You may be wondering if it's OK to eat the peel of your banana. Read on to learn the truth about banana peels and whether or not you should be incorporating them into your recipes.
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If you, like me, have been peeling your bananas before adding them to banana bread, banana cake or your morning smoothie, you're doing it wrong. They're totally, completely edible and by adding just one more step, you can keep that banana peel out of the landfill. 

What are the health benefits of eating banana peels?

There is limited nutritional data about banana peels (the database EatingWell uses to analyze its recipes, for instance, doesn't have nutrition information for them). But according to research published in Process Safety and Environmental Protection, banana peels are 71% to 83% fiber. Most of us don't eat enough fiber, but getting enough can help you lose or maintain a healthy weight, promote healthy digestion and slash your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and other chronic diseases.

What are the risks of eating banana peels?

There aren't many but if you are going to eat your banana peels, give them a good scrub under running water first. According to the Environmental Working Group, banana cultivation is pesticide-intensive. Few pesticides make their way to the fruit itself, but there could be residues on the peels. If this is of concern to you, consider using organic bananas, which are less likely to have traces of commonly used pesticides.

a yellow banana peel on a designed background
Credit: Getty Images / Burazin

Because banana peels are high in fiber, you might notice some digestive discomfort if you start eating lots right away. Pureed peel mixed into banana bread batter will only give you a bit in each slice, but a whole peel in a single-serving smoothie is another thing. So start slowly and be sure to drink water alongside this new fiber-rich addition to your diet. Water helps fiber move smoothly though your system, rather than back you up.

What are the environmental benefits of not discarding banana peels?

The peel makes up 30% to 40% of the banana, and humans discard approximately 3.5 million tons of them every year. Anything we can collectively do to cut back on food waste is a good thing. Discarded food is the biggest type of garbage in landfills, where it emits methane and other greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. 

How do you eat banana peels?

If you've been wondering if you can eat raw, cooked or even frozen banana peels, the answer is yes! If you are going to eat your banana peel, know that—just like the fruit itself—the riper the peel, the sweeter it will taste.

If you plan to blend the bananas into smoothies, slice the unpeeled bananas before freezing and add them right out of the freezer into the blender jar. You can freeze your unpeeled bananas whole, though, if they're destined to be turned into banana bread or cake. Trim the tough blossom end and the tip of the stem (in our testing, we found that most of the stem was soft enough to blend). Then thaw the bananas before pureeing, and stir the puree into the batter. 

On a savory note, Nadiya Hussain, host of Nadiya's Time to Eat on Netflix and season 6 winner of The Great British Baking Show, grew up eating banana peels. "My favourite way to eat it is with fermented fish and prawns, but I also love cooking it like pulled chicken," Hussain said in an email.

Vegans have leaned into the almost-meaty quality of banana peels to make plant-based versions of bacon, Bolognese sauce and pulled "pork." People in the Netherlands can even buy the latter from a company called Banana Business. Researchers are also experimenting with using banana-peel flour as a gluten-free alternative to make breads and noodles. And some non-food uses are popping up as well: Circular Systems created a fiber called Agriloop that is made from various crops including banana peels.