Skins, Stalks & Supplements. A Pharmacist and Herbalist’s Guide to Getting the Most out of What You Eat
We all know that we should eat well, yet how many of us are guilty of letting our diet slide when life gets busy? Don’t feel guilty, you’re not alone. When it comes to getting enough vegetables in our diet – many of us fall short of the daily recommended amount of 5-6 servings [i].
In fact, according to Nutrition Australia, Australians of all ages on average have a poor diet with only 4% of us who meet these vegetable requirements [ii].
With this week marking National Nutrition Week – Nutrition Australia is encouraging healthy eating by educating consumers on how to try for five servings of vegetables through food waste management and breaking stereotypical vegetable consumption habits [iii].
A simple way to increase your daily intake of fruit and veg is to include those often forgotten and discarded part of our produce, such as the skins, stalks and leaves.
We often peel off the skin on our fruit and veg, but in many cases we’re throwing away health boosting ingredients. Instead, step away from your peeler. Unpeeled vegetables contain insoluble fibre, which helps reduce our absorption of cholesterol [iv], as well as helping us stay fuller for longer.
Potato skin contains more iron and potassium [v] – something we’d be missing out on if we removed the skin.
How to cook: Bake a potato in its skin in the oven without oil to make healthy and tasty chips.
Eggplant is another vegetable with a nutritious skin. The purple glow of the eggplant is packed with a power antioxidant called nasunin, which may help fight aging and has anti-inflammatory properties [vi].
How to cook: Add to a tray or roast veg or include in a curry instead of meat for a healthy alternative.
Don’t throw that orange peel away! It contains four times as much fibre as the inside fruit. [vii] Oranges, and their peel also contain flavonoids which are been shown to contain anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory properties.
How to enjoy: Grate the skin and sprinkle on meats, salads or fish dishes.
Somewhat surprisingly, many stalks contain even more nutrients to your diet than the actual vegetable itself [viii]. This is especially true for broccoli and cauliflower. The stalks from these veg have more fibre, vitamin C and calcium than the floret portions of the vegetable [ix].
Increase your crunch! Celery leaves are packed with nutrients. They contain five times more calcium and magnesium than the actual stalk [x], which is great for bone health [xi] and overall energy [xii].
How to enjoy: Sautéing them or adding them to a salad will give you an extra nutritional kick.
Another unassuming vegetable that has nutritious leaves is beet leaves—they have a higher percentage of antioxidants, fibre, calcium and iron than the popular purple bulb portion [xiii].
Don’t throw away broccoli leaves. Around a handful will provide you with 90 per cent of your daily vitamin A requirements (compared to the three percent the florets provide). [xiv] Vitamin A is important to protect the body against age related disease.
How to enjoy: Blanch in boiling water, then saute with olive oil, garlic, salt and nuts.
Some people find that natural supplementation is also great for boosting your body’s ability to get the most energy and nutrients out of their diet. Options for this include Ubiquinol (the active form of CoQ10) – it is a potent antioxidant found naturally in our bodies and supports healthy energy synthesis [xv]. Diet is an important factor for overall health, and supplements that are rich antioxidants like Ubiquinol may help individuals on a cellular level to derive the most from their foods.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional.
Thank you Gerald and Nutrition Australia – we hope this helps you get more nutrition out of the food you eat (and possibly have less food waste too) – win-win! I certainly learned something new – no more celery leaves in the waste for me.