FROM anti-inflammatory onion skin to infection-fighting orange peel, here are six food scraps that are packed with nutritional benefits
The phrase “don’t waste the best bit” may be something many of us recognise from childhood. But while eating your crusts won’t really make your hair curly, parts of fruit and vegetables which we commonly discard really can contain huge health benefits.
The skins, peel and leaves, which often end up on the compost heap, are actually better for you than the flesh of the food itself.
The fact that the outer layer is often more colourful is a tell-tale sign that it contains nutritious phytochemicals like carotenoids, which are thought to decrease the risk of disease particularly certain cancers and eye problems.
A more colourful diet also provides a greater variety of antioxidants, which strengthen your ability to fight infection and disease.
So the broccoli leaves and melon rind that you have been absent-mindedly throwing in the bin could in fact help keep you healthy.
Here Laurence Beeken, food information executive at weightlossresources.co.uk, gives us six parts of common fruit and vegetables we often discard and ways we can easily include them in our diets…
1. ONION SKIN
Onion skin is rich in quercetin, which may reduce blood pressure and prevent clogged arteries. Quercetin has also displayed considerable anti-inflammatory activity, restraining both the production and release of histamine and other allergic and inflammatory sources, meaning that it may be useful for hay fever sufferers.
How to include it in your diet: Use it when cooking stocks, soups and stews and remove just before serving.
2. MELON RIND
Melon rind is rich in citrulline, an amino acid which contributes to the dilation of blood vessels and circulation improvements.
How to include it in your diet: Blend the rind with the flesh for a super-fresh smoothie.
3. BROCCOLI LEAVES
Broccoli leaves are an excellent source of carotenoids, which can help decrease the risk of disease, and are also packed with vitamins A and C.
How to include it in your diet: Cook them just as you would cabbage. And don’t forget that the stems contain a good dose of fibre, and are great for a crunchy snack.
4. CELERY LEAVES
Containing five times more magnesium and calcium than the stalks, celery leaves also contain vitamin C and phenolics – powerful antioxidants which may help combat cancer, heart disease and premature ageing.
How to include it in your diet: Use them as you would celery – add to soups, salads, sauces, relishes etc.
5. CHARD STEMS
Packed with glutamine, antioxidants and phenolic compounds, the stems are as edible as the leaves.
How to include it in your diet: Steam the stems whole just as you would asparagus.
6. ORANGE PEEL
Orange peel is a powerhouse of fibre, vitamins and flavonoids, which help protect blood vessels from rupture, protect cells and prevent excessive inflammation throughout the body.
The good concentration of vitamin C also helps boost the immune system and could help ward off respiratory infections.
How to include it in your diet: Whip up the whole fruit (pith and all) into a delicious smoothie.