Hold that peeler! Your first instinct might be to strip the skin off a fruit or vegetable before eating it or cooking with it. But do that, and you could end up missing out on valuable nutrition.
Believe it or not, the outer layers of many fruits and vegetables are actually loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds, some of which you won’t find inside of the fruit or vegetable itself.
Here are 5 types of produce that are always better to eat unpeeled. Plus, no-fail ideas for making them delicious—skin and all.
An unpeeled apple packs twice as much fiber, 40% more vitamin A, and 25% more potassium than its peeled counterpart. The peel is also rich in ursolic acid, a compound that studies suggest can support healthier blood sugar levels and boost calorie burning.
Try this: Adding red apple peels to applesauce delivers a nice nutrition bump and adds a pretty pink color. Of course, you can always snack on a whole apple out of hand, too.
The crunchy orange veggie contains polyacetylenes, compounds that are shown to boast antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and even anticancer properties. But because polyacetylenes are concentrated near carrots’ surface, peeling can strip most of them away.
Try this: Carrot peels are super thin, so recipes made with unpeeled carrots probably won’t taste much different than recipes made with peeled ones. But if you really want to scrape off the skins, save them and use them in this carrot peel pesto.
In the world of vegetables, potatoes aren’t known for being particularly nutritious. Keep the skin on your spud, though, and you’ll reap an extra gram of fiber, an extra milligram of iron, and 157 extra milligrams of potassium. Just be sure to scrub your potato thoroughly to dislodge any stuck-on dirt first.
Try this: Rub the outside of potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper before baking to make the skins extra crispy. Or, leave the skin on mashed potatoes for a more rustic texture.
Sure, you might add a little bit of lemon zest to your vinaigrette or pasta. But the whole peel? It might be worth trying. Turns out, essential oils found in the peels of citrus fruits are a rich source of antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols. They boast antimicrobial and anticancer properties, too.
Try this: Thin slices and a little bit of heat are the keys to mellowing out lemon peel’s strong flavor and making it delicious. Try topping pizza with paper-thin rounds of lemon, or searing lemon slices with chicken.
That deep purple color? It comes from nasunin, an antioxidant that’s part of the anthocyanin family. Anthocyanins have been shown to help lower levels of LDL, or bad, cholesterol, so keeping those skins on your eggplant could be helpful for your heart health.
Try this: Try unpeeled eggplant in slow-cooking recipes like stuffed eggplant. The longer the skin is cooked for, the softer and sweeter it gets.