Eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables may lower your risk for heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, vision problems and digestive problems. The benefits of eating fruits and vegetables are even higher if you eat their skins, as long as the skins are edible.
The skins of fruits and vegetables contain fiber, vitamins and phytonutrients, including antioxidants. Eating the skin helps increase the amount of these nutrients that you consume each day. Next time you eat a potato, apple, carrot, peach or pear, consider eating the skin as well. Pineapple core and broccoli stalks are also very nutritious.
Conventionally-raised fruits and vegetables may have pesticide residue on the skins. Sometimes this pesticide is under a layer of wax coating the skins. Consuming these pesticides may have some health risks, especially for small children, who tend to have higher exposure to these pesticides. Celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, domestic blueberries, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale and collard greens, potatoes and imported grapes have the most pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group.
You can reduce your pesticide exposure if you wash your produce before you eat it, removing any wax coating in the process. This won't necessarily remove all of the pesticide residue. Organic produce won't have pesticide residue, so for the fruits and vegetables that typically have the most pesticide residue, buy organic varieties. This can reduce your pesticide intake while still allowing you to get the health benefits of eating the skins.
For the most health benefits from fruits and vegetables, eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables, making sure to consume fruits and vegetables of different colors. Different colors usually indicate different mixes of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, increasing your chances of getting a good mix of these nutrients.
- Daily Mail Online; From Garlic to Bananas, Don't Bin the Skin: Eating Fruit and Vegetable Peel Could Combat Cancer; Matthew Barbour; Nov. 2, 2010
- Harvard School of Public Health: Vegetables and Fruits: Get Plenty Every Day
- Consumer Reports; Q&A: Nutritional Benefits of Fruit and Vegetable Skins; March 8, 2010
- University of Michigan Integrative Medicine; Healing Foods Pyramid; Monica Myklebust, M.D., et al.; 2010
- Environmental Working Group; EWG's 2010 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides
- several apples image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.