Fruits and Vegetables: To Peel or Not To Peel?
By Alyssa Adler
Fruits and vegetables are known for their phytonutrients, which have outstanding health benefits such as reducing risk factors for cancer and chronic diseases. These phytonutrients are mostly found on the outside of plants, specifically on the skin. The phytonutrient content increases with ripeness and with any puncture to the skin such as fermenting, cutting or crushing. The skin of plants also contains tons of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Simply put, it is important to try and eat the entire fruit or vegetable to maximize health benefits.
Studies have shown that vegetables of the carotenoid and cruciferous families have the greatest cancer protection. The carotenoids include red, orange and yellow colored vegetables while the cruciferous family includes broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale. A general rule of thumb is the deeper the color of the vegetable, the greater amount of phytonutrients.
People often peel fruits and vegetables to take stress off their digestive system or to reduce the amount of pesticides. If you’d prefer to leave the skin on but still make them easier to eat and digest you can always cook them. Check out our Strawberry Fruit Compote, Poached Peaches in White Wine, and Poached Pears with Blueberry Sauce for some great ideas. In addition, try our Zucchini with Mint or Stir Fried Kale with Ginger to add those veggies into the diet.
In order to remove pesticides, wash the fruit or vegetable thoroughly under cold water and scrub with a stiff brush to wash away any dirt or chemicals (FDA). With proper washing, you are able to remove those pesticides in order to reap all possible health benefits from the skin and inner flesh of fruits and vegetables.
Alyssa Adler is a Boston University Graduate from Long Island, New York. She was CFYL’s 2016 summer web intern after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Sciences with a concentration in Dietetics. She has since gone on to earn her Masters degree, and is now a Clinical Nutritionist at Mt. Sinai’s St. Luke’s hospital here in New York City. Alyssa has a food blog called Red Delicious and Nutritious which focuses on healthy eating and living and how decadent foods can be made wholesome and delicious. A woman after our own heart!
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