August 09, 2022
Though it is common to eat banana peels in other parts of the world, most Americans have never seen the appeal.
Still, banana peels are slowly becoming more popular in the United States. They have been popping up on people's plates as a veggie "bacon" or replacing pork in "pulled peel" sandwiches. They also can be used to make smoothies, vegan carnitas, banana peel stirfry and banana peel curry.
Eating a banana peel raw can be an unpleasant experience because they are extremely fibrous, but small amounts added to baked goods and other dishes have been shown to provide an additional boost of nutrition.
Banana peels are about 71% to 83% fiber, but they also contain additional amounts of potassium and other nutrients. Fiber is not only necessary for healthy digestion, but it also helps prevent type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and other chronic conditions. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure levels, protects against bone loss, and reduces the risk of kidney stones.
The latest research suggests that adding banana peel flour to sugar cookie batter makes the treats more nutritious and satisfying to eat than using wheat flour alone. Other studies have tested banana peel flour in breads and cakes, but this was one of the first to test it in cookies.
To make the flour, researchers peeled ripe, undamaged bananas and then blanched, dried and ground the skins into a fine powder. They then combined different amounts of the powder with butter, skimmed milk powder, powdered sugar, vegetable oil and wheat flour to make five different batches of sugar cookies.
In taste tests, a trained panel found that a small substitution of banana peel flour – about 7.5% – led to the best texture and highest acceptability. The cookies also had less fat and protein, higher amounts of phenols and better antioxidant activities than traditional sugar cookies.
Utilizing banana peels is also good for the environment because it reduces waste. About 120 million tons of bananas are produced worldwide each year, resulting in about 3.5 million tons of banana peel waste. The peels contain carbon-rich, organic compounds that take up to two years to decompose, producing greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
For the safest way to use banana peels, experts advise buying organic bananas and washing the peels thoroughly to get rid of any pesticides.
People who eat a lot banana peels right away may experience some stomach discomfort. People are advised to add banana peels to their diets slowly, and to drink plenty of water with them, to prevent digestion problems.