Fruit Skin and Seeds: What’s Good and What’s Not
Many people have discovered that fruits and vegetable smoothies are good for their health but when making a smoothie, should one include the skin and seeds or to throw them away and avoid eating them?
The answer is: it depends on the fruit.
Before we get started, it is important to mention that although fruit skins are mostly good for you, the so-called conventionally-grown fruits (or vegetables for that matter) contain pesticides, herbicides, chemicals, contaminants, and or carcinogens. So no matter how nutritious the skin may be, remember that you are ingesting chemicals that are not good for you. Try to consume organically grown (which means that they have not been grown using chemicals) fruits and wash all fruits thoroughly with water before consumption. Now you just have to hope that the part of the country you are living at does not add too much fluoride to the tap water that you use to wash your organic fruits. A person can get frustrated trying to avoid chemicals for the health of their family, in particular, their children.
The seeds of a plant or fruit are typically rich in vitamin and mineral content. An important function of a seed is to act as an energy and nutrient source for the new plant germinating from it. Hence it has lots of vitamins and minerals.
So let’s get started on specific fruit skin and seeds of the top 18 fruits:
1. Apple: The king of fruits, an apple is great for your health and a wonderful blend in your smoothies. It tastes good and goes with just about mix of smoothies often making vegetables smoothies taste much better. Apple skin is an amazing source of vitamin C, as much as 45%, and has lots of vitamin A. The skin has 38% fiber as well as antioxidants and quercetin which in an anti-inflammation flavanoid. Apple skin does indeed have lots of phytonutrients. But apple seeds, on the other hand, contain amygdalin molecule which produces cyanide once ingested and hence why consuming lots of apples seeds often causes stomach ache or even worse. Apple seeds and cherry pits which have small traces of cyanogenic acids are referred to as poisonous. Our body can detoxify small quantities of cyanide compounds but more than a few can cause symptoms of mild poisoning such as headache, dizziness, confusion, anxiety, and vomiting. Larger doses can lead to difficulty breathing, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and kidney failure. Click here to read more about the controversy stories about vitamin B17.
2. Grape: Grape skins are a great source of nutrition and contain up to 100 times the concentration of resveratrol as does the grape pulp. Resveratrol is a phytochemical that has been linked to the inhibition of cancer, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s. It is also highly prevalent in the seeds, especially those of globe and muscadine grapes, along with vitamin E, linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid), and other antioxidants. Fresh grape skin contains about 50 to 100 micrograms of resveratrol per gram. Research studies have shown that grape seeds display inhibitory activities against cancer, heart failure and other disorders of oxidative stress. However, although grape skin and seeds are great for humans, please avoid feeding grapes to dogs since consumption of grapes and raisins has potential health risks and may cause kidney failure in dogs. Click here to find more Health benefits of Grape seed extract.
3. Almond: Did you know that almonds are seeds and not a member of the family of nuts, such as walnuts and cashew? Yes, indeed, almonds are actually seeds not a nut. Although many people eat almonds and use almonds in bakery and even cooking, almonds are full of cyanogenic acids are referred to as poisonous. In fact before consumption, bitter almonds must be processed to remove the poison. Despite this requirement, some countries (such as New Zealand) make the sale of bitter almonds and apricot seeds illegal. Heating destroys the poison. In fact, as of September 1, 2007, it became illegal for 100% raw almonds and apricot seeds to be manufactured and sold in the United States – all almonds sold are now heat-treated to remove traces of poison and bacteria.
4. Apricot: Apricot skins are a great source of vitamin C and have lots of beta-carotene while the seeds have the same properties as apple seeds, mentioned above, and they are not good for you.
5. Cherries: Who doesn’t love Rainer cherries? Red cherries, sour cherries and Rainer cherries are very popular fruits – from eating raw to the delicious taste in a pie or adding it to your cocktail as alcoholic liqueur. Cherries are from the same family as plums, almonds, apricots, pears, and peaches and all contain highly poisonous compounds in their leaves and seeds called cyanide compounds. Almonds are also a member of this family but they are the only fruit which is harvested especially for its seeds. When the seeds of cherries are crushed, chewed, or even slightly injured, they produce prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide). Next time you are eating cherries, remember not to suck on or chew the pip.
6. Peach: Peach skin is full of nutrients and contains both vitamin C and A. Some people think that the skin can irritate the GI track because of the fuzzy/hairy texture of the skin, but this is not true. Peach skin has antioxidants and it is anti-inflammatory. But as mentioned above, avoid the pit as it contains trace amounts of cyanide.
7. Pears: Pears, among fruits, have large number of varieties in U.S. and Canada and the skin is full of phytonutrients and vitamin C and chloregenic acid – an essential antioxidant. However, as mentioned earlier, the seeds are toxic.
8. Plum: Plum skins are good for you with lots of beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, and small amount of tryptophan which helps you sleep better, regulates your appetite, and improves your mood. However, the seed or pit is toxic, as mentioned earlier and should be avoided.
