Are bananas healthy? Dieticians say we should eat the peel

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Bananas are the fourth most popular agricultural product in the world, with more than 100 billion eaten every year, according to thebananapolice.com.

Americans eat an average of 27 pounds of bananas per person every year.

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But we’re not taking advantage of all the nutrition bananas provide. 

The fruit of the banana is rich in potassium and fiber, and, according to the FDA, might help prevent asthma, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and digestive problems.

But most people throw the peel either in the garbage or the compost heap. But the peel also is packed with nutrition.

“Banana peel is eaten in many parts of the world, though (it’s) not very common in the West,” Laura Flores, a San Diego-based nutritionist, told Live Science. “It contains high amounts of vitamin B6 and B12, as well as magnesium and potassium. It also contains some fiber and protein.” 

Australian dietician Susie Burrell’s recent blog on banana peels, sponsored by Australian Bananas, is getting a lot of attention after she wrote about eating the skin.

“And not only are the peels an economical way to boost the bulk of any smoothie, baked good or even curry that you are making you will also boost your nutritional intake significantly when you add banana peels to your favourite banana based recipes,” she wrote. 

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Burrell isn’t suggesting you it the peel as-is. 

“Rather cooking the skin to soften it will help to break down some of the cell walls within the skin helping to make the nutrients easily to absorb,” she wrote.

Burrell says bright yellow banana peels have more antioxidants associated with fighting cancer, while green skins are rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which can help you sleep better.

Thebananapolice.com also says you can whiten your teeth with them. Rub the inside of a banana peel on your teeth for about two minutes every night. Gargling with saltwater apparently heightens the effect.