Our junk-food heavy diets aren’t getting us the recommended levels of nutrients and vitamins we need—but ironically enough, eating literal garbage might do the trick. That’s because Americans toss out some of the most nutritious parts of whole foods, for no good reason. In fact, a 2017 study found that the food wasted at the retail and consumer levels of the U.S. food supply per person per day contained 5.9 grams of dietary fiber, or 23 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for adult women—as well as significant amounts of protein, vitamin D, calcium, and potassium. Given that women under-consumed dietary fiber by 8.9 g per day that same year, the solution seems kind of obvious.
Americans often discard things like produce skins and stems, which are a fantastic source of additional fiber and nutrients. Simply leaving them on can help you eat more and toss less, says Kate Geagan, R.D. “The outer layers of fresh fruits and vegetables are also rich in antioxidants because that’s where plants need them most to protect from UV damage and pests.”
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We were surprised to learn that some so-called garbage food actually tastes great too. Here, eight suggestions to get you started.