The benefits of fruits and vegetables are well known.

Full of vitamins and minerals, eating them is important for a healthy diet.

However, what about the peel, which we normally discard?

Turns out, you might want to give that a second look.

While the amount of nutrients differs based on the fruit or vegetable, generally speaking, eating the produce with peel intact can provide higher amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber compared to its peeled counterparts. Studies have found that a raw apple with the skin contains up to 332 percent more vitamin K, 142% more vitamin A, 115% more vitamin C, 20% more calcium and up to 19% more potassium than an apple without its peel. Likewise, a boiled potato with the skin can contain up to 175% additional vitamin C, 115% extra potassium, 111% more folate and 110% added magnesium and phosphorus than one without the peel.

Most people just use orange peels for zesting, but just one tablespoon of the fruit’s peel provides 14% of the daily value of vitamin C.

That’s almost three times more than the inner portion. The same serving also gives you about four times more fiber.

Speaking of fiber, you probably never thought of eating a kiwi with the peel on, but if you do, you’ll get 50%more fiber. The texture of the peel isn’t as tough as you might think. It is similar to that of a peach. Kiwi peel also provides 34% folate and 32% vitamin E. Not to mention, kiwi fruit is much easier to eat if you don’t remove the peel.

Up to 31% of the total amount of fiber in a vegetable can be found in its skin. Higher fiber content will keep you fuller for longer and research has shown that fiber found in fruits and vegetables can be especially effective at reducing your appetite.

Don’t forget antioxidants that fight against free radicals, which may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Levels of antioxidants can be up to 328 times higher in fruit peels than in pulp.

While eating fruits and vegetables with the peel does provide more nutrients, it is always important to consider food safety. Make sure you thoroughly wash any fruits or vegetables whether you eat the food with the peel or decide to peel and cut it, to rid the produce of any dirt or germs.

For more information on healthy eating, contact the Madison County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. (Source: Heather Norman-Burgdolf, extension specialist in food and nutrition)

Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

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