Does the Apple Skin Have the Most Nutrients?

Fresh Apple being peeled with paring Knife
Close-up of an apple being sliced over a cutting board. (Image: tab1962/iStock/Getty Images)

If eating a juicy red apple involves stripping the peel away first, you might be doing yourself a nutritional disservice. Yes, an apple is still nutritious without the peel, but chomp the exterior of an apple, and you'll reap even more nutritional and health benefits than eating just the flesh alone.

An Apple With the Peel

One large apple with the peel supplies 116 calories, no fat and 5.4 grams of fiber. That same apple delivers 239 milligrams of potassium, a mineral that's essential to heart and muscle health, as well as 10.3 milligrams of vitamin C. You'll also get 120 international units of vitamin A and 4.9 micrograms of vitamin K when you eat a large apple with the skin.

Under the Skin

An apple without the peel is still a healthy food, but you do lose out on some of the nutrients you would get if you ate the skin. A large apple without the skin contains 104 calories and 2.8 grams of fiber. That's a significant fiber loss compared to an apple with the skin, and eating plenty of fiber keeps your digestive system working right. That same apple without the skin contains 194 milligrams of potassium and 8.6 milligrams of vitamin C. There are 82 international units of vitamin A and 1.3 micrograms of vitamin K in an apple without skin.

You Might Want to Eat the Skin Because ...

In addition to the higher doses of certain nutrients, the apple skin offers several other health advantages. Eating the apple skin might reduce your risk of certain types of cancer, including liver, breast and colon cancers, according to Cornell University. The peel contains compounds called triterpenoids that have the power to destroy cancer cells, as well as prevent new cancerous cells from growing, Cornell University reports. A 2009 article published in the "Journal of Food Science" reports that the antioxidants in apple peels can help protect your heart health by preventing the oxidation of polyunsaturated fats. Oxidation of fats increases your risk of heart disease.

An Apple a Day

If you just can't stand the apple peel, keep eating skinless apples because the flesh is nutritious, and the compounds it contains can reduce your risk of heart disease, asthma and diabetes, according to a 2004 article in the "Nutrition Journal." Consider a baked apple because the baking process softens the skin and can make it more palatable. Core a whole apple, sprinkle it with your favorite spices and bake it until it's soft. You might try grating apple peel into homemade muffins and bread, too. This allows you to get the nutrients in the peel even if you don't enjoy the taste or texture of the skin on its own.

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