Friday, March 16, 2012

The Discarded Portions, And What You're Missing

With certain foods, it's pretty commonplace to have a little scrap left behind.  Think of that yummy corn cob, or perfectly ripe banana, or absolutely delicious watermelon.  After a few pieces of each, your plate is littered with  cobs, rinds, and peels.  We don't think much of it, and usually toss our apple cores into the woods just like anyone else.  But what exactly are you throwing away?  Did you know that in certain cases, these "inedible" portions of food actually contain many nutrients that could do your body some serious good?  In fact, some may contain tons MORE health benefits than is easily fathomed.  And you know what?  Some don't taste so bad, either.

Watermelon Rinds:  This one you might have tried before, and you'd be happy to know that your instincts were correct in trying to munch away on this green nutrient goldmine.  In fact, the watermelon rind is actually healthier than the watermelon flesh, and though while it may not taste as good, consuming watermelon rind can give you a heaping load of beta carotene, vitamin A, citrullene (an important amino acid), lypocene, and vitamin C.  Now don't confuse the rind with the dark green outer skin, the rind we're talking about is the lighter green layer between the skin and the pink flesh.  The outer skin is a little harder to stomach (though I've definitely done it on several occassions.)  Next time you have a watermelon, feel free to keep chomping for just a few more bites, just to make sure you get a little of that very healthful rind.

Banana Peels:  You know, it's really only us humans who believe we're too good for a peel.  Many primates eat the entire banana, and by doing so gain a lot more of the fruit's total health benefits.  That's right, the peel, though slightly ropey and initially unappetizing, contains all sorts of goodies that your body will absolutely love.  They're rich with fiber, both soluble and insoluble, much moreso than the fruit itself.  This fiber can assist in raising good cholesterol levels and promoting healthy digestion.  Banana peels also have a significant amount of lutein, an important antioxidant.  Banana peels also contain a very large amount of potassium, a very crucial mineral which when balanced with proper sodium intake allows the management of bodily hydration.  To make banana peels a little more appetizing, wait until the fruit is very ripe, and the peel should be both thinner and slightly sweeter.  You can also boil or cook the peel, and many Asian cultures cook bananas IN their peel, and eat them as one total meal.  Cool, right?

Corn Cob:  OK, now seriously, who eats the cob of the corn?  Actually my loyal readers, I've done so on several occassions.  If the corn is boiled well enough, the cob is most definitely soft enough to consume, and doesn't taste half bad, in my opinion at least.  As far as health benefits go, I can't seem to find many on the internet, which means I must be a little bit strange to consume the cob.  However it's common knowledge that corn cobs can be ground up and mixed into cattle feed to increase fiber, so it's safe to say that the cob is extremely rich in fiber.  I can definitely agree with this, as they fill you up EXTREMELY quickly (one of fiber's most useful attributes, besides healthy digestion).  If you want to try a bite, I suggest you try eating the small end of the cob first, as it's likely to be the softest and most easily consumed. 

Apple/Pear Cores:  Some people just go all out, and don't let a single bit of their precious fruit go to waste.  Have you ever known someone who eats apple cores, or maybe the cores of pears?  I can tell you that I don't mind eating the core of a pear, however apples tend to be a little past what I can handle.  The seeds in apples are extremely bitter (which you've probably found out if you've accidentally eaten one) which is due to the fact that they're very mildly poisonous, containing a derivative of cyanide.  Don't worry, you'd need to eat a TON of apple seeds to actually poison yourself, but it's just something to keep in mind.  Feel free to eat the core of either fruit, just know that unlike banana peels and watermelon rinds, you're not consuming any sort of normally ignored health beneficiaries.  

Mushroom Stems:  For some reason, people like to throw away the stems of portobello and white button mushrooms.  Why is that?  The stems are just as tasty as the mushroom itself, and contain all the same health benefits, such as cardiovascular system support, anti inflammatory properties, antioxidants, and large portions of vitamins such as vitamin B2, B3, B5, and minerals like selenium, copper, and potassium.  Seriously, eat these things, they're tasty and great for you!

Peach Pits:  Just kidding...don't eat these...big choking hazard.

Avacado Pits:......Seriously? .........No.

So there you have it, a little look into the forbidden parts of food.  Some things you may want to definitely try out, a few others you can keep avoiding, knowing you're not missing much.  But don't worry, no matter what, as long as you're consuming the foods associated with these normally discarded portions, you're doing your body a whole bunch of good.  Eat up, and as always...



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