterol.
According to researchers, the compounds, called polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs), found in these peels, have the potential to lower cholesterol more effectively than some prescription drugs, and without side effects. Apparently the white pulpy inner peels of the oranges contain herperidin (this compound is also present in the fruits' flesh but in a smaller amount), an antioxidant that besides lowering cholesterol, also helps normalise blood pressure.
Orange peels also contain pectin, a natural appetite suppressant that also helps to normalise blood sugar.
HOW TO EAT THEM: These studies yielded no clues on how to get used to the taste of an orange peel. So here's what you can do add tiny bits of peels as you juice the fruit in a blender; boil them in water and have as orange/lemon peel tea (it's great for insomnia too); dry and powder them and add to cakes and salads; or just chew them bit by bit the taste will grow on you.
The apple's appeal too lies in its peel. We all know that apples pack a wallop of antioxidants (polyphenols), especially vitamin C, for healthy skin and gums. But what is really important to know is that these polyphenols are five times more prevalent in the skin than the flesh of the apples.
In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (May 8, 2007), researchers found that the apple peel may account for the lion's share of the fruits' anti-cancer and antidisease properties.
They analysed the chemical composition of apple peels and identified a group of phytochemicals that work against at least three different types of human cancer cells: breast, colon and liver.
HOW TO EAT THEM: Wash apples well to wash off insecticides. Or buy organic fruit.
GRAPES, BERRIES AND GUAVAS
Thankfully, grapes and blueberries are not peeled and eaten. In an article published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2010, a chemist from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Wallace H Yokoyama and his coinvestigators, reported that hamsters that were fed blueberryenhanced rations (peels and juice byproducts) had from 22 to 27 per cent lower total plasma cholesterol than hamsters fed rations that didn't contain these.
And it's also time to stop discarding guava peels. These peels contain more anti-oxidants (such as anthocyanin pigments) than the pulp or flesh that can potentially fight cancer, ageing, inflammation, and neurological diseases.
HOW TO EAT THEM: Chew into guavas whole, that way you won't be tempted to peel them.
If you are feeling depressed, all you need to do is to peel a banana and eat it. Eat the peel, that is. And you thought that the peel was just fodder for cows and comic situations?
Scientists at Taichung's Chung Shan Medical University, Taiwan claim that an extract of banana peel is not only an excellent remedy for depression, but also protects your retina the bit of the eye that actually `shows' you stuff.
They found that banana peel is richer in serotonin (a hormone vital in balancing moods) than the fruit.
Low levels of serotonin in the brain are believed to cause depression.
Plus the peel contains lutein, an antioxidant from the carotenoid family, which helps the retina cells to regenerate.
HOW TO EAT THEM: Researchers suggested you boil the peel and drink the water a few times a week during the evening.
WATERMELONS AND MORE
Everyone loves the pink flesh of a watermelon but how about its rind?
Experts say that the white part of the rind (between the green and the pink) contains large amounts of citrulline, an amino acid, is rich in vitamin C, beta carotene, and lycopene and also contains smaller amounts of vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
HOW TO EAT THEM: It obviously doesn't taste as good as the pink flesh, so maybe you can juice the rind along with the watermelon flesh and add a little sugar. You can blend it with other fruits in a smoothie, or turn the watermelon rind into a chutney.
But please wash it very very thoroughly to get rid of bacteria, pesticides and dirt. And remember, it is an unfamiliar food, so it might give you an upset tummy.
Similarly, pomegranate rind has double the antioxidants as compared to the fruit, but it's not easily consumed. You could dry it and add to subzis or drink as chai (like orange peel tea).
A popular restaurant in Goa Souza Lobo (which also has a branch in Delhi) has a best-selling dish made of potato peels. Potato peels are loaded with vitamins C and B6, potassium, manganese and copper. So next time you make mashed potatoes, just scrub the potatoes really well and leave the peels on ditto for stews and yes, even french fries. Also, avoid peeling radishes as they are rich in allyl isothiocyanates (which gives a peppery pungent flavour to this root vegetable) and is an antioxidant.
So, next time you make mooli parantha, wash it properly and simply grate along with the peel. Or have some unpeeled, washed radish with some rock salt.
Cucumber peels besides being very high in fibre are also a hidden source of beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A, which is fabulous for your eyes. In the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, people make a tasty cucumber pickle with its peel (see recipe).
by Kavita Devgan