9. Lemon and lime: Lemon and lime peels have about 5 times more vitamins that lemon juice and are edible (avoid non-organic ones) very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and a good source of Vitamin B6, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C and Calcium. Lemon peels contain citrus bioflavonoids which are very powerful at reducing your levels of oxidative stress and help fight cancer. Just underneath the peel is the pith which is white in color. The pith is extremely high in vitamin C and contains vitamin B6 and fiber, too. Trace amounts of salicylic acid (the main ingredient in aspirin) are found in lemon seeds. Click here to find more about the Health Benefits of Organic Limes.
10. Kiwi: Kiwi skin and seeds contain an oil that is high in omega-3 fatty acids as well as alpha-linoleic acids and have many nutritional benefits. These two essential acids are not produced by the body and therefore must be acquired through diet. They are paramount in contributing to joint, heart and metabolic health. Kiwi skin is edible and is an excellent source of dietary fiber as well as a flavonoid antioxidant and contains insoluble fiber, but again consider eating organic kiwis since kiwi skin and its hairy texture attracts pesticides used in non-organic farming. Seeds have always generally been considered edible. They are great sources of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids
11. Banana: The peel of the banana is edible and is actually high in fiber but tastes bland and not particularly palatable. Most bananas today are basically genetically created from a few crops in Kenya going back some 30 years ago. You can have some that are not in Central or South American but most are from a single strand of gene going back decades. You can eat the peel of a banana or mix it with your smoothie but please consider that with non-organic bananas, the peel contains pesticides, herbicides and chemicals using in so-called “conventional” farming. Be aware that bananas have a lot of potassium and eating too many bananas can cause muscle and joint pains.
12. Strawberries: Strawberries must be from fairy lands indeed. The seeds are themselves fruits. They are all good for you, the skin and the seeds. The aggregate of seeds of the fruit is derived from an aggregate of ovaries, and the fleshy part develops from the receptacle. Each 'seed' on the outside of the strawberry fruit is actually one of the ovaries of the flower, with a strawberry seed inside it. Both skin and seed have lots of fiber, lots of vitamin C and taste delicious. The green caps of strawberries are not recommended although some people think that it is the essential part of strawberries. Well, it isn’t. They are just the green parts of strawberries and no real study has shown that it has any worthwhile nutrients.
14. Pineapple: Pineapple is delicious and juicy and it has many nutritional benefits and the thick skin of a pineapple that is often discarded also has many nutritional benefits, such as strengthening immune system, keeping teeth healthy, and reducing skin inflammation. In its core, pineapple is full of bromelain, an enzyme which acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. Vitamin C, fiber, manganese, and copper can all be found in the core as well. Pineapple skin is also nutritious, containing vitamin C and bromelain. Keep in mind its texture, though. It’s very susceptible to chemicals and pesticides. If you are going to put it in your smoothie, make sure you use organic pineapples and wash them thoroughly.
15. Blackberry: Blackberry seeds contain oil rich in omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 fats (linoleic acid) as well as protein, dietary fiber, carotenoids, ellagitannins and ellagic acid. Additionally, the seeds are a great source of antioxidants.
16. Watermelon: The watermelon is one of the most nutritious fruits there is. Watermelon seeds are one of the best nourishing snacks you can eat to help keep your skin, hair, and fingernails healthy shiny. Its seeds contain zinc, iron, and fiber, and can have more than 10% protein, depending on the variety, and contain nourishing nutrients in them such as unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and linoleum acid. The outer skin has little to none nutrition but the fruit contains lots of vitamin C and also vitamin A. There is also vitamin B, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, potassium, manganese, beta-carotene, and lycopene in the seeds as well as phytonutrient which studies suggest may help against a variety of cancers.
17. Avocado: Avocado skin is not edible and has nutrients and there has been no study that has suggested any particular benefit with regards to the skin. On the other, avocado itself and its seed have been written about and researched for decades and have been recommended for its antioxidant properties and its anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies have shown that the darker-green flesh just underneath the skin contains its highest concentration of antioxidants, so make sure you scrape the inside of the skin, as best as you can, after peeling. The inside of the skin has phytosterols which are very unique healthy fats (beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol) and they help reduce inflammation in our body. Avocado seed, or pit, is high in potassium and antioxidants, and is one of the best sources of soluble fiber. However avocado seeds contain certain elements that are "anti-nutritional," (producing phytotoxins) such as tannins that may be toxic in extremely large quantities.The avocado pit (as a result of the tannins) is mildly toxic but edible in small quantities. An individual would have to eat a lot to see any side effects, unless that individual had a food allergy – in which case it is better to avoid it from your diet.
18. Cantaloupe (and Honeydew): The seeds are extremely high in protein and are also excellent sources of many essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B6, B12, D, E and K, as well as niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, betaine and choline. Minerals present in the seeds include calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, sodium, copper, zinc, phosphorous, manganese, fluoride and selenium. People in the Iran and China have been eating toasted cantaloupe seeds as a snack for centuries. And in 2008, a team of Iranian researchers analyzed the nutritional content of cantaloupe seeds and found that there are 21 g of protein, 37 g of fat and 34 g of carbohydrates in every 100 g of cantaloupe seeds. The researchers suggested that a drink made from orange concentrate and the milk extracted from cantaloupe seeds may be a possible dietary substitute for cow's milk and could be made into an infant formula. Cantaloupe skin is not edible since it is extremely porous and retains mold so you may want to avoid them.