What do you do with the lemon peel after you squeeze out the juice for a salad, poha, upma or nimbu paani?
If you have been throwing it, stop doing so now. By trashing the peel, you are throwing away a lot of easy health you can score every day.
For starters, the rinds deliver more nutrients than the juice. The yellow peel is a mine of Vitamin C, A, folate, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Not only do the nutrients help in strengthening the bones, but also help prevent bone-related diseases like osteoporosis, rheumatoid and inflammatory arthritis.
The Vitamin C in it helps synthesise collagen, neurotransmitters and a fat-transporting molecule called ‘carnitine’. It also works as a potent antioxidant that protects your DNA from free radical damage, besides helping to fight teeth and gum-related issues and help maintain oil hygiene.
There is a lot of citrus bioflavonoids, which cut oxidative stress from the body and deep cleanse our system — flushing out the toxins. This detox helps cleanse the liver, strengthen the capillaries, boost the blood circulation and do wonders for our skin — keeping wrinkles, acne, pigmentation and dark spots at bay.
The plant compounds found in lemon peel, called hesperidin and diosmin, do our heart great favour by mopping out the bad cholesterol and keep the Ldl cholesterol in check.
The rind is also loaded with potassium that plays a role in maintaining your heart function, muscle contraction and digestive capabilities, and also helps maintain the right blood pressure in our body to keep hypertension and stroke away. The rind is great for those predisposed to kidneys stones as citric acid may help prevent kidney stones by increasing urine volume and increasing urine pH, creating a less favourable environment for kidney stone formation. Its components salvestrol Q40 and limonene help prevent cancer particularly breast cancer, colon cancer, and skin cancer.
Peel the health from the lemon. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
One tbsp of peel will give you only 3 calories and 0.6 grams of fibre. And pectin, a soluble fibre found in them expands in your stomach, helping you feel full for longer making them a fabulous weight loss tool. It is important to understand that lemon juice contains no pectin — lemon juice-based drinks will not promote fullness in the same way. The dietary fibre content also encourages healthy digestion by regulating the bowel movement and preventing constipation.
The peel consists of two distinct layers. The colourful outer layer, or zest, contains the flavour, while the soft white inner portion, or pith, is mostly bitter. Use the whole peel to maximise the benefits. My mom keeps the used squeezed out peels in a glass of water, and then keeps sipping from that glass through the day. I think this is a great (and easy) way of scoring the goodness.
The peel contains many times more nutrients than the lemon or the juice. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Freeze the lemons, then grate them. You can add this grated peel to your salad, a cup of tea, or mix them with your meats. The slight citrus flavour will elevate your old meat recipes. They go very well with grains like quinoa, ragi, poha and dailya too — just add them in while boiling the grains.
You can make a lemon seasoning as well. Dry the lemon peel in an oven at 200-degree temperature. Once dried, you can crush or powder the peel and make your own Vitamin C powder.
Or add whole peppercorns and coarse sea salt, and grind this mixture to make a fabulous tangy seasoning that you can sprinkle over your soups, subzis and dals.
You can also make a tangy herbal oil. Mix a cup of olive oil, the zest of two lemons, generous bunch of fresh thyme or basil, a teaspoon each of chilli flakes and granulated garlic and a few whole black peppercorns. It’s perfect to use as a dressing for your salads or to marinate your meats.
You can even make lovely lemon sugar. Add finely chopped lemon to brown sugar (shakkar) and blend till well combined. Add this to your tea and lemonade.
Not just for your dietary intake, you can rub lemon rinds on your fingers, nails, and hands to leave them smelling fresh after and banish the lingering odour after chopping pungent vegetables and spices like garlic or onions.
Uses are enough and plenty — just don’t trash those yellow peels. Ever.