Peeling a banana doesn’t require the nimblest of fingers. It’s Nature’s version of a twist-off bottle cap. Anyone with any kind of digits can get to the tasty slip of sweetness inside. But what if even that was too much of a bother? Why not just chomp right through the skin and be done with it?
Well, some experts suggest you can do just that. As Australian dietitian Susie Burrell notes on her blog, eating the whole banana may go a long towards reducing food waste and upping your nutritional intake.
“You will increase your overall fiber content by at least 10 percent as a lot of dietary fiber can be found in the skin of the banana,” she writes. “You will get almost 20 percent more Vitamin B6 and almost 20 percent more Vitamin C and you will boost both your potassium and magnesium intake.”
But the real question is, would you like to bite into a whole banana? Or does the idea of eating a banana peel sound more like an insult you might sling at someone? Maybe your face is all puckered up right now at the very thought of it.
There’s an important caveat. Burrell, mercifully, doesn’t advise hunkering down on the whole banana. Instead, you’re going to want to remove that skin and cook it on its own — breaking down the tough cellular walls and making those nutrients more readily absorb-able (and the whole affair, perhaps a little less gag-able.)
Burrell is hardly alone in endorsing whole-banana consumption. As our sister site, Treehugger points out, Americans devour 12 billion bananas per year. That’s 12 billion banana peels needless discarded — and maybe even 12 billion opportunities someone will slip and have a terrible accident.
Just think about all the accidents we might prevent if people ate their peels more often. (Photo: Levent Konuk/Shutterstock)
It also represents a lot of nutrients and other potential benefits being chucked to the curb. According to a study published in the Journal of Immunology Research by scientists at Seoul National University, a typical yellow peel packs substantial amounts of potassium, dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fats, and essential amino acids.
Those nutrients do a lot of good for a body — particularly all that potassium, which can regulate blood pressure and keep hearts and kidneys healthy.
Sure, there’s plenty of potassium already in nature’s sweetest candy — about 422 milligrams in the average serving. But with an added 78 milligrams of the stuff — along with so many other nutrients — why not eat the wrapper too?
Well, aside from a banana peel needing a little preparation to be fully digestible, there are also those agricultural ne’er-do-wells known as pesticides. The outer layers of fruits and vegetables tend to stockpile somewhat worrisome levels of pesticide residue, although federal bodies like the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were established to keep undue amounts of pesticides out of the food chain.
Still, as with just about anything you aim to put in your mouth, a banana peel needs careful washing. That’s likely to minimize any potential pesticide menace. Even better, if you’re going to try eating the skin, consider picking up the organic variety at your local farmers market.
If you happen to like the taste — it can be a little bitter — congratulations. You’re making a more positive impact on your body, and the world.