In Southeast Asian countries, banana peels are dehydrated and steamed for a tasty treat. In India, they are made into chutneys and curry. Our culture, however, is slower to think of a banana peel as anything but a prop used in an easy April Fool’s Day prank. Sure, we use bananas for banana bread and ice cream, but the peel? Hardly ever. Does the rest of the world know something we don’t? Turns out, the skin of our favorite portable snack is highly dense in nutrients, making the lowly banana peel a verified superfood. These four essential elements found hidden in the yellow casing may be enough to convince you to hold on to your peels.
1. Tryptophan: Banana peels are brimming with the essential amino acid that raises our serotonin (aka happiness and well-being) levels and aids us in diving into a deeper sleep. Previous research has shown that eating banana peels (two per day, for three days) can increase brain levels of serotonin by 15 percent.
2. Soluble and Insoluble Fiber: The peel has significantly more fiber than the banana itself, which comes with its own set of benefits. The high fiber keeps weight in check by making you feel fuller longer, and lowers cholesterol levels by preventing it from sticking to artery walls. Fiber also creates space in the colon — by keeping you, ya know, regular — for probiotic and good bacteria to grow, ultimately boosting your immune system.
3. Anti-Carcinogenic Compounds: These powerful compounds work to destroy cancer cells and enhance our natural defenses against the disease in the first place. Banana skins are ripe with cytoprotective agents, or chemical compounds that protect our cells from harm, and antimutagenic agents that prevent the mutation of cells into cancer. They also contain a high amount of carotenoids and polyphenols — antioxidants that are powerhouse immune warriors.
4. Potent Nutrients: If you thought bananas were rich in potassium, you’ll be blown away by the peel. They’re also chock full of B vitamins for increased vitality, magnesium for muscle and nerve function and lutein for night-vision support. The natural anti-fungal and antibiotic agents found in the peel work a lot like those you get from the doctor to kill bacterial infections, not to mention provide you with smooth, clear skin.
How to Eat Banana Peels
But how do you go about incorporating the peels into your diet? Go all out with an authentic Indian banana-peel curry recipe, or spread some banana peel chutney on your sandwiches. Banana peel tea is a soothing way to wind down in the evenings. You can also throw the whole banana into the blender, tips cut off, to power-up your smoothies. The Eat Clean cooks have found fun ways to use the peel with dishes like banana skins with black-eyed peas and green banana curry.
How will you add banana peels to your diet? Get creative and share your ideas with us on Twitter!
(Photos via Getty)