The banana is one of the most accessible and versatile fruits on the planet! It’s rich in lutein, B vitamins, potassium, zinc, vitamin A, magnesium, vitamin C, and other essential nutrients that provide optimal functionality.
But what about the banana peel?
The other day I was watching a cartoon when I saw a character repeatedly slip and fall on a banana skin. Now I’m not sure when banana peels became the butt of cartoon jokes—or why some people are so quick to discard them—but I guarantee you won’t think of the banana peel as an afterthought after reading about its plethora of health benefits.
It’s Time to Look at Your Banana Peel a Little Differently
Did you know that in Asia, it’s more common to see people eating banana peels? This is likely because the banana skin in Asia is slightly sweeter and thinner, making it much more palatable and easier to chew. In North America, however, the banana peel lacks sweetness and is rather stringy, making it difficult (if not annoying!) to eat.
To make banana skin more palatable, it’s worthwhile to cook it for about 10 minutes. You can boil your bananas or cook them in a frying pan to alter the texture and flavor.
Banana Peel Nutrition 101
The banana peel is a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber that can help lower cholesterol; thus limiting the risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart attacks. For this reason I don’t recommend putting banana peels in a blender, as this takes away the fibrous value found in the webbing of the skin. Banana peels also contain lutein, an antioxidant proven to help battle cataracts and macular degeneration while protecting the eyes from damaging UV rays.
Banana skin is also relatively high in tryptophan, an amino acid that increases serotonin levels and affects the mood by promoting relaxation and calmness. Studies show that eating two banana peels per day for a minimum of three days straight can actually boost blood serotonin levels by 16%!
Five Little-Known Benefits of the Banana Peel
Aside from the nutritional benefits mentioned earlier, here a few ways banana peels can help improve your overall well-being:
- Teeth whitener: For a whiter, shinier smile, try rubbing the inner portion of a banana peel on your teeth. Mimic a brushing movement and duration (about two minutes), then rinse. Repeat this process and you should begin to see results within one week!
- Give skin a moist, vibrant glow: You can use banana peels to give your skin some added shine and plumpness! I recommend crushing an entire banana (peel included) in a bowl and creating a mask to help battle lines and improve moisture. The vitamin E can help with wrinkles, so rub the peel (or mushed banana mixture) over your face and let it sit for 20–30 minutes before washing it off with lukewarm water.
- Wart removal: Banana peels work as a way to cure common plantar warts. Simply take a piece of banana peel and tape it over the wart before bed; when you wake up, it should be gone.
- Battle acne: Before heading to bed, rub the inside of a banana peel over your face, then give your face a good wash in the morning. You should see improvements in about a week, but if you notice increased irritation, stop immediately.
- Protect your eyes: Banana peels can help protect your eyes from UV rays. Leave the peel out in the sun and then run it on your (closed) eyes.
The next time you eat a banana, instead of throwing the peel away, see if you have any use for the skin. Eat or apply the peel to your own skin to reap all the rewards of this multifaceted fruit.
“Banana peel holds promise for moody patients: scientists,” The Taipei Times, September 18, 2007; http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2007/09/18/2003379274.
Oliver, D., “8 Unusual Uses for Bananas,” Huffington Post September 24, 2013; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/24/beauty-benefits-of-bananas_n_3978471.html.
“Warts,” University of Maryland Medical Center web site, March 20, 2014; http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/warts.