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Don’t Toss Those Kitchen Scraps — Here Are 6 Surprising Ways They Can Boost Your Health

Next time you start to throw away your kitchen scraps, think again — those discards actually can be a boon to your well-being. Read on for 6 genius ideas for kitchen scraps that will help you live a happier and healthier life.

1. Broccoli stems boost weight loss

Broccoli stems are milder and sweeter than florets — plus they’re a breeze to roast, steam and stir-fry, since they cook more evenly than the delicate buds do. More good news: According to University of Michigan researchers, eating a few cups of broccoli stems weekly will help you lose up to 20% more weight on any eating plan . Thanks go to the kitchen scrap’s rich stores of sulforaphane, a compound that switches on genes that force abdominal fat cells to burn their stored fatty acids to produce heat and energy. Ounce-per-ounce, the stems contain just as much sulforaphane as the florets, but many of us toss them out after prepping, losing the half of the sulforaphane we paid for.

Tip: If you’re using a speedy cooking method (such as stir-frying) peel the stems, first, to remove the tougher outer skin. Plus, the stems last longer in the fridge than the florets, so you can double your weekly sulforaphane intake by saving those cut stems and using them in another recipe.

Related: Frozen Broccoli Recipes for Fast + Healthy Meals — Plus the Thawing Trick That Makes All the Difference

2. Orange peels ease anxiety

Every sweet, juicy orange that we savor leaves a pile of peels that normally end up in the trash. But the colorful skin of citrus fruits brims with aromatic oils that encourage the release of soothing delta and theta brain waves, often within two minutes of the first sniff, Japanese researchers say. Infuse your home with the familiar scent of oranges, by simmering some peels in a few cups of water on the stove, and experts say you could quash anxiety for up to three hours. For an on-the-go Rx, fill a repurposed spice jar with chopped and dried orange peels.

Related: 20 Brilliant Uses for Orange Peels

3. Coffee grounds heal skin bothers

Kitchen Scraps: Women scrubbing with coffee in health spa Photo taken indoors of young women with beauty treatment

If your skin gets dry, rough and flaky, exfoliating twice weekly with coffee grounds could quickly restore your glow. Gritty coffee grounds (like pricey, store-bought exfoliators) gently remove dead surface cells, which stimulates your immune system to repair and replace the underlying epidermal tissues. Plus coffee grounds contain a plant compound, caffeic acid, that dials down tissue inflammation and encourages the growth of healthy new skin-firming collagen, Polish researchers say. To do: Combine ¼ cup coffee grounds, 2 Tbs. brown sugar and 2 Tbs. olive oil. Gently massage this mixture into skin, let sit two minutes, then rinse.

Related: What To Do With Leftover Coffee Grounds: 13 Brilliant Uses That Save You Time & Money

4. Beet stalks lower blood pressure

Blood pressure tends to creep up, and become harder to control, when it’s cold outside and your body is struggling to stay warm (a problem dubbed “winter hypertension”). Thankfully, Hungarian investigators have discovered that those often-limp beetroot stalks and leaves that we often just toss in the trash boast the same artery-relaxing, pressure-lowering compound, nitrate, found in beets themselves. Save and freeze beet tops, and then add a few to your morning smoothie each day, and you could cut your systolic blood pressure by 10 points and your diastolic readings by 8 points — often within three hours of the first dose, and for up to 24 hours per serving.

5. Romaine ribs deepen sleep

The thick-ribbed dark outer leaves on a head of romaine can look a bit banged-up by the time you get your groceries home — and most of us discard them before making salads. But those leaves are packed with a plant compound, lactucarium, that prods your brain to produce the muscle-relaxing, sleep-inducing neurotransmitter, GABA. No wonder scientists reporting in the journal Antioxidants say enjoying a cup of mild-tasting romaine leaf tea at bedtime can help you drift off within 30 minutes, plus it improves sleep quality by as much as 68%. To do: Simmer two chopped romaine leaves in 8 oz. of water for 20 minutes; strain and enjoy.

6. Pineapple cores soothe pain

If your joints ache, try working pineapple cores into your diet instead of tossing them in the compost. Pineapples contain a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, bromelain, that can reduce joint stiffness and pain as effectively as OTC painkillers do, report scientists in the journal Plants. And pineapple cores contain up to 25% more of this ache-ender than the fruit’s flesh! Simply boil the core for a few minutes to soften it, then puree and stir into yogurt, or chop and sprinkle over oatmeal, fruit cocktail, salads, pizza and more!

Related: Grilled Pineapple Is That Thing You Think You Won’t Like — Then You Try It And Fall In Love

For more life hacks, click through the links below:

What to Do With an Avocado Pit? Surprise! You Can Use It for Cooking, Beauty, Crafts + More

17 Brilliant Uses for Ice Cubes (Besides Keeping Your Drinks Cold)

15 Brilliant Uses for Sponges

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