Melanie Marino is an accredited practicing dietitian based in Melbourne, Australia. 


As I ventured into my local seafood restaurant recently I was amazed at the amount of people I observed removing the skin from their fish. There seems to be mixed information about whether we should leave our skins on or not. If you’re the sort of person who delights in ripping the crispy skin from a chicken and shoving it in your mouth then this article is for you.

Some of us simply can’t resist the crunchy skin on fresh Tasmanian salmon while others are quick to go for the ‘skin off’ option. For those of you that can’t resist the skin, the good news is that this part of the salmon and the grey part underneath contain a concentrated amount of omega-3 which can help everything from arthritis to depression. Of course, the fat still contains calories so if you are not skin and bone then you might want to skip the outside.

Chicken skin is another juicy part of life that many of us just chook away. When your thrice cooked duck hits the table or when you smell that BBQ chicken in the rotisserie it’s the outside of the bird getting under your skin. It might ruffle your feathers to learn that the majority of fat in chicken skin is actually heart-healthy unsaturated fat. Keeping the skin on chicken won’t drastically increase your calorie intake or your risk of heart disease.

Fruits are another food where the thought of eating the skin might be a little unapeeling. By stripping away the skin on any fruit you are removing the layer that contains the highest concentration of nutrients. Colourful peel on most fruits is where the beneficial phytochemicals are. Most peel is also high in pectin which helps lower blood cholesterol and control blood sugar.

Not all of us delight in the thought of eating the outside of a lemon or an orange. These fruit peels can be perfectly grated into a salad dressing or baked goods though. This will give you a ton of vitamin C, B6, calcium, magnesium and potassium. The white peel and the flesh is very high in fibre too so don’t peel with so much zest that it disappears.

If your star fruit is more likely to be an apple or pear than a furry kiwi fruit then don’t despair. Apple skins have been shown to help prevent cancer. This is because the majority of antioxidants lie in the skin. The skin of an apple has been shown to have three to four times as many phytonutrients and twice as much fibre as the flesh. The humble pear skin provides antioxidants and anti-inflammatory flavonoids so Packham into your diet too.

Vegetable peel also causes cornfusion among the general public. Potatoes can be washed and cooked and provide more fibre, iron, potassium and vitamin B than the flesh. Carrot skin contains all the carotene and antioxidants. If you don’t see the skin then you won’t see the benefits. Squash, eggplant and zucchini should also be cooked with skin on to gain the greatest number of antioxidants.

Remember to wash your skins to ensure you remove any residual pesticides and dirt. If the thought of leaving the exterior on some foods makes your skin crawl then try grating the skin or eating it in small quantities. The core message is to enjoy your skin wherever you can so you don’t strip any of the benefits from your diet. If you can keep your skins on at the gym then you can also keep them on in the kitchen.


Inside Out

Inside Out