Health Tips: Appealing peels

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Banana peels are a mainstay of slapstick comedy. Why? Well, Danny DeVito says it’s because “you have to give people permission to laugh. That’s why they would always cut to the banana peel in the Laurel and Hardy movies.”

Turns out that there are a lot more uses for fruit and vegetable peels than finding amusement in another person’s minor mishap. They’re loaded with phytonutrients that can keep you from slipping into poor health. Tip: Wash skins very well and use organic produce if you’re eating the peel.

Peach skin delivers almost twice the number of polyphenols as peach flesh -- and a lot more fiber. A lab study showed that peach peel helps tamp down oxidative damage in the kidneys, liver and brain. 

Eggplant skin (that’s purple) contains a powerful antioxidant called nasunin that tamps down inflammation and a flavonoid called anthocyanins that promotes visual acuity, may protect against cancers and protects cardiovascular health.

Apple peels are highly appealing, for flavor and crunch -- and their nutrients. A raw apple with skin contains up to 312% more vitamin K, 70% more vitamin A, 35% more calcium and potassium and 30% more vitamin C than a peeled apple. Also, skin a medium apple and you get about 2 grams of fiber; retain the peel and you’ll get 4.4 grams.

Watermelon rind is edible -- raw, pickled or sauteed -- and contains the amino acid citrulline, which boosts the libido, improves erectile dysfunction and dilates blood vessels, and the rind has fiber that eases digestion. 

Getting your picky eater to pick those peas

Alton Brown, the Food Network’s chief food grump and chef extraordinaire, says the reason kids don’t eat their peas -- or other vegetables -- is because parents cook them into “gray, lifeless orbs.” That seems unfair to the millions of good home cooks who know how to steam, season and sneak well-prepared veggies onto their child’s dinner plate. Nonetheless, millions of times a day somewhere in the U.S., a kid refuses to eat the vegetables that parents dish up.

Well, according to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, it isn’t the cooking -- or the kid -- that’s to blame. Sometimes it’s the particular makeup of the microbiome in a child’s mouth that makes Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage so repugnant. When enzymes from these vegetables and certain bacteria in saliva get together, they can produce unpleasant, sulfurous odors. Some families carry those oral bacteria -- others don’t. (You may try probiotics to change the oral biome, but there aren’t outcomes from studies backing that up.)

Most times, however, picky eating has to do with how parents react to the pickiness, say Australian researchers. Looking at 80 studies, they concluded that it’s best overcome in kids 10 and younger by a relaxed parenting style, eating together as a family and involving kids in food shopping and cooking. The least effective ways to get kids to eat their veggies: pressuring a child to eat, offering rewards for eating, eating in front of the TV and very strict parenting.

We suggest you chew that over -- and good luck!

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