More often then not we tend to throw away peels from fruits such as apples, bananas and oranges; vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes and cucumber; and root crops such as yam, cassava and potatoes. Most of these skins are edible and contain nutritional value to combat disease and increase energy levels. The skins’ nutrients play a key role in reinforcing the nutrients already found in the food. The following are some of the foods that should be eaten whole to enjoy their full dietary value.

Tomato : Tomatoes contain antioxidants like vitamin E and vitamin C that contribute to the healthy maintenance of the cardiovascular system. However, it is lycopene, a carotenoid pigment compound that gives tomato skin its red colour, and also makes it healthy. This compound restrains cell damage that causes degenerative diseases like cancer and heart disease. Cook tomatoes in various dishes to enjoy their full benefits, although they can also be eaten raw in salads.

Ripe banana : Banana peelings compliment the already nutritious fleshy bit. When feeling low consider eating banana skin as it can ease depression. It contains tryptophan, which increases serotonin levels in the body, affecting mood. In addition, banana skin contains a powerful antioxidant, lutein, which protects the eye from harmful UV radiation from the sun. Lutein also reduces the risk of cataracts and muscular degeneration in the eyes. The best way to eat the banana whole is to blend it with other fruits or in fruit salad.

Swet potato : This tubular plant’s skin- especially the colourful purple skinned variety, contain antioxidant nutrients like cyanidins and peonidins, which flush out heavy metals and oxygen radicals from the body, lowering potential health risk. The best way to prepare sweet potatoes is either by steaming or boiling, which has a more favourable impact on blood sugar regulation.

Orange: When you discard an orange peel, you might be discarding the best part of this fruit. The albedo (whitish part of the peel) contains flavonoids, which help vitamin C in the orange to work more effectively. Flavonoids also hinder the growth of cancer cells by restricting the energy requirement for their progress.

The peel also contains two compounds – hesperidin and polymethoxylate – that help lower cholesterol levels. The orange peel is best eaten in form of marmalade jam that can be spread on bread or eaten with pancakes.