Now that summer is coming up, we usually opt for smoothies with vegetables or fruits. We drink the juice of the fruit and vegetables leaving out their skin.
Do we throw away the skin that could give additional nutrients? This article will investigate the contribution of fruit and vegetable skin to our diet.
A. Importance of fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet
Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet can compensate for the lack of vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are essential as they are contributing to having a sharp vision, boost our immune system and source of energy, and maximise natural defenses against harmful pathogens.1
Some important fibers and minerals are in vegetables. Phytochemical; goods produced by plants contain zinc, potassium, folic, magnesium, and phosphorus.1
B. Question: Is it safe to eat the skin of a fruit or vegetable?
Well, some fruits and vegetables’ skin holds fibers that are higher in antioxidants than the fruit itself.2
Serotonin promotes depression, it can be rectified by adding banana skin. We can masticate the skin when the fruit is ripe; the skin is brown.2
Therefore, yes! Some skin does not need to be removed and can be digested. Depending on the ingredient skin in the preparation of food, there are tips that involve absorbing the whole nutrients in fruits and vegetables.2
Nutritional benefits of fruit and vegetable skins
Depending on the type of fruit or vegetable that you want to include in your diet, some fruit skin contains additional vitamins to your diet whereas veggies’ skin contains different minerals than its vegetables.
High nutrient content
Peeling the skin away in certain fruit and vegetables can remove the antioxidants that we actually need.
Nutrients found in fruit and vegetable peels
Berry fruits like cherries, and grapes do not need peeling. The fruit skin contains more antioxidants than its juice. Apricot and pears' skin have 13 to 48% of antioxidants. Both cucumber and kiwi fruit contain fibers, potassium, and vitamin K.3
Vegetables like aubergine and courgette both have a high water concentration of 95% which is also beneficial to add to our diet. Different types of nutrients in potato skin have fibers, iron, vitamin C, and folate.3
Increased nutrient intake
Without peeling the skin of certain fruits and vegetables, we can consume a good amount of nutrients to increase mental and physical activities.
Eating the skin can enhance overall nutrient intake
As we have discussed, some skins from fruits and vegetables do help to improve the skin from inside and outside of the body. The minerals and the vitamin combination result in preventing inflammation and pigmentation (skin tone) when consuming vitamin A for example. A fruit that is high in water concentration can hydrate the body and heal the damage done by photo-aging; UV rays.4
Incorporating protein into the diet helps with skin repair. Copper and zinc are known to work towards angiogenesis; the new formation of blood as well as epidermal keratinocytes (skin cells).
The rest of the vitamins are focusing on maintaining glowing skin looking like an anti-aging agent.4
The skin adds to the overall nutritional value of the fruit or vegetable
The skin is an organ that needs vitamins to feed off the skin, it assists to produce fibroblasts and helps the endocrine system; maintaining the level of hormones. Fruit and vegetables’ skin can obtain healthy skin instead of cosmetics and skin treatment.4
Factors to consider
The skins of the fruit and vegetables need to be sanitised before getting into contact with the human’s mouth. Some fruits and vegetables’ skin are safe to consume, for instance, strawberries, apples, and so on. But, some tropical fruits/veggies such as pineapple are hard to digest.
Organic vs. conventional produce
Firstly, there is a huge fascination around fruits and vegetables being organic; to improve a better way of farming the goods and avoiding pesticides and artificial products.5
In the perspective of buying organic food, the nutrients promote flavonoids ; which fruits and vegetables came from their respective plants.5
Nevertheless, the organic method uses pesticides to enhance better quality of organic farming. They are either organic pesticides or pesticides from another farm where particles invaded the organic farm.5
Pesticide residues on non-organic produce
Pesticide residues are from farms that use pesticides to treat and protect from pests and diseases.
The side effect of pesticide residues from conventional food can cause cancer, leading to respiratory tract irritations and diarrhea. Furthermore, severe symptoms are Parkinson's disease, asthma, depression, attention deficit, and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).6
The conventional method of farming does use pesticide residue, yet the level of the use has altered for the measure of safety regarding the goods.5
Washing and peeling options for non-organic fruits and vegetables
The impact of pesticides and other chemical doses depends on the types of skin fruits and vegetables have. A pumpkin skin needs fewer pesticides than softer fruits.7
Pesticides do remain on the skin of fruits and vegetables. Any fruits and vegetables need thorough washing in water before usage, even if they are organic food.7
Washing tips for fruits and vegetables include getting them to soak in salt water using sea salt. Research shows that using salt removes 10% of the pesticide residues on the skin.7
Another alternative is bicarbonate soda with two teaspoons should be enough to clean the ingredients. Leave it to soak for 15 minutes.7
Vinegar is also a common option to soak fruit and vegetables.7
Washing the skin removes bacteria and dirt present on the skin to prevent the difficulty to treat contaminated food with antibiotics.5
Personal preferences and tolerance
Eating the skin of fruits and vegetables seems to benefit us to acquire nutrients but, there is an allergy and intolerance concern.
Allergies or sensitivities
Allergy reactions result in in the digestion of the chemical from fruit or vegetables that threaten the immune system. The immune system views the food as dangerous and triggers symptoms which are mild swelling on the lips and tongue area, itchy throat, feeling nausea, and complications like anaphylaxis; a life-threatening allergic reaction. 
