I’ve mentioned numerous times in my writings on high-performance blenders that rarely do I sell one to a customer who doesn’t purchase it with a primary goal of improving his or her health. Yes, these machines are well-known for their wide range of uses – ice cream, bread dough, etc. – and I’ll do my best to demonstrate as many of these functions as I possibly can at my roadshows. However, I’ve yet to start a single demonstration any way but with simple fruits and/or vegetables, showing my audience first-hand the power of the blender to create a juice or smoothie that is not only delicious, but yields as much nutrition as is possible with any given set of ingredients. How do I do this? When blending fruits, I always make a point to use every part of them that is good for us. Obviously, a ripe fruit’s flesh or pulp is going to be healthy. But with certain fruits, the skin is perhaps its most nutritious part. With others, it’s the seeds. A fruit’s stem, core, or pith (the white part just underneath the peel of citrus fruits) might each contain valuable nutrition that, when simply eating these fruits, will be wasted when we discard them – usually without a second thought. In taking advantage of a high-performance blender’s incredible power and design, though, a fruit’s entire nutritional content can be easily incorporated into delicious juices and smoothies.
In this article on high-performance blenders I reference their ability to break down a fruit or vegetable to what is commonly referred to as the phytonutrient level. Only at this level are the individual cell walls of fruits ruptured by the blender’s blades. This action then releases the vast majority of any given fruit’s thousands of phytonutrients – chemical compounds that studies suggest actually improve health in the body when accessed. Absent the breaking down of these cell walls, though, the vast majority of a fruit’s phytonutrients will be digested completely unutilized. As the aforementioned article relates, only a blender capable of delivering at least 1 horsepower of actual power (as opposed to listed or advertised horsepower) is strong enough to reach the phytonutrient level of one’s ingredients. Additionally, only a high-performance blender can produce a juice or smoothie that incorporates the entire fruit yet leave no textural trace of skin, seeds, core, etc. For most of us, it doesn’t matter how good a smoothie tastes if we have to chew tiny particles of fruit seeds before swallowing.
With a goal of maximizing the nutrition in juices and smoothies prepared with a high-performance blender, following are twenty of this country’s most popular fruits that contain skins and/or seeds that are traditionally discarded before ingestion. Next to each is listed what, if any, nutritional benefits they contain.
Apple: The skins of apples are a good source of vitamin A but are extremely high vitamin C. As much as 50% of the vitamin C in the fruit can be found in the skin. The skin also contains fiber, antioxidants, and quercetin, a flavonoid that is purported to have anti-inflammatory properties. Apple seeds, on the other hand, contain amygdalin, a molecule which produces cyanide once ingested. Large-scale consumption of blended apple seeds is not recommended.
Apricot: Apricot skins are good sources of vitamin C and beta-carotene. Their seeds, though, are similar in properties to apples.
Avocado: No documented health benefits for avocado skins could be found. However, the darker-green flesh just underneath the skin contains its highest concentration of antioxidants. Be sure to scrape the inside of the skin well after peeling. The avocado seed, or pit, is high in potassium and antioxidants, and is one of the best sources of soluble fiber on Earth.
Banana: The peel of the banana is edible and is actually high in fiber. With non-organic bananas, however, the peel is highly susceptible to pesticides and chemical residues.
Blackberry: Blackberry seeds are good sources of omega-3 oils, protein, fiber, and antioxidants.
Cantaloupe: The seeds found in cantaloupes are extremely high in protein and are also excellent sources of phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A, B-12, and D, as well as unsaturated fats and digestive enzymes. Its rind, although very high in fiber and potassium, is also extremely porous, making it susceptible to mold, pesticides, and chemicals.
Cherry: Cherry pits are similar in chemical makeup to apple seeds. It is probably best to remove them prior to blending.
Grape: Grape skins are great for you 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.
Honeydew: The properties of honeydew seeds and rind are almost identical to those of cantaloupe.
Kiwi: Kiwi seeds have always generally been considered edible. They are great sources of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. The skin contains flavonoids and insoluble fiber, but caution should be exercised before ingesting kiwi skin as its hairy texture attracts pesticides.
Lemon: Lemon peels are edible but non-organic ones are often waxed prior to shipping to protect the fruit from bruising. 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.
Lime: The lime is similar to lemon in terms of the nutritive properties of its peel and seeds.
Mango: Mango peel is rich in phytonutrients but, ironically, is at its most bitter when the fruit is ripest. Several edible uses for the large pit in the fruit have been discovered, too. However, none have been found in its raw form. For this reason it is advisable to discard the pit.
Orange: Only trace amounts of anti-fungal properties and vitamin B-17, a purported cancer fighter, have been discovered in orange seeds. There is, however, as much vitamin C in its pith as the rest of the fruit, as well as fiber, pectin, bioflavonoids, and antioxidants.
Peach: The peach pit contains amygdalin, just as apples do. It’s probably best to avoid it. The skin, though, is very nutritious, containing vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidants.
Pear: There are numerous pear varieties in the United States, the most common of which is the European. The seeds in this pear are toxic like apple seeds. The skin is a good source of vitamin C and chlorogenic acid, an important antioxidant.
Pineapple: The healthiest part of a pineapple is its core which is loaded with 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.
Plum: Plum skins contain fiber, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and antioxidants. The seed or pit, however, contains the same properties as apple seeds.
Strawberry: Strawberry “seeds” are actually tiny fruits, themselves, and are fairly good sources of fiber. If you’ve ever been to a live demonstration of Blendtec or Vitamix machines, you may have heard the demonstrator advocate the green caps of strawberries as being nutritious. I, however, have yet to find any study or documentation of any sort that backs this claim. My advice is to cut off the caps before you eat or blend the fruit.
Watermelon: The watermelon, as a whole, is one of the healthiest fruits on the planet. Its seeds contain zinc, iron, and fiber, and can be composed of up to 30% protein. The outer skin is not exceptionally nutritious, but the rind definitely is, containing vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, and lycopene, an especially beneficial phytonutrient that studies suggest may serve as a preventative for certain cancers such as prostate cancer.
As mentioned in specific fruits above, almost all conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables are done so with the application of pesticides and other chemical agents. Regardless of how nutritious the skin of a fruit may be, these benefits are almost always negated by pesticides if it is ingested unwashed. This is reason alone to select organically grown produce whenever possible. Should one wish to take advantage of the nutrition in traditionally-grown fruits, however, it should be considered essential that they be washed thoroughly prior to utilizing.
Also, keep in mind that thick skins and/or dense seeds and pits can also dramatically alter the flavor of recipes typically made with just the more conventional parts of the fruits. High-performance blenders certainly make the smoothest of smoothies, regardless of the composition of your ingredients. However, they can do little about flavor. The most nutritious smoothie in the world won’t benefit you if you can’t drink it because it tastes bad. This is why the ultimate decision on whether or not to blend the entire fruit is best left to the individual.
Sources for information in this article include livestrong.com, health24.com, whfoods.com, and wikipedia.org.