Don’t throw away your banana peels – they can be turned into tasty, healthy treats

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  • We typically compost or throw away banana peels and don’t consider them edible.
  • But new research shows they’re actually a source of antioxidants and vitamins.
  • The research team tried various batches until they found "the one", which was both nutritious and tasty.

Next time you’re about to toss your banana peels into the trash or compost pile, don’t – you'll miss out on a lot more nutritional value the fruit offers.

A recent study found that banana peels that are blanched, dried and ground into a fine flour can be pretty useful for baked goods. Best of all, they taste just as nice, if not better, than wheat-based products. It’s a win-win in our eyes.

In taste tests, a group of researchers at Aligarh Muslim University, India, converted raw banana peels into a flour rich in fibre, magnesium, potassium and antioxidant compounds. 

READ MORE | Antioxidants: everything you need to know

Research suggests that antioxidants can improve blood flow and circulation in the body, reduce inflammation and protect against chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Even better: when the team replaced small amounts of wheat flour in bread and cakes with the banana-derived flour, the baked goods turned out to be more nutritious and tasty.

Reporting their findings in the journal ACS Food Science & Technology, they explain:

“... cookies enriched with BPF (banana peel flour) were obtained with improved antioxidant properties and total phenolic content without altering their physical and nutritional properties.” Phenols are the most abundant antioxidants in the human diet and can be found in fruit, vegetables, certain cereals, coffee beans and tea leaves.

Experimenting with different batches

For the experiment, the researchers mixed different amounts of ripe banana peel flour with butter, skimmed milk powder, vegetable oil, powdered sugar and wheat flour. This resulted in five different batches of biscuits which were then baked.

Unfortunately, replacing 15% of wheat flour with banana peel flour caused the biscuits to be browner and harder. This could be due to the peels’ higher fibre content, they say.

READ MORE | Ditch the juice and eat the whole fruit to prevent disease

But there was a successful batch. Not only did it have the best texture, but it tasted the same as the wheat flour versions – and could be stored at room temperature for up to three months. This winning batch contained the least amount of banana peel powder (7.5%). 

In addition to the higher amount of phenols and better antioxidant activities, the biscuits with the banana peel flour were also more healthful and had less fat and protein, the team says.

The future is bright

Experimenting with banana peels is not a new interest. Chefs and home cooks have tried incorporating them into meals, but due to the skin being extremely fibrous, it was unpleasant to eat raw, a news release on the study explains

Thankfully, the new experiment, which is the first of its kind to be done with baking biscuits, now offers us a better solution to make use of our banana peels.

READ MORE | Eating fruit more often keeps depression at bay, researchers say

With discoveries constantly being made, who knows, soon we might discover that banana peel flour is useful in other baked goods and foods too. Just last year, researchers found that the yellow skin of the banana can act as a natural food colourant in cakes.

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