A banana peel.
From cooking with banana peel flour to frying up some banana peel bacon, there are a number of ways you can turn the skin of this fruit into a healthy treat. Nicolas Balcazar/EyeEm/Getty Images
  • New research finds banana peels can be powdered and used to increase the nutritional value and shelf life of sugar cookies.
  • Experts say that banana peels are a source of powerful antioxidants and important vitamins.
  • They also say that while peels are nutritious, they don’t replace any food groups but could be part of a balanced diet.

Increasingly, an item once considered inedible is being turned into delicious meals. Now researchers have found the banana peels we typically compost or throw away can be processed into nutritious flour.

A new study finds that using the right amount of banana peel flour in sugar cookie batter creates a more nutritious cookie that’s still tasty.

“The main objective of this study was to convert raw banana peel into a valuable product because it is rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants, which are very beneficial for health,” study author Faizan Ahmad, assistant professor at Aligarh Muslim University, told Healthline.

Researchers baked with banana peel

The researchers began by blanching the banana skins, and then they dried and ground them into a fine powder.

They mixed different amounts of this banana peel flour with butter, skimmed milk powder, powdered sugar, vegetable oil, and wheat flour, to create five different batches of sugar cookies, and baked them.

Ahmad and his team discovered that replacing 15% of wheat flour with banana peel flour produced browner and harder cookies, possibly a result of the increased fiber from the peels.

A healthier cookie

According to researchers, the cookies containing banana peel flour were more healthful, with less fat and protein, higher amounts of phenols, and improved antioxidant levels than those made with only wheat flour.

Ahmad emphasized that utilization of banana peel in the food product formulations could help improve nutritional quality while also helping prevent various diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, constipation, colon cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

“It can also help in reducing blood sugar levels and cholesterol,” he added.

The best batch

A trained panel found that the cookies containing the least banana peel powder (only 7.5%) had the best texture and highest overall acceptability compared to the other four batches.

This batch also kept well and tasted the same as the wheat-only versions even after being stored at room temperature for three months.

“Therefore incorporation of banana peel in the formulation of cookies can be used as a good alternative in order to enhance their nutritive value and shelf life,” Ahmad noted.

Banana peel is rich in nutrients

“According to our research, utilization of bananas can be a good alternative in the formulation of bakery products since they are consumed on a large scale,” said Ahmad.

He pointed out that cookies supplemented with banana peel have improved “functional and nutritional properties” and enhanced shelf life because banana peel is rich in antioxidants and phenols.

“Polyphenols are strong antioxidants which have been researched and shown to improve blood flow and circulation within your body, which can assist in reducing your blood pressure and improve your heart health,” said Amargo Couture, a registered dietician at Staten Island University Hospital in New York.

Some banana peel history

Emily Feivor, a registered dietician at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills in Queens, part of Northwell Health in New York, said that in non-westernized countries, many chefs and cultures leave the banana peel on in cooking.

“Those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet may use the peels as a meat alternative in recipes such as ‘banana peel bacon’ or ‘banana peel carnitas,’” she added.

Feivor said that peels provide a good source of fiber as well as a similar texture that mimics protein and there are many recipes available on the internet that utilize them.

“Recipes as simple as boiled, sprinkled with cinnamon and eaten with a spoon to a more complex preparation of caramelization to be used as an ice cream topping,” she said.

A way to reduce food waste

“For those looking for ways to reduce food waste, this may be an option,” said Feivor. “

She also said that for people seeking ideas to experiment with by trying new ingredients, banana peel may be something that challenges their culinary abilities.

“Especially if you’re gluten-free and would like to increase fiber in gluten-free baking,” said Feivor.

However, she cautioned that although peels provide additional fiber and vitamins/minerals when used as an ingredient, they don’t take the place of any food group but may be used as part of a balanced diet. 

Clean peels before using

Feivor recommends washing and scrubbing banana peels thoroughly to remove any bacteria, dirt, pesticides, or contaminants from the exterior.

Feivor also said peels are another interesting way to add healthful variety to our diets.

“If you’re looking to include a new texture and taste in your cooking, then try a recipe with a banana peel as an ingredient,” she said. “The benefits may help your body in disease prevention.”

The bottom line

New research finds banana peels can be powdered and used to increase the nutritional value and shelf life of sugar cookies.

Experts say that banana peels are a source of powerful antioxidants and important vitamins.

They also say that while peels are nutritious, they don’t replace any food groups but could be part of a balanced diet.

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