Eat skins and peels for better health
The peel and skin of some of our favourite foods have some pretty a-peeling health benefits.
Mango peel's bioactive phytochemicals were recently linked to warding off obesity. A study found that extracts of the peel from Kensington Pride mangoes inhibited adipogenesis (the formation of fat), while the fruit’s flesh failed to put the brakes on fat generation.
Seafood lovers who eat their prawns unshelled may be slimmer and have better heart health than those hogging the finger bowl. Prawn shells contain soluble dietary fibre chitosan, which slows digestion and limits fat absorption. A wrap-up of 14 studies suggested that chitosan outdoes placebos in short-term treatment of overweight and obesity.
Who knew? That thick, pale stem has more calcium and Vitamin C than the dark buds up top.
The oils in citrus fruit peels may help to prevent skin, liver, lung and stomach cancers, suggests research at Purdue University, published in the Journal of Nutrition. The soft, white pith has loads of good-for-you pectin – a natural appetite suppressant that helps to normalise blood sugar and lower cholesterol. In fact, Canadian researchers found that tangerine peels could be an alternative to prescription medications for lowering cholesterol.
If apples won an Oscar, they’d thank polyphenols for their nomination as antioxidant powerhouses. But hold the cute monkey peeler (kitchen must-haves on p.31) – polyphenols are five times more prevalent in apple skin than flesh. The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests the peel accounts for the lion’s share of an apple’s anti-cancer and anti-disease properties.
There is twice as much bromelain in the core as the sweet part, meaning pineapple centres are more likely to aid digestion and may increase antibiotic absorption, according to the National Institute of Health. The tropical staple also contains a truckload of fibre and vitamin C. Add some core to smoothies and juices.
The tough skin has six different antioxidants, so next time you’re making your famous napoli sauce, skip the fiddly peeling and toss it in whole.
Bye-bye bangers and mash, hello baked potato. Leave the skin on a single spud and get half your recommended daily intake of fibre, potassium, iron, zinc and vitamin C.
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