9 Times You Should Eat Fruit & Vegetable Skins

sliced eggplant on cutting boardMost of the time, our garbage is filled with skins and peels from our favorite fruits and vegetables, but you could be throwing out some of the best part of those foods. Skins may be tough, but here are the skins you should and should not eat.

When NOT to Eat the Skin

Onion: Although eating onion skin generally isn’t a good idea, it does contains quercetin, so I’d suggest using it in stocks.

Banana: Banana peel has a bitter taste and tough consistency but contains potassium, lutein (a powerful antioxidant for eye health) and tryptophan (that increases your body’s serotonin, which improves mood). If you want to try banana peel, here are some tips: use very ripe peels; use a small amount in your smoothie; or boil it for a few minutes, then sauté or bake in the oven until it dries out to use as a tea.

Asparagus: The skin on asparagus doesn’t contain any additional nutritional benefits over the flesh, but it can leave behind a stringy texture. So purely from a culinary perspective, I’d suggest peeling the skin if you have the time to peel each stalk individually.

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When to Eat the Skin (If Organic)
Cucumber: This veggie’s dark-green skin contains the majority of antioxidants, insoluble fiber and potassium. If a cucumber has a heavy waxed coating and pesticides, you may consider peeling.

Zucchini: The skin of zucchini contains extra vitamin C, fiber and potassium, as well as the antioxidants carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. Although the flavor is a bit bitter, if you’re cooking them or mixing them with other flavors (e.g. in a salad) it’s worth it to keep the skin on.

Apple: Apple peel contains most of the fruit’s insoluble fiber, an antioxidant called quercetin and other antioxidants.

Red Skin Potato: Ounce for ounce, potato skin has more fiber, iron, potassium, B vitamins and vitamin C than the flesh.

Kiwi: Kiwi skin is probably one skin that most of us do not eat, but it IS edible! The skin contains more flavonoids, antioxidants and vitamin C than the flesh. If the fuzz grosses you out, scrape it off first.

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Eggplant: An eggplant’s purple hue comes from a powerful antioxidant called nasunin, which helps protect against cancerous development, especially in the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Nasunin is also believed to have anti-aging properties.

Eggplant skin is also rich in chlorogenic acid, a phytochemical that boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and also promotes glucose tolerance. Although the eggplant interior contains chlorogenic acid, it’s much more prevalent in the skin.

Oranges: The peel of an orange packs in twice as much vitamin C as what’s inside. It also contains higher concentrations of riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and potassium. The peel’s flavonoids have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. (Citrus fruit also boosts iron absorption.)

As nutritious as citrus peels are, you’re unlikely to start eating oranges whole. The entire peel is bitter and difficult to digest. Instead, grate the peel using a microplane or another tool and sprinkle it on top of salads, or in a vinaigrette dressing. Citrus shavings make a good pairing with ice cream and chocolate as well.

Carrot: Most of the nutrients, carotene and various antioxidants in carrots are in or just below the skin. Just scrub, cut off ends, and eat!

Squash: It may seem like all squash have a super hard skin, but you can bake most varieties with the skin on and…