We’re so conditioned to eating only certain parts of a plant that we don’t even consider the rest of it. How many fruits have you eaten only after throwing out the skin and removing the stems? These so-called ‘scraps’ might not taste as good as the other parts, but they’re packed with as many (or sometimes even more) health benefits. If peels and leaves are more commonly found in your garbage can than on your plate, it’s time to change that. Here are six things we don’t normally consider edible, but should definitely start eating.
1. Banana Peels
Unlike the sweet flesh of a banana, banana peels are chewy and bitter. No one would ever dream of eating a whole banana, peel and all, but the peel is actually where a lot of a banana’s true nutritional powers lie. Banana peels are full of antioxidants like flavonoids and have anti-inflammatory effects. They can also stabilize blood sugar, making them very important for diabetics. If you’re using bananas to cure constipation, always eat them with the peel. The peel contains important fibers which will help ease gut movement. Even if you don’t want to eat the peel, you can rub the insides against your teeth for an immediate whitening effect.
2. Cauliflower Greens
The next time you’re chopping up a cauliflower head, don’t forget to include the surrounding leaves. Cauliflower leaves are often discarded because they aren’t considered as important as the actual vegetable. However, the leaves are one of the best sources of plant-based iron which can be easily absorbed by the body. Studies on anemic patients showed a significant improvement in iron levels after they ate cauliflower greens. These leaves are also rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene which can help you get ageless, radiant skin.
3. Marigold Flowers
Marigold flowers are undoubtedly beautiful and can brighten up any home or garden. However far too often, they are only valued for their aesthetic beauty. Marigold flowers are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. They can be brewed into a tea that is perfect for colicky babies or adults with digestive problems. Marigolds also keep your eyes healthy by preventing macular degeneration and diseases like conjunctivitis. You can eat marigolds as they are, sprinkle their petals over a salad or use the oil extracted from them (known as calendula oil), topically.
Dandelions, like marigolds, are flowers that have many medicinal uses. Unlike marigolds however, no one really wants dandelions popping up in their garden. Popularly considered as weeds, dandelion plants are extremely sturdy and can pop up anywhere. If you notice dandelions growing in your garden, don’t uproot them just yet. Dandelion tea is one of the most effective liver detoxifying elixirs you can make. It removes harmful fats from your liver along with free radicals and dangerous substances. Dandelion greens are also very nutritious and should be added to your leafy green rotation.
5. Lemon Rinds
Lemon rinds are thick, bitter and waxy -probably why they aren’t widely consumed. However studies are now showing that lemons are only effective when eaten whole, rind and all. One of the biggest health benefits of lemons are that they have been found to fight skin cancer. However, it was only those group of participants that consumed the peel as well that had any protection against skin cancer. Instead of tossing out lemons after juicing them, add the entire thing to your smoothies. You can also add lemon zest to your recipes for added flavor and health benefits.
6. Kiwi Peels
While their deliciously tart flesh might be loved by everyone, fuzzy kiwi skins are much less popular. However, kiwi peels actually contain more vitamin C than the flesh itself. Kiwi skins are so high in vitamin C, that they even surpass oranges. They are also very rich in fiber, making them a great solution for digestive health issues. Eat kiwis everyday along with their skin to boost your immunity, fight cancer and make your bowel movements more regular. If the thought of eating the skin doesn’t sound appetizing to you, blend them up in a smoothie. This way you’ll be able to get all their health benefits without even having to taste them.