Without a doubt, eating more fruits and vegetables can benefit your health. However, it is often debated whether these fruits and vegetables are best consumed with or without skin. Shells are often discarded by preference, habit or in an attempt to reduce exposure to pesticides. However, removing the peels can cause the elimination of one of the richest nutrient parts of fruits or vegetables. This article takes a look at the scientific opinion to determine whether fruit and vegetable peels should be discarded or not.
The Shells are Full of Nutrients:
The shells are full of beneficial nutrients. The amounts of nutrients they contain vary depending on the type of fruit or vegetable. However, in general terms, products that are not peeled contain higher amounts of vitamins, minerals and other beneficial compounds from plants, compared to their peeled products. In fact, a raw apple with skin contains up to 332% more vitamin K, 142% more vitamin A, 115% more vitamin C, 20% more calcium and up to 19% more potassium than a peeled apple. Similarly, a boiled potato with skin can contain up to 175% more vitamin C, 115% more potassium, 111% more folate and 110% more magnesium and phosphorus than a peeled one. Vegetable peels also contain significantly more fiber and antioxidants . For example, up to 31% of the total amount of fiber in a vegetable can be found on your skin. In addition, antioxidant levels can be up to 328 times higher in fruit peels than in pulp. Therefore, eating unpeeled fruits and vegetables can really increase nutrient intake.
Summary: Fruit and vegetable peels are rich in various nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Consumption of the shell with the pulp can increase the total intake of these nutrients.
The Shells Help You Feel Fuller for Longer:
Fruit and vegetable peels can reduce hunger and help you feel full longer. This is due in large part to its high fiber content. While the exact amount of fiber varies, fresh fruits and vegetables can contain up to a third more fiber before the outer layers are removed. Several studies show that fiber can help you feel fuller for longer. Fiber can do this by physically stretching the stomach, reducing the rate at which it empties or influencing the rate at which full hormones are released in the body. In fact, research shows that the type of fiber found in fruits and vegetables, a type known as viscose fiber, can be especially effective in reducing appetite.
“Fiber also serves as food for friendly bacteria that live in the intestine”.
When these bacteria feed on fiber, they produce short-chain fatty acids, which seem to further increase the feeling of fullness. A review reported that participants in 32 of 38 studies experienced an increase in satiety after the increase in fiber intake. In addition, several studies have observed that fiber-rich diets tend to reduce hunger and, therefore, the number of calories consumed per day, which can lead to weight loss. Therefore, unpeeled fruits and vegetables can help reduce appetite and even lose weight.
Summary: Due to their high fiber content, fruit and vegetable peels can help reduce hunger and keep you fuller for longer.
Shells Can Help Prevent Some Diseases:
Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which are beneficial compounds for plants that can reduce the risk of various diseases. Simply put, the main function of antioxidants is to combat unstable molecules known as free radicals. When free radical levels become too high, they can cause oxidative stress, which can ultimately damage cells and potentially increase the risk of disease. In fact, researchers believe that antioxidants can help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Certain antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables have also been linked to a lower risk of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Fruits and vegetables are naturally rich in antioxidants, but according to research, antioxidants are more concentrated in the outer layer. In one study, the removal of a peach’s skin resulted in a 13-48% reduction in antioxidants. In another study, antioxidant levels were up to 328 times higher in fruit and vegetable peels, compared to their pulps. Therefore, if you want to maximize your intake of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, you should eat them without peeling.
Summary: Eating unpeeled fruits and vegetables can result in a higher intake of antioxidants. This can help fight free radical damage and ultimately reduce the risk of certain diseases.
Some Shells are Difficult to Clean or Inedible:
Certain fruit or vegetable peels can be difficult to consume or simply inedible. For example, avocado peels and sweet melon are considered edible, regardless of whether they are consumed cooked or raw. Other fruit and vegetable peels, such as pineapple, melon, banana, onion and celery turnip, may have a hard texture that is difficult to chew and digest. In general, these shells are removed and not eaten. In addition, although some vegetable shells are considered edible, they should not be eaten raw. Some examples are winter squash and pumpkin peels, which are best consumed after cooking so that the peels soften. In addition, citrus fruits also have hard and bitter skins that can be difficult to consume raw. In general, they are best consumed as peel or cooked, or simply discarded. Some fruit and vegetable peels, although completely edible, may have a bitter taste or be coated with a layer of wax or dirt that can be particularly difficult to clean. If the idea of eating these fruits and vegetables with skin makes you not want to eat them, it is best to peel them than stop eating them.
Summary: Certain shells may not be edible, difficult to digest, difficult to clean or hard textured. In such cases, the shells can be removed.
Shells May Contain Pesticides:
Pesticides are commonly used to reduce crop damage and increase yield. Contrary to popular belief, pesticides can be found in both organic and conventional fruits and vegetables. Although some pesticides enter the pulp of fruits and vegetables, many remain confined in the outer shell. Washing is a good way to get rid of pesticide residues that are loose on the skin’s surface. However, peeling them is the best way to eliminate pesticides that have leaked into the skin of fruits and vegetables. For example, a recent review reports that about 41% of pesticide residues found in fruits were removed by washing with water, while up to double was eliminated by peeling. For many people who are worried about being exposed to pesticides, this may be a good reason to eat only the pulp of all fruits and vegetables. Those who are particularly concerned about their pesticide intake can consult the report of The Environmental Working Group (EWG), which classifies pesticide contamination levels in 48 popular fruits and vegetables in the United States. However, the risk of consuming a little more pesticides does not necessarily outweigh the benefit of the greatest amount of nutrients in the skin. It is worth bearing in mind that the amount of pesticides allowed in fresh foods is strictly regulated. The upper limits allowed are very conservative and much lower than the lowest dose known to cause harm to humans. In addition, pesticide levels exceed the allowed limits in less than 4% of cases, and even when they do, research shows that this rarely damages humans. Therefore, although removing the skin from vegetables can remove a little more pesticide than washing, the difference is likely to be too small to worry.
Summary: Pesticide levels in fresh produce are strictly regulated. Although peeling fruits and vegetables seems to be a slightly more effective way to eliminate pesticides than just washing them, the difference is too small to make a real difference.
What Shells Can Be Eaten?
Some shells are safe for consumption, while others may not be. The lists below provide summaries of common fruits and vegetables that must be peeled and that do not have to be peeled:
- Citrus fruits ( grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, etc.)
- Tropical fruits (banana, lychee, pineapple, papaya, mango, etc.)
- Hard Winter Squash
- Citrus fruits (grated or cooked)
- Green peas
Summary: Some fruits and vegetables, such as pineapples, garlic and melons, peel better. Others, such as apples, eggplants and plums, are best consumed with peels.
The husks are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which makes them one of the most nutritious parts of a plant. Naturally, some fruits and vegetables have difficult peels that can be difficult to clean, difficult to digest, bitter in taste or simply inedible. These shells are better eliminated and not eaten. However, most shells are edible. Therefore, it may be better to try to eat fruits and vegetables without peeling whenever possible.