Not only is the produce we’re eating less nutritious than it used to be, it’s also more expensive. So what if we told you that you’re probably tossing out some of the most nutritious parts of the foods you eat?
Here are 9 examples, which all show that when it comes to health, the whole is almost always better than the part!
1. Banana peels
Yep! Banana peels are not only edible, they’re also highly nutritious. They’re high in lutein, which protects the eye from free radical damage, the mood-boosting chemical serotonin, as well as tryptophan, which helps you get a good night’s sleep.
They can be safely eaten raw (considering they’re clean and free of pesticides), blended into a smoothie, or juiced, but most cultures boil or cook them for about 10 minutes before eating.
2. Broccoli stalks and leaves
The stalks and leaves of this crunchy green veggie are packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium and fiber. In fact, they’re even higher in these nutrients than the florets! Grate the stalks and add them with the leaves to salads, or add both to soups and stir-fries.
3. Citrus peels
Like the fruits themselves, citrus peels are high in vitamin C, but what you may not know is that the peels contain even more antioxidants than the fruits themselves. Juice the whole fruit, add the peels to smoothies, add the zest to your salads, or use them to makes citrus-infused tea or water.
4. Kiwi skins
Though it may not look like it, the skin of the kiwi is completely edible, and high in both Vitamin C and fiber. Again, you can put the whole fruit in your juices or smoothies, or simply eat the fruit as you would a peach or plum – after washing thoroughly.
5. Watermelon rind
You know that white part of the watermelon between the pink flesh and the green peel? That layer of the watermelon, sometimes called the rind, is full of antioxidants and citrulline—a compound that is linked to improving circulation and is thought to be beneficial in treating erectile dysfunction.
You can shred it and add it to salads, chop it up and sauté it, add it to soups along with other vegetables, or pickle it, which is fairly common in the south.
6. Onion and garlic skins
Both of these skins are high in heart-healthy antioxidants. Add the skins to vegetable or bone broths, or any soup or sauce. You can pick or strain them out when it’s time for dinner, or leave them in and eat them!
7. Meat bones
Instead of throwing them away, start saving the bones from the fish, beef, poultry, and other animal products you consume. They can be used to make your own super healthy bone broth, which aids digestive health, helps to balance hormones, and supports the health of your bones and teeth.
8. Spring onion or leek tops
Although people typically only use the white and light green part of the onion, the darker greens at the top can also be used. Their flavor is more mild, and you can use them just as you would scallions—on salads, or mixed into cream cheese or salsa.
Or, like so many other veggie ‘scraps,’ you can save them and add them to homemade broths.
9. Pineapple cores
Many health nuts know that pineapple contains the powerful enzyme bromelain, which has been linked with detoxification and digestion, but did you know that the tough pineapple core actually contains more of this enzyme than the fruit itself? It’s also full of fiber and vitamin C.
If you have a powerful juicer or blender, you can pre-chop the core and then add it to your juices and smoothies. You can also add the pieces into your homemade sauces for a little extra tang, and strain them out before serving. Or, you can cube it, freeze the pieces, and use them as ice cubes in some refreshing pineapple-infused water.
Don’t forget: when you’re using the whole food rather than throwing away the stalks or peels, it’s even more important to buy organic!
What other healthy parts of food have you found a use for?