Americans toss forty percent of the food they buy. On top of that, most people throw away (hopefully at least some of it gets composted) the most colorful parts of plants before they eat the rest. The pigments in plants are what contain the antioxidants that are so beneficial to human health. Before you throw away your onion skins, read on.
The skin of an onion isn’t really edible, but it does hold high concentrations of quercetin, an antioxidant that can reduce blood pressure, preventing arteriosclerosis. Including the skins in your next soup, stew, or sauté will fortify your dish with this important and other nutrients.
Onions have antibacterial properties and are an extremely healthful vegetable, known to regulate blood sugar levels, cause cancer cell apoptosis, stop nosebleeds, and support the immune system with plenty of vitamin C.
The darker the color, the higher the phytonutrient density.
We often cut off other parts of certain vegetables that are equally nutritious and flavorful as the parts we do eat–we’ve become rather snobbish in how they look, is all. Broccoli and celery leaves, for example, contain even more fiber and vitamins than the stalks. After all, the leaves are the means by which plants absorb the sun’s light for photosynthesis. Consider beet and carrot leaves, too–a little bitter greens can add kick to other foods.
The stems of kale and chard are tough but not if you steam them. Add a little garlic for added flavor and incredible health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer and moderating cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Don’t be a food snob or you’ll miss out.
The skins of fruits, too, often get remanded to the compost heap, garbage disposal, or trash can. Consider citrus peels, for instance. We don’t think twice when a recipe calls for lemon or orange zest, so why don’t we ordinarily include the peels in what we eat? While they may be a little bitter, they are certainly flavorful and the plants’ pigments are concentrated there.
Sign up to get our free newsletter in your inbox daily.
You can add orange peels to smoothies or drop them in a glass of water to eat when the water’s gone; you’ll freshen your breath and get a hefty dose of fiber, vitamin C, and phenolics–antimicrobial phytonutrients that not only help reduce oxidative stress but also help detoxify cells from environmental exposure to toxic metals. Fruit peels also purify water of metals and other toxins.
Melon rinds are rich in the amino acid citrulline, which has been found effective in the treatment of mild erectile dysfunction. Give them a good scrubbing, then throw them in your blender or juicer with your other raw fruits and vegetables for added fiber and taste.
The ends of vegetables you customarily chop off can be the start of new plants: scallions and leeks will root in a little water and ginger and sprouted potatoes will grow if you stick them in a little pot of dirt.
The trimmed and discarded speak out! Stems, leaves, and roots that you may cut out are more than worthy of your dinner plate. Once you cook them or incorporate them with other foods, no one would ever know that you used to throw these away.