Are you sometimes unsure about preparing fruits and vegetables for juicing? Are you wondering if you have to peel carrots, beets, cucumber and other fruits or veggies? Is it safe to eat or juice the skins of kiwifruit? How about something like watermelon rind? Did you know that the health benefits in watermelon rind can exceed those in the juicy red flesh?
Let's take a quick look at why the skins of most fruits and vegetables need to find their way into your juicer as often as possible. Oh yes, and further down I will also give you my special Refreshing Skin-Food Juice recipe!
1. What's healthy about grape skins?
Luckily most of us would never dream of peeling a grape! If you did peel them, you would lose out on an antioxidant compound called resveratrol. This is one of the super-hero anthocyanins of the plant world. Now, you have probably heard that having small quantities of red wine is good for heart health. However, you don't need to use alcohol to get this benefit! You can get the same heart protection by enjoying fresh grapes or adding red or purple grapes to your juice recipes. Just make sure that the skins are not excluded.
Resveratrol can really help to lower your cholesterol and keep your arteries clear. This substance may also act as a cancer preventing agent. And, for folks who have to undergo chemotherapy, it may help to make the treatment more effective. However, if you are undergoing any medical treatment, discuss juicing with your doctor first.
When it comes to citrus fruits, remember these 'rules'...
- Lemon and lime: It is usually fine to juice 1/4 to 1/2 lemon or lime with their peel if you wish. Larger quantities should be peeled to be on the safe side.
- Oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, minneolas, etc: Never juice these with their peel. You can however peel citrus quite thinly (using a vegetable peeler can make this quite easy), so that you retain as much as possible of the nutrient-rich white pith underneath the colored part of the peel.
Because of its antioxidant function, resveratrol is also anti-aging, can assist in blood sugar control and will help to fight inflammation in your body. What a delicious way to take better care of your health!
2. The top watermelon rind benefits...
The skin or rind of watermelon can easily be juiced! Don't assume that it would give your juices a bad taste. In fact, it just tastes like watermelon! Eating it will probably not be a good idea, as your digestion won't be able to cope with it. But in a juice recipe watermelon rind is fine, refreshing and absolutely loaded with health benefits!
The whitish rind of a watermelon comes packed with an amino acid called citrulline. Your body is equipped to know exactly how to turn this compound into arginine. This is another one of the crucial amino acids your body needs.
Arginine helps your health in a number of ways. Your body can convert this amino acid into nitric oxide. This helps to relax your blood vessels and can lead to lower blood pressure and better blood circulation. It can also aid in keeping arteries healthier. It also plays a role in your immune system and may improve dementia in elderly people.
If your intake of citrulline is adequate, it can help to increase your energy and may speed up your recovery time after strenuous workouts. This is mainly thanks to better blood flow and reduced levels of lactic acid.
3. Is kiwifruit skin good for you?
You may be wrinkling your nose at the thought of eating a furry, hairy kiwifruit skin and all! Don't worry, you can get rid of the fuzzy stuff first by rubbing it off! Or you can simply opt for the smooth, hairless varieties such as gold kiwifruit. But by tossing the skin, you are tossing many good-for-you nutrients and fiber.
Yes, that somewhat shuddersome skin comes loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients that can help with inflammation, heart health, blood vessel health, your metabolism, etc. In addition, it can benefit your whole digestive system and can aid detoxing.
By juicing the fruit, you will probably not even notice that you retained the skin! You may just discover that you enjoy the extra bit of taste and tartness. Remember that the skins of golden ones will add less tartness, if this is more to your taste.
4. Are there health benefits in juicing cucumber skin?
Do you love low-calorie, low-GI, refreshing cucumber in your juices as much as I do? I seldom prepare a juice without some cucumber, skin and all. Both the skin and the seeds of a cucumber are truly valuable in terms of nutrition. In fact, you will probably get more nutrients when you eat the skin and seeds than when you enjoy the fleshy bits!
Just remember that cucumbers are often waxed. This may not be such a problem with organically grown cucumbers, as the waxes that may be used are regulated according to organic standards. In the case of other cucumbers, it is better to peel them if they have been waxed, as you may otherwise be taking in unhealthy chemicals. As with all your produce, cucumbers need to be washed very carefully.
When you juice a cucumber with its skin, you will be increasing your intake of vitamin A in particular, as well as minerals such as silica, magnesium, molybdenum and potassium. Your skin, hair and nails will love the silica! It is an excellent skin tonic. If your juice recipes often include cucumber with peel, you are sure to notice the difference in your skin.
When eating cucumber, the fiber in their skins will also help to keep your digestive system regular.
5. What's healthy about purple eggplant or aubergine skin?
One of the secret phytonutrients hiding in a purple eggplant's skin, is an anthocyanin called nasunin. Anthocyanins are responsible for the colors such as blue, purple and red in fruits and veggies and come with a massive antioxidant punch! This is why goodies such as berries, purple cabbage and purple grapes are packed with such amazing health-building powers.
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Nasunin can help to keep your brain healthy and functioning optimally. It can contribute to healthy joints by reducing inflammation. Nasunin also helps to prevent cell damage, so may give cancer protection. It can also play a role in keeping cholesterol under control. Another function of this anthocyanin is to help your body to get rid of excess iron.
