Vegetables are widely produced and consumed worldwide as raw, cooked, pickled and processed. Vegetables being cheaper are in easy access to the public than fruits especially in developing countries. Extensive utilization and industrial processing of these vegetables (especially carrot, cauliflower, beetroot, potato, onion and pea) produce an abundance of wastes including peels, pomace, stem, leaves and seeds. Waste is that part of any food that is fit for consumption but is normally discarded. It is estimated that one-third of the food is lost each year as wastes and this results in major nutrient losses. An interesting fact about vegetables is that not only their inner (flesh) part is rich in essential minerals, vitamins and bioactive compounds but also their outer peels and other wastes are a treasure of nutrients.
Anti-oxidants and Disease Prevention:
Vegetable peels are good sources of anti-oxidants especially potato peel possess even more scavenging ability than inner flesh. Free radicals are hazardous molecules that attack those essential molecules which are required for proper body functioning. Anti-oxidant are those compounds that have the ability to scavenge these life-threatening free radicals and thus protect the body from various diseases including Alzheimer’s, heart diseases and even cancer. It also plays an important role in maintaining bone health and immunity.
Dietary fiber is essential for maintaining a healthy life. It maintains gut health and reduces the risk of gastrointestinal disorders. It regulates digestion and aids in maintaining healthy body weight. Vegetable waste is a great source of dietary fiber especially onion skin contain an even higher percentage of dietary fiber than inner flesh.
Vegetable waste mainly cauliflower upper stem and leaf contains tremendous essential and non-essential amino acids. Amino acids are essential to building protein chains that play an important role in every part of the body. These are required to maintain muscle strength and deficiency of essential amino acids can lead to decreased immunity and body development.
Vegetable peels particularly potato peel and cauliflower waste contain various minerals including potassium, phosphorus and calcium. These minerals are necessary for maintaining body metabolism and growth. Minerals like calcium and magnesium are important for teeth and bone health. The deficiency of such minerals can lead to serious health hazards.
Vitamins are also present in a considerable amount in vegetable peels especially carrot pomace and pea peel that mainly contains vitamins A, B, C and K. These vitamins maintain the proper functioning of the immune system and healthy bones. These are also crucial for wound healing and healthy vision.
Author: Iqra Ashfaq (M.Sc (Hons) Food Science and Technology)
Address: University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan
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