Bananas are one of our favorite fruits.
What’s not to love? They’re technically berries, they come with their own carrying case, they have a large window for ripeness, you can buy them year-round for a low price, and they’re a perfect addition to your smoothie.
Not to mention that they’re nutritious. According to the USDA, bananas have significant amounts of vitamins B2, B5, B6, B9, and C, as well as magnesium, manganese, and potassium. That’s quite a punch for a low-calorie, low-cost food.
Bananas have all these nutrients because of phloem bundles.
Stay with us for a minute. “Phloem bundles” is the admittedly unappetizing name for those flat strings of banana that exist between the peel and the fruit itself. These bundles distribute water and nutrients throughout the berry.
If you throw those phloem bundles away, you’re not alone. Some people find the strings as unappealing as their name while others happily gobble them down. Nicholas Gillitt, a director at the Dole Nutrition Institute, told The Huffington Post that no nutritional studies had been done specifically on phloem bundles.
Still, he believes that they likely contain “more and varied types of fiber” than the rest of the fruit, and they’re likely a healthy addition to your diet.
You’re probably throwing away other important parts of your favorite fruits and vegetables.
For instance, you’re being wasteful if you toss peels of apples, oranges, and bananas, as they’re fairly nutritious. For example, apple peels contain an antioxidant called quercetin, which benefits the lungs and brain.
Orange peels have a compound called polymethoxylated flavones, which lower cholesterol and protect the heart. If the bitter taste of the rind doesn’t appeal to you, you can still get the benefits using only the zest.
If you’re looking for a delicious, nutritious skin, try a potato.
Potato skins have several B vitamins along with vitamin C, iron, calcium, and potassium. Potato skins also have a ton of dietary fiber, and given that most people need more of this nutrient, you might as well finish the entire spud.
Oh, and around Halloween, you’ll want to start saving your pumpkin seeds. Roasted pumpkin seeds contain magnesium, iron, and protein, so don’t toss them out.
Don’t throw away half of what you buy.
Many people eat Swiss chard for the leaves, but the stems are also edible. You can cook them alongside the leaves for a dose of glutamine, an amino acid that helps heal the body.
Similarly, the greens on beets and turnips are edible, though most people simply toss them in the compost. They taste wonderful when they’re blanched and sauteed in olive oil. When you make the most out of your veggie purchase, you’ll save money and receive a bigger dose of vitamins.
Deciding what parts of fruits and veggies to eat is a personal choice. Some people won’t eat a peel no matter how nutritious it is (and we can’t always blame them). However, by knowing what parts have the most minerals and vitamins, you can make an informed decision on what to eat and what to compost.