6. Most important apple skin benefits...
Up to 50% of the vitamin C in an apple hides just underneath the skin. So, if you peel the apple, you lose out big time. Other nutrients such as iron, potassium, calcium, vitamin A and folate will also be lost.
Another valuable compound found in apple skins, is quercetin. Apart from many other health benefits, quercetin has been shown to help to maintain healthy brain cells.
When it comes to cancer-fighting compounds, you would do equally well to retain the skins of apples. Remember that the red pigment in red apple peel signals the presence of anthocyanins. These antioxidants have a whole range of helpful functions, including reducing inflammation, offering cancer protection and helping with heart health. In fact, apple skins could be an equally effective ally in promoting heart health and clear arteries, than red or purple grapes!
7. Is the pith of an orange good for you?
The pith of citrus is a good source of pectin, an excellent dietary fiber. Pectin may help to lower your cholesterol and it can also play a role in stabilizing blood sugar. In addition, the pith can help to ensure that you have the right balance of healthy bacteria in your digestive system. The pith also contains roughly as much vitamin C as the flesh of the fruits themselves!
The pith of citrus fruits is particularly rich in a variety of bioflavonoids. Limonin, limonene, naringenin and hesperidin are four of these you should keep in mind when looking at the white pith of citrus. Together with the vitamin C content in citrus, these bioflavonoids could function as...
8. What about pesticides and other nasties in the skins?
- Cancer fighters
- Cholesterol lowering agents
- Cognitive function protectors
- Inflammation fighters
- Stroke reducers
- Healthy capillary facilitators
- Metabolism and fat-burning boosters
To avoid exposure to unwanted chemicals, it is usually safer to choose organic fruits and vegetables. But if you don't have access to organic goodies or you can't afford them, you can use a proper vegetable wash and soak the fruits and veggies to get them as clean as possible.
Scrub all your veggies (organic or conventional) with a vegetable brush and use an environmentally friendly vegetable wash. Some folks recommend soaking the veggies for around 10 minutes in a water bath to which 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar have been added. Leafy greens and softer fruits need to be soaked for only a couple of minutes. Jay Kordich has his own recipe for a vegetable wash.
9. Other often discarded parts of fruits and vegetables...
Pototo skins not only provide you with lots of soluble fiber, but also elements like iron, potassium, zinc, a range of B-vitamins and vitamin C. Here again the skin may be more beneficial than the flesh itself
Pumpkin and squash skins can often be too tough to eat or juice. What we like to do, is to bake the pumpin slices in the oven, skin and all. Then you can really scrape the flesh out very close to the outer skin, to gain as much nutritional power as possible.
As with apples, pear skins are also rich in vitamin C and other nutrients. Another huge plus is the fiber content. So, by all means enjoy biting into that healthy skin!
And don't forget that broccoli stalks are nutrient-rich too! These are loaded with vitamin C and minerals such as calcium. These can easily be juiced if you cut them into pieces. You can also cut the stalks into strips and add it to your stir-fry dishes.
Pineapple skins are edible, but difficult to scrub really clean. I prefer to discard them to be on the safe side. But I do make sure that I use the core when I juice pineapple. This is your best source of bromelain.
Bromelain is beneficial for a host of physical conditions and processes, including digestive function, lung ailments and blood circulation. However, it is primarily known for its anti-inflammatory effect, which makes it useful in conditions such as arthritis, as well as inflammation-related skin problems.
Radish skins are rich in antioxidants, so try not to peel them. Black radish has an outer skin you will need to remove in most instances, however. Wash the radish carefully. You can then simply trim the ends and remove blemishes as necessary. Or you can use a peeler to remove as thin a layer of skin as possible.
As with many veggies, a huge percentage of the goodness in carrots, resides in the skin or just underneath it. So, by peeling carrots you are throwing away some really valuable stuff! Just give them a thorough scrub and remove blemishes you see, but don't take out the peeler!
For juicing, I would peel...
- Whole lemon
- Whole lime
- Butternut squash
- Pineapple (skin is edible, but difficult to clean thoroughly)
- Black radish
I never peel...
- Sweet potatoes
- 1/4 or 1/2 Lemon
- 1/4 or 1/2 Lime
Refreshing Skin-Food Juice
1/2 Medium (roughly 15cm) organic cucumber
1/2 Lemon or lime
- Wash the ingredients thoroughly
- Cut cucumber as needed (you don't have to peel organic cucumbers)
- The lemon or lime can be juiced with skin. Cut into wedges
- Remove stray stems or leaves from strawberries
- Pour over crushed ice and serve
2 Medium (you can easily increase the juice quantity by adding more cucumber)
I hope you have enjoyed learning more about the health benefits in all sorts of fruit and vegetable skins. I was really surprised to discover that juices with watermelon rind as an ingredient taste great! And the benefits really make using it worthwhile.
Let's all try to give our vegetable peelers a bit of a holiday when it comes to skins, rinds and peels!
From the juicing for health desk of Rika Susan.