Some uncommon allergies observed are latex food syndrome; from rubber latex. Lipid transfer protein (LTP) is another reaction that could occur. LTP is a plant protein-based allergy.8
Digestive issues or discomfort
Some skin can cause digestive problems. High fiber from apples’ skin can cause bloating stomach, cramping, and gas.9
Other discomforts like oral allergen syndrome can result in an allergy reaction. Oral allergen syndrome (OAS) can be experienced when food digested contains pollen and triggers the immune system leading to an itchy throat.8
An individual with OAS and cannot eat a raw apple but if it is turned into applesauce then there would not be an allergic reaction, heating up the protein causes the allergic reaction to cease.8
Fruit and vegetable-specific considerations
We all need to be familiar with fruit and vegetable skin that we can eat without digestive troubles. It is also important to differentiate which skins are edible and which are not. Cookist present fruits and vegetables that are good and why they are.
Examples of fruits and vegetables with edible skins
Cucumbers hold water and their skin adds a little to obtain essential fibers and vitamins. So do not peel off cucumbers if you are making a salad2
Mango skin can be edible but there is another way of cooking the fruit in order to chew the skin easily. Mango’s skin contains polyphenols ; preventing oxidative stress, omega 3 fatty acid, and carotenoid; both enhance the immune system to combat diseases.2
By simply eating papaya fruit, the skin holds more nutrients that compensate for antioxidants, vitamins, fiber along with minerals.2
Sweet potatoes’ skin gives out fiber, vitamins c and e, and beta-carotene; a molecule that puts away free radicals harmful to the body. Along with potassium and iron, sweet potatoes are excellent to add to the skin with the veggies when making a broth.2
Examples of fruits and vegetables with non-edible skins
Avocados' skin should be peeled off as the fruit holds more nutrients than the skin does. First of all, the skin is not easy to masticate,2
When it comes to tropical fruits we always have to peel them as their skin is protected from the harsh climate and stops from affecting the actual fruit.3
Always peel out garlic and onion skin, they do not appear to have any beneficial nutrients.3
Orange peels need to be removed and only their juice provides great nutrient importance. However, their zest can be added for flavour purposes.3
Tips for safe consumption
So far the tips for safe skin consumption is to wash fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables do come from organic and conventional farming where farmers use pesticides forming residue and bacteria dirt.
Thoroughly washing produce
Removing dirt, bacteria, and pesticide residues
Removing dirt, bacteria, and pesticide residue can be done by soaking in bicarbonate soda, white vinegar, and sea salt for purification.7
During the fruit and vegetable collection, the fresh products need to be kept away from insects and farming diseases. After the pesticides serve their purpose, they are washed following the guidelines to avoid severe disease that upsets the gut.7
Peeling when necessary
Peeling off citrus fruit is necessary, the best way to approach this is by taking a kitchen knife and proceeding to slice off the top of the fruit for the white central column as well as the bottom. Slide off with the knife and peel the skin.
Removing wax coatings or thick, tough skins
Citrus fruits are coated with wax, so to dewax the tips are always to soak off with vinegar, or using a microwave, scrub off the wax layer.10
Organic produce as a safer option
So far, organic food is a better and safer option to buy as there is less pesticide activity reported even though conventional farming uses pesticides. Organic tips in farming its products revolve around rich soil exposure.
Reduced pesticide exposure
It is imperative to reduce pesticide exposure by washing the surface skin of fresh fruit and vegetables with a cleaning solution that is in your kitchen cupboard. Washing will prevent development of t serious diseases.
So let’s resume! We do remove the important nutrients that are present inside the skin of fruits and vegetables. Some skins should not be peeled off and some do, depending on the fruit and vegetable we want to eat.
- Popeck L. Top 10 Reasons to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables [Internet]. www.orlandohealth.com. 2020. Available from: https://www.orlandohealth.com/content-hub/top-10-reasons-to-eat-more-fruits-and-vegetables
- 13 Fruits and Vegetables You Should (and Shouldn’t) Peel [Internet]. Cookist.com. Available from: https://www.cookist.com/13-fruits-and-vegetables-you-should-and-shouldnt-peel/
- src ="https://www.thehealthy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Emily-DiNuzzo-Headshot_The-Healthy.jpg?fit=50 img class="avatar" alt="Emily D, Jul. 01 50" width="50" height="50">Emily D, 2022.
- 13 Fruits and Vegetables You Shouldn’t Peel—And 9 You Should [Internet]. The Healthy. 2022 [cited 2023 May 28]. Available from: https://www.thehealthy.com/food/fruits-vegetables-should-and-shouldnt-peel/
- Cao C, Xiao Z, Wu Y, Ge C. Diet and Skin Aging—From the Perspective of Food Nutrition. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 Mar 24;12(3):870. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7146365/
- Mayo Clinic . Are organic foods worth the price? [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. 2020. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/organic-food/art-20043880
- Claydon S. Health Effects of Pesticides - Pesticide Action Network UK [Internet]. Pesticide Action Network UK. 2017. Available from: https://www.pan-uk.org/health-effects-of-pesticides/
- How to Remove Pesticides From Your Produce - CNM College of Naturopathic Medicine [Internet]. CNM - Diploma Courses in Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, Acupuncture, and Natural Chef. 2020. Available from: https://www.naturopathy-uk.com/news/news-cnm-blog/blog/2020/05/22/how-to-remove-pesticides-from-vegetables-and-fruits-2/
- Allergy to Fruit [Internet]. Anaphylaxis UK. Available from: https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/fact-sheet/allergy-to-fruit/
- Curtis T. 5 Potential Reasons Why You Get a Stomach Ache After Eating Fruit [Internet]. LIVESTRONG.COM. 2022 [cited 2023 May 28]. Available from: https://www.livestrong.com/article/295145-pain-in-the-stomach-after-eating-fruit/
- How to Dewax Lemons: 3 Easy Ways to Clean Citrus Fruits [Internet]. wikiHow. [cited 2023 May 28]. Available from: https://www.wikihow.com/Dewax-Lemons