Growing out in the wild, even if it’s the wild of your backyard, plants must protect themselves from attack. They’re under constant assault from ultraviolet rays, pollution, and predators. It’s important that they have a first, powerful line of defense.
And, like humans, skin is their defense.
Whether it’s the skin of an apple, the peel of a grape, or the rind on an orange, this part of the fruit has a tremendous antioxidant ability that permits it to withstand the assaults of nature. For example, the outer leaves of spinach and cabbage have the highest levels of vitamin C. The papery brownish skins on almonds and peanuts are loaded with various bioactive polyphenols.
The health benefits of fruit skin on apples is just as staggering.
- One hundred grams of fresh apples with the skin contain about 142 milligrams of flavonoids.
- The same amount of apples without the skin has only 97 milligrams of flavonoids.
- Quercetin—a common flavonoid with anti-inflammatory properties—is found only in the skins of apples, not in the flesh of the fruit.
- The antioxidant activity of 100 grams of apples without the skin is 55 percent of the activity of 100 grams of apples with skin.
- The skinless apples are about half as powerful.
As a general rule, the greater the proportion of skin to interior fruit, the higher the antioxidant ability. For example, blueberries and cranberries are extraordinarily high in antioxidants because they’re so small. The rule holds true for tomatoes: the smaller the tomato—think cherry tomato—the higher its antioxidant ability.
So how can you take advantage of that antioxidant power? Yep, you guessed — by simply eating the skin!
Tips for Eating Fruits and Veggies with Skin On
- The skin is where pesticides and potentially harmful bacteria reside, so a careful washing is mandatory.
- Juices with sediment on the bottom are the ones to choose. That sediment contains bits of skin and pulp and is a great source of antioxidants.
- Many organic juices, as well as those that are 100 percent juice, contain this sediment.