6 Hidden Health Benefits of Eating Peels, Stems and Rinds
Food scraps can be packed with nutrients as well as a surprising amount of flavor. Here are six trimmings you should start saving.
Photo: Dan Saelinger
The peel contains more than four times as much fiber as the fruit inside, and more tangeretin and nobiletin—flavonoids with anticancer, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2004 study on animals suggests that these nutrients may even reduce harmful LDL cholesterol better than some prescription drugs.
How to eat it: Grate and sprinkle zest on green beans or asparagus. For dessert, simmer strips in simple syrup and cover in melted dark chocolate.
Nutritional Benefits of Eating Swiss Chard Stems
A study by the Institute of Food Technology in Germany revealed that Swiss chard stems are loaded with glutamine, an amino acid that boosts the immune system and bolsters the body's ability to recover from injuries and surgery.
How to eat them: Bruce Sherman, a chef celebrated for his farm-fresh cuisine at Chicago's North Pond restaurant, ties the stems in bundles of six to eight with kitchen twine and braises them in vegetable stock, red wine vinegar, honey, and garlic for 20 to 30 minutes.
Nutritional Benefits of Celery Tops
The leaves are brimming with five times more magnesium and calcium than the stalks. They're also a rich source of vitamin C and phenolics, potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds.
How to eat them: Finely chop the leaves with parsley and stir into salsa, or use as a garnish on fish or chicken.
Nutritional Benefits of Broccoli Leaves
A one-ounce serving provides 90 percent of your daily vitamin A requirement (the florets deliver only 3 percent).
How to eat them: Cook the leaves as you would spinach. Blanch in boiling water, then sauté with olive oil, garlic, and salt.
Nutritional Benefits of Watermelon Rind
A USDA study found that the tart white rind offers a high dose of citrulline, an amino acid that helps dilate blood vessels to improve circulation.
How to eat it: Throw the rind in a blender with lime and watermelon flesh to make an agua fresca. Add sugar, rum, gin, or vodka, if desired.
Nutritional Benefits of Onion Skins
The papery skin contains more antioxidants than the onion itself. It's especially rich in quercetin, which may reduce blood pressure and prevent arterial plaque.
How to eat them: Simmer in stocks, soups, and stews for additional flavor; discard the skins before serving.