What Are the Benefits of Eating Banana Peels?
Bananas have been a highly cultivated fruit for thousands of years. Many species of primate consume the entire banana, peel and all, which may have led indigenous peoples to follow suit. Although not common practice in the West, peoples of Asian countries eat banana peels, but they are usually cooked in some capacity. They are not nearly as sweet as the flesh, but they are rich in some nutrients, especially potassium, and can be used for a variety of other health benefits.
The flesh of banana is a rich source of many nutrients and considered high in carbohydrates. The sugar content in a banana is highest when the skin has turned completely black, which indicates that the starches have all been converted to sugars such as sucrose, fructose and glucose, as cited in "Biochemistry of Human Nutrition." The flesh is high in vitamins B-6 and B-12, magnesium and potassium, but also contains some protein and fiber. In general, the peels of fruits contain additional nutrients and fiber that complement the inside flesh. The peels of apples, oranges and kiwis are good examples and more commonly eaten in Western countries, although banana peels seem to be better appreciated in India and Southeast Asia.
Banana peels are also rich sources of potassium and contain much more soluble and insoluble fiber than their flesh. Dietary fiber promotes digestion and bowel movements and can reduce blood cholesterol levels. Banana peels also contain tryptophan, which increases serotonin levels in the body and affects mood, much like the drug Prozac does. According to "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," researchers in Taiwan discovered banana peel extract can ease depression because of its effect on serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for balancing mood and emotions. Others found that eating two banana skins a day for three days increased blood serotonin levels by 16 percent....