Simple Answers for Healthier Families
Weird fact about me: I can’t stand bananas. That said, they still have their uses, like banana bread, as a sleep aid, and to ward off aphids from roses. Wait… what?? Seriously, banana peels have a few surprises up their sleeves.
Banana fruit is high in carbs, potassium, and vitamins C and B. The peel also boasts an impressive health profile. Here’s a breakdown of the nutrients:
You’ll also find trace amounts of some inert metals, including strontium. Our body naturally has some strontium, which may help strengthen teeth and bones.
We need carotenoids for healthy vision. A 2012 article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at carotenoid’s role in eye protection. Researchers reported lutein helps our eyes filter light and protects the tissues from sun damage. Lutein and other carotenoids rich foods do the same with skin and can help protect from sun damage.
Different cultures have used banana peels for centuries to help address health concerns, and now we have established science backing it up.
Like elderberry syrup, oregano, and other plants, banana peels are high in antioxidant phenols. Not only that, banana peels have potent germ-fighting properties. Researchers found compounds in banana peels fight a variety of microbes that cause wound infections. In one study it was shown effective against the yeast Candida albicans.
In 2011, researchers looked at the antioxidant capacities of different banana peels. They found unripe, green banana peels have more antioxidants than riper peels. The higher the antioxidant levels, the more free radical scavenging it can do.
That’s not to say ripe peels don’t have their benefits… they are better at inhibiting nitric oxide activity. Nitric oxide works as a signaling molecule in the body and plays an important role in certain body functions. However, too much nitric oxide in the body leads to inflammation and chronic diseases. Researchers are exploring how inhibiting nitric oxide could lead to more positive outcomes in diseases.
The carotenoids and antioxidants in bananas can also help other organ systems. In a 2016 study in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, researchers looked at banana peels for liver protection.
Polyphenols from banana peels increased glutathione, the body’s main detox hormone. The peels also reduced inflammation and protected liver cells.
As men age, it’s common for the prostate gland to enlarge, causing bladder problems, according to the Mayo Clinic. Research indicates banana peel extract may support prostate health.
Scientists are exploring banana peels as a way to purify water. They’re thought to act as an adsorbent and bind to heavy metals and pesticides, like charcoal.
In 2013, scientists used banana peels to remove pesticides from the water. A 2020 article in BMC Chemistry also found banana peel powder removes the toxic heavy metal chromium from water.
So what does all of this mean for us? While I won’t be shoving banana peels in my water filter anytime soon, eating banana peels could help with detox.
Both the banana and the peel contain amino acids that our body needs to make melatonin, the sleep hormone. According to an article in Forbes:
“Potassium and magnesium are natural muscle relaxants, and bananas are a good source of both. They also contain the amino acid L-tryptophan, which gets converted to 5-HTP in the brain. The 5-HTP is then converted to serotonin (a relaxing neurotransmitter) and melatonin.”
The big question of course is how do we harness the benefits of banana peels? Fortunately, you don’t have to chow down on raw, unpeeled bananas to see results. You can even use banana peels in an organic garden or for pets.
Since banana peels are so high in nutrients, they have some handy uses in the garden. Here are some ways to incorporate banana peels into your gardening routine:
Because they’re so high in nutrition, scientists are studying banana peels for animal feed. Researchers found banana peel could safely replace up to 100% of the rabbits’ typical grain-based diet.
You can also add banana peels to chicken feed. While some chicken owners feed their brood banana fruit, you can also use the peel. Chickens may not go for whole banana peels, but the peel can be chopped, dried, and added to their normal feed.
It’s important to note that most bananas are heavily treated with pesticides, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. While they don’t make EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, they’re definitely not clean. Since the peel is the part getting sprayed it’s best to opt for organic bananas here. Fortunately they’re widely available and very affordable.
Here are some more ways to incorporate more banana peels into your diet.
This one is nice and simple: You can add some banana peel (along with the fruit!) to a smoothie recipe!
Dried and ground banana peel makes an antioxidant-rich flour. Add it to almost any baked good to replace some of the flour in the recipe. Too much banana flour though can add a bitter taste, according to 2018 research in the Journal of Science and Food Agriculture.
You can make your own or get banana peel flour here. This antioxidant-rich powder works well in muffins and cakes like:
One of the simplest ways to get more banana peel in your life is to make banana tea. Chopped fresh or dried banana peel will work. Keep in mind that green peels have more antioxidants, but they’re also more drying. Here’s a banana peel tea recipe.
Yes, this is really a thing! Soaked in a marinade and then cooked, banana bacon is sweet, smoky, and chewy.
Common in tropical cultures, banana peel chutney is a great way to get more mileage out of your bananas. Here’s a recipe for an authentic banana peel chutney.
As you can see, banana peels have many amazing uses for gardens, plants, insects, and of course humans. Packed with nutrition and health benefits maybe now we’ll think twice before throwing that peel out!
What banana peel uses are you going to try out first? Any other banana peel tips we missed? Drop us a comment and let us know!
Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder and CEO of Wellness Mama and Co-Founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a wife and mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.
I seem to recall placing banana peels on my skin when I had a bad reaction to poison ivy. Supposedly, it helps soothe the itching and moisturizes the skin. Can be used in a pinch for an itchy bug bite too.
Frozen peels are soothing to burns
Since turning vegan last year google banana peel vegan recipes. I have made meatballs etc. Very interesting
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