13 Fruits and Vegetables You Shouldn’t Peel—And 9 You Should

Updated: Jul. 01, 2022

Food experts share what fruits and veggies have edible peels. Here are some you should avoid peeling, and others you should peel, to reap the most nutritional benefits.

Peeling some potatoes on white table
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Here’s why you should eat the peel

The skin or peel of fruits and vegetables are generally higher in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals than the flesh, according to Malina Malkani, RDN, creator of the Wholitarian Lifestyle. Unpeeled fruits and vegetables may have up to 33 percent more fiber than those without the peel. And antioxidant levels in the skins of fruits could be up to 328 times higher than those found in the flesh, Malkani says.

Still, Alyssa Pike, RD, the manager of nutrition communications for the International Food Information Council Foundation, says the amount of nutrients in each peel differs by the type of fruit or vegetable. And the only skins Hillary Cecere, RDN for Eat Clean Bro, doesn’t recommend eating are the ones that are too tough or not tasty to eat. With that in mind, if your goal is also to increase the health-promoting nutrients in your diet, experts say it’s best to eat the following fruits and vegetables without peeling them. (And make sure you peel the rest!)

Close up of pile of ripe cherries with stalks and leaves. Large collection of fresh red cherries. Ripe cherries background.

Don’t worry about peeling berries, cherries, or grapes

Malkani says it’s better to eat berries, cherries, and grapes without peeling them. Aside from the fact that it’s challenging to peel cherries and grapes, and not really possible to peel most berries, the peels offer lots of antioxidants and nutrients. Grape skin is particularly beneficial since this part of the grape has the highest amount of antioxidants in the whole fruit. The boost in antioxidants is why these are some of the 10 of the healthiest fruits for your body.

A group of ripe peaches in a bowl

Avoid peeling pears, peaches, and plums

Peach, pear, and plum skin each have a lot of fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants. A 2013 study published in the journal Nutrition Research even found that removing peach skin results in 13 to 48 percent fewer antioxidants. For fruits and vegetable you don’t peel, and those you do, always clean them thoroughly before eating.


Avoid peeling apples and apricots

Apples are one of the fruits Cecere especially recommends not peeling. “Apple skin has insoluble fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, and the flavonoid quercetin,” she says. Although apple skins contain so many nutrients and fiber, they are a higher pesticide fruit. So make sure you wash them well or consider buying organic apples. Apples and apricots are some of the healthy foods that are more nutritious than you realized.


Avoid peeling kiwis and cucumbers

Kiwi skins are surprisingly edible, Malkani says. The kiwi skin has lots of vitamin C, and eating it triples the amount of fiber, Cecere says. Try slicing it really thin to warm up to eating the fuzz, she suggests. As for cucumbers, you’ll want to keep the skin for the vitamin K, fiber, and potassium—but you can do without that waxy layer. “Cucumber skins can be waxy, so be sure to wash well and even use a paper towel to rub off the waxy layer,” Cecere says.

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Avoid peeling eggplants and zucchini

Keep the eggplant skin on if you want the extra fiber, flavonoids, and magnesium, according to Cecere. Another reason to keep eggplant skin and zucchini skin on too is because of water. Both zucchini and eggplant have a high water concentration; zucchini is 95 percent water, and eggplant is 92 percent water. The skin of these veggies is where most of the nutrients are.

Charlotte potatoes background which are a popular early variety potato
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Avoid peeling potatoes

The peel of potatoes contains fiber, iron, vitamin C, potassium, and folate, Cecere says. Instead of stripping away those nutritious benefits, use a vegetable brush to scrub the potato gently before cooking. Also, here’s why you should never store potatoes in the fridge.

Fresh mandarin oranges texture
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Save the peels of citrus fruits

The peels of citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges are edible if you cook or grate the skin into zest, Malkani says. Oranges and other citrus fruits are not only some of the best antioxidant-rich foods you can eat, but their peel is also one of the food scraps you didn’t know you could eat.

Decorative orange pumpkins on display at the farmers market in Germany. Orange ornamental pumpkins in sunlight. Harvesting and Thanksgiving concept.

Save the peels of pumpkins and winter squashes

Pumpkins, technically a fruit, and winter squashes have skins you can only eat if you cook and soften them, Malkani says. (There’s a good chance you’re making these 20 other produce mistakes, too.) Try these powerfully healthy pumpkin recipes.

Close up of three ripe fresh pineapples on dark background , top view

Always peel tropical fruits

Pineapples, papayas, mangos, bananas, melon, and lychee are tropical fruits that you should always peel. These fruits have skins that are so hard to chew and digest that they are considered inedible, Malkani says. (Also, find out what other foods besides pineapple you can eat raw.)

Fresh avocado on dark background

Always peel avocados, garlic, and onions

Like tropical fruits, avocado skin is tough to digest and not something you should eat. Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, folic acid, and monounsaturated fats. As for garlic and onions, the peel is not especially beneficial or tasty—so it’s worth taking that layer off. (This is the easiest way to peel garlic.)

orange peels
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It comes down to personal preference

There are many benefits in eating the peels of most fruits and vegetables, but it’s not the only nutritious part. So Malkani, Pike, and Cecere agree: If the peel of a fruit or a vegetable is particularly hard or unappetizing, it’s better to eat it without the skin—and benefit from the nutrients within—than to avoid eating fruits or vegetables altogether. (This is what happens to your body when you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.)