Health is skin deep

Peel of fruits and vegetables is more nutritious than the food

Published: Saturday 30 April 2005

Health is skin deep

-- (Credit: Debojyoti kundu / CSE)Doctors insist that some foodstuffs should be eaten along with their skin. The peels have vitamins, trace minerals and dietary fibres -- a fact unknown to many. Peeling off the skin dramatically reduces the nutritional value of a food item, reveals a study by the University of California, usa. This also holds true for processed foodstuff. For example, milling strips off more than 20 vital nutrients -- like iron, vitamin b 1, 2 and 3 -- from whole grains.

Fibres are particularly concentrated in the peel, stalk and husk. Hence too much processing of food items means consuming a fibreless diet. Shelly Sinton, a well-known us health expert, asserts: "Our ancestors consumed more fibres than we do. As a nation, today we eat less of carbohydrates than we did generations ago." This unhealthy phenomenon is also becoming common in India and other developing countries, especially in the urban and peri-urban areas.

So next time you eat, try to do the following: replace white bread for whole wheat bread; prefer brown rice to superfine and polished rice; eat skinned pulses, potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, legumes, cucumbers and apples. One can even try this out with some mango varieties such as the baiganpalli -- one of the first mangoes that appear in the market during summers; mango peels are also kept intact while making the mouth-watering pickles.

The peels are useful in many other ways -- powder of lemon and orange peels can help whiten teeth. Powdered lemon peels can also be used as cake pudding or to flavour coffee. The inside of ripe banana and papaya peels can be used as a face scrubber. Powdered peel of ripe banana is even good for polishing metallic goods. Orange peels can help treat pimples and acne. Cucumber peels can keep cockroaches away. In other words, the peels are wealth, not waste.

Rajeev Betne is working as an assistant coordinator with the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi

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