Beverley has a degree in science and additional certifications in nutrition and aromatherapy. She's published on and offline.
The Benefits of Eating Fruit Peels
Many people, myself included, tend to throw away fruit peels, especially the tough, distasteful ones like kiwi and bananas. I also peel the skins of certain fruits because of pesticides, wax, or my inability to digest them.
Research, however, shows that peels often contain the greatest concentration of fruit nutrients, Antioxidants being one of them. These compounds are known for their potential in preventing or lowering the risk of chronic and other diseases.
Six of the top antioxidant-rich fruit skins are apples, bananas, citrus fruits, kiwis, mangos, and peaches. So, what type of antioxidants do they contain? How do they benefit us?
1. Apple Peels
Most of us know the benefit of eating apples. Research indicates that apple skins have a higher concentration of phenolic antioxidants, especially flavonoid glycosides anthocyanins, catechins, gallic acid, and antioxidant vitamins C and E.
Health Benefits of Apple Peel Antioxidants
Apple peels have been used in several experiments to determine their potential in preventing diseases that may result from cellular oxidative damage. For example, one study looked at the response in inhibiting the growth of liver cancer in humans. The results were quite promising.
Other beneficial antioxidant activity includes anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antitumor, and anti-cardio diseases.
How to Enjoy Apple Peels
You can consume apple skins by snacking on sliced whole apples with your favorite nut and/ or seed butter spread, diced in cereal or yogurt, or blended in smoothies or juice. Apple peel powder can be purchased as an alternative.
2. Banana Peels
Bananas are high up on the fruit popularity chain. But we don’t think of the peels as edible. However, research shows that they contain more antioxidants and other phytonutrients than banana flesh.
The peels have a rich supply of antioxidant flavonoids, especially carotenoids, catechins, quercetins, other glycosides, tannins, and alkaloids.
Health Benefits of Banana Peel Antioxidants
Studies suggest that banana skin antioxidants may have anticancer, antimutagenic, and cytoprotective properties.
How to Enjoy Banana Peels
If you’re nauseated by the bitterness and/ or toughness, you can add chopped banana peels to your smoothie blends. They also taste better when baked separately or with flesh intact. There’s also banana peel flour.
Other Nutrients in Banana Peels
Banana peels may have other bioactive nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins B and K, minerals iron, copper, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc.
3. Citrus Peels
Citrus fruit peels, including orange, tangerine, grapefruit, limes, and lemons, are highly sort after. They are popular ingredients in traditional Asian herbal medicine.
The peels' rich antioxidant content includes carotenoids such as alpha and beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, flavonoid glycosides such as hesperidin, the nobiletin in tangerine, limonene in lemons, limes, and oranges, and vitamins C and E.
Health Benefits of Citrus Peel Antioxidants
Studies indicate that the antioxidant activity of these phytocompounds may protect our cells from cancer, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, and rapid aging. They may also boost our immune system, free our skin from bacterial and inflammatory conditions, and heal digestive issues.
How to Enjoy Citrus Fruit Peels
Candied citrus peels are used in baked goods such as fruit cakes. Fresh zest is added to salads, soups, marinades, and yogurt. Fresh chopped peels are added to beverages. Dried orange peel is popular in herbal tea-making, and tastes delicious. Powdered peels are also available.
Other Nutrients in Citrus Peels
Citrus peels may also contain vitamins A, and B-vitamins including folate, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and selenium.
4. Kiwi Peels
I have always found kiwifruit peels with that coat of brown fuzz unappetizing. By discarding them, however, I’ve missed out on a healthy supply of antioxidants.
Research tells us that kiwi peel contains carotenoids, flavonoids, caffeic acid, other important polyphenolic antioxidant compounds, and vitamins C and E.
Health Benefits of Kiwi Peel Antioxidants
Kiwi skin may help protect against cardiovascular and other chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
How to Enjoy Kiwi Peels
I’ve learned that kiwi skin fuzz can be easily scraped off with a spoon or towel. There are also varieties with thinner, hairless, more palatable skins such as the golden kiwifruit.
Other Nutrients in Kiwi Peels
Kiwi peels also contain healthy supplies of dietary fiber and folate.
5. Mango Peels
Who thinks of eating mango peels? Very few people, I suspect. Yet research suggests that mango peels have boatloads of antioxidants.
Mango peel antioxidants include carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, glycoside flavonoids mangiferin, anthocyanins, quercetin, lignans, and vitamins C and E.
Health Benefits of Mango Peel Antioxidants
According to research, mango peel antioxidant compounds may be antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-cardiovascular diseases, and neuroprotective. They may also promote vision, bone, and skin health.
How to Enjoy Mango Peels
You can use mango peel zest, chop it up and bake it, or blend it in smoothies. Powdered mango peel, which will alleviate the toughness and bitterness, is available.
Other Nutrients in Mango Peel
Mango peel may also contain healthy supplies of dietary fiber, vitamin A, calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, and sodium.
6. Peach Peels
Peach peel fuzz may be unappetizing to some. If you can overcome that, your body will thank you. Peach peels have insurmountable amounts of antioxidants when compared to the pulp.
The antioxidants in peach peels include carotenoids, other polyphenols such as caffeic and chlorogenic acids, and vitamin C.
Health Benefits of Peach Peel Antioxidants
Studies show the antioxidant effects of peach peels may include protection from oxidative damage in cells that could cause heart, liver, kidney, and brain diseases and aging activity.
How to Enjoy Peach Peels
Fresh peaches sliced thinly may make them more palatable. Add them to salads, and smoothies, use them as a dessert ingredient and eat plain or with cottage cheese.
Other Nutrients in Peach Peels
Peach peels may also be high in dietary fiber, vitamin A, folate, iron, potassium, and zinc.
What Are the Side Effects of Consuming Fruit Peels?
Fruit peels are often sprayed with insecticides and pesticides. Some like apples are coated with wax for shelf appeal. Both substances contain chemicals that may cause serious side effects. Additionally,
- Fruit skins like apples may contain high levels of salicylate compounds which may cause allergic reactions, especially in individuals who suffer from hives.
- Kiwi peels are highly concentrated with calcium oxalate or raphides which may cause mouth irritation and kidney stones. Other allergic reactions are also possible.
- Mango peels have high levels of the compound urushiol which may cause allergic reactions similar to that of poison ivy.
- Peach skins may cause digestive issues.
There is no medical evidence to support fruit peels or fruit peel antioxidants curing, treating, or preventing diseases. Always consult your healthcare provider for diagnoses and accurate medical information before consuming foods as medicine.
The peels of apples, bananas, citrus fruits, kiwis, mangos, and peaches contain loads of antioxidant carotenoids, flavonoid glycosides, and similar compounds. In fruits like bananas, the concentrations in the skin are higher than in the pulp or flesh.
Research suggests that antioxidants may prevent oxidative damage in our cells. Such lesions may be responsible for several chronic diseases including cancer and diabetes.
If fruit skin bitterness, toughness, pesticides, or wax coatings are an issue, there are ways to overcome that. We can purchase organic fruits, wash and scrub the peels thoroughly, or buy certified organic fruit peel flour. Some fruits like kiwi also have varieties with more palatable skins.
Keep in mind that some individuals are allergic to fruit peels.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2022 Beverley Byer