Oranges are one of the most versatile fruits in the world, used in cooking, for juicing, and eating as a snack.
We use the peels for zesting, but apart from that they are usually thrown away. Some people claim that orange peels contain important nutrients and should actually be eaten.
Can you – and should you – eat orange peels? Read on to find out the facts.
1. Orange Peels Contain Nutrients and Plant Compounds
Oranges are famous for being high in vitamin C, but the peels are rich in fiber, vitamin C, and plant polyphenols.
1 tablespoon of orange peel provides nearly 3 times more vitamin C than the fruit itself, and around 4 times more fiber.
Orange peel also contains vitamin A, folate, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin B6, and calcium. The polyphenols it contains may help prevent and manage some chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Orange peels contain a good amount of polyphenols hesperidin and polymethoxyflavones, both of which are undergoing research for potential cancer prevention.
Nearly 90% of the essential oils in orange peels are made up of limonene, which has been studied for its anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties.
2. Possible Drawbacks to Eating Orange Peels
The Peels May Contain Pesticide Residue
Pesticides are often used on citrus fruits to protect them against insect damage and mold.
Studies show that the fruit inside the peel have very low or undetectable levels of pesticides, but the peels do contain a significant amount of pesticides.
Chronic pesticide ingestion has been linked to negative health effects, like an increased risk of cancer as well as hormone dysfunction. However, these effects are more commonly associated with chronically high levels of exposure to pesticides, rather than the small amounts found in the skins and peel of fruits.
It’s still a good idea to wash oranges under hot water before eating to reduce the amount of pesticides on the peel.
Peels Can be Hard to Digest
Peels are very high in fiber, and have a tough texture which can make it difficult for the body to digest. Eating them could cause stomach cramps or bloating.
They Don’t Taste Great
Orange peels are dry and tough, as well as bitter-tasting, which may put many people off.
3. How to Eat Orange Peels
It’s best to eat peels in small amounts to prevent an upset stomach.
You can cut thin strips of peel and add to salads or smoothies, or they can be made into marmalade or candied.
Orange zest is a good way to get smaller amounts of orange peel into your diet. Add it to yogurt, oatmeal, muffins, salad dressings or marinades.
Don’t forget to wash the peels first if you want to eat them.