After tearless onions and pitless avocado, the “wonder fruit” that has been created is the edible-peel banana. Using a very precise growing and harvesting process, called the “freeze thaw awakening method”, D&T Farms in Japan has managed to grow bananas with a softer, digestible peel that one can bite into.
While the Japanese mongee banana (mongee roughly translates as incredible) is being hailed as a scientific breakthrough, the concept of eating fruits and vegetables unpeeled is not new. However, this may be a good time to take another look at the large concentration of nutrients contained in this outer layer that is often stripped and thrown away.
According to Seema Singh, chief clinical nutritionist at the Fortis Flt Lt Rajan Dhall Hospital in Vasant Kunj, Delhi, “Most nutrients are concentrated in the peels, and trashing them is actually a huge loss.” Varsha Gorey, senior clinical dietitian at Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, adds: “Maximum concentration of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is in the peels or the layer just below. Peels are low in calories, virtually free of fat, cholesterol and sugar.” Cooking also reduces nutrients slightly but not to a large extent. Not eating the peel is actually a mindset issue as one can always chew it, and throw it out if it’s hard to take in.
We asked experts about the seven peels that people should be eating. If you’re worried about pesticide and other contaminant content, wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly with water first, then soak for 10 minutes in a solution of one part vinegar and four parts water, followed by another cold water rinse.
Apple peel is loaded with a compound called quercetin, a flavonoid that improves lung function, immunity and heart health. It also contains ursolic acid, which helps build muscle mass.
Eat it: Don’t peel off the skin of an apple slice.
While orange slices are rich in antioxidants, the peel is loaded with hesperidin, a compound that helps lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. It has another compound called polymethoxylated flavones (popularly known as PMF) that also has the potential to lower cholesterol.
Eat it: Add orange zest to your smoothies, salad, soup and stir-fries. You can even brew tea with it. If you’re making orange juice, add some peels to the juice as you blend the fruit.
Banana peel contains more serotonin, a hormone that helps combat depression and is vital for a happy mood, than the actual fruit. It also contains lutein, an antioxidant that is good for the eyes as it helps the retina cells to regenerate.
Eat it: Cut the peel into small pieces and boil in water for a while. Then strain and drink the water.
Lemon peel is loaded with dietary fibres (made up of compounds like hemicellulose and pectin), which can stabilize blood sugar and act as natural appetite suppressants. Monoterpenes, one of the main constituents of the essential oils that are mostly found in citrus fruit peel, and give the fruits their unique smell, may help prevent various cancers.
Eat it: Grate some lemon peel into a warm water and lemon juice drink for more effective weight control. You can also sun-dry them and add to cakes, etc., or just chew them—the taste will grow on you.
Potato skin is loaded with vitamin C and B6, potassium, manganese and copper. Vitamin C is needed for building immunity, whereas B6 supports the body’s metabolism.
Eat it: Next time you make mashed potatoes or fritters, leave the peels on.
Brinjal skin is loaded with anthocyanin, a naturally occurring pigment belonging to the group of flavonoids that can help combat cancer, ageing and inflammation. Nasunin, an anthocyanin, protects the brain from free radical damage, and boosts and improves memory.
Eat it: Cook brinjals with the skin on.
Allyl isothiocyanates, the antioxidant that gives a peppery, pungent flavour to this root vegetable, are thickly concentrated in the peel. It cuts free radicals in the body and reduces the risk of heart disease and cancers.
Eat it: Next time you make a mooli paratha, wash the root properly and grate it along with the peel. You can also eat unpeeled, washed radish with rock salt.