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Athletes Should Eat the Peel

Plus, the simple trick for getting rid of pesticides.

You can reduce pesticides by peeling your produce first. However, that may mean missing out important nutrients, especially when it comes to apples. “The skin of an apple has 90 percent of the pesticides, but 50 percent of the nutrients,” says Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side.

That’s why she recommends always buying organic apples and eating the peel. If that’s not possible, you can also wash conventional produce in baking soda. Research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that soaking apples in a water and baking soda solution for 12 to 15 minutes removed 80 percent of a certain fungicide that can penetrate the peel. The mixture also removed 96 percent of a specific insecticide. Washing in plain tap water was less effective.

It could be that baking soda degrades pesticide molecules, helping to clean up your fruit. To do this, soak produce in a bowl of two cups water and one teaspoon of baking soda. 

Another healthy peel: watermelon rinds. They contain the amino acid citrulline, which research shows can improve oxygen uptake during an endurance workout. To balance the bitterness of the rind, eat it pickled, recommends Steven Satterfield, executive chef and co-owner of Miller Union in Atlanta. Pickling them in lime juice, salt, vinegar, sugar, and spices makes for a zesty addition to any salad. 

You can also try lemon salt (which is just the citrus's peel and a pinch of salt) to punch up the flavor of fish and meat dishes. The aroma from the peel has also been shown to boost mood levels.