Bananas are insanely good for you. Not only are they packed with 12% of your recommended daily dose of potassium and 20% of vitamins C and B6, but a single piece of the fruit also boasts 3 grams fiber. They are also a great source of resistant starch, a type that naturally suppresses your appetite, ultimately aiding in weight loss. Did we mention they are also super delicious, whether you are eating them straight from the peel or blended into a smoothie, added to baked goods, or sliced up in your oatmeal? But according to one nutritionist, if you want to really amplify the health benefits of bananas, you should be eating the peel as well.
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“Specifically, you will increase your overall fiber content by at least 10 percent as a lot of dietary fiber can be found in the skin of the banana,” Australian nutritionist Susie Burrell wrote in a blog sponsored by Australian Bananas. “You will get almost 20 percent more vitamin B6 and almost 20 percent more vitamin C and you will boost both your potassium and magnesium intake.
She doesn’t suggest munching on the skins but cooking the skin to soften it first, which will “break down some of the cell walls within the skin helping to make the nutrients easily to absorb,” then blending it into recipes or smoothies.
She also maintains that the color of your banana skin makes a difference nutritionally. Green banana skins are both rich in the amino acid tryptophan (associated with good sleep quality) and also in resistant starch, which will benefit gut health. A ripened banana with yellow skin boasts a higher proportion of antioxidants associated with anti-cancer effects, she says.
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But before you start boiling your banana skins, keep in mind that while banana peels are edible and do have some proven nutritional value, scientific evidence to back up Burrell’s weight loss claims is lacking.
“There is no published research on this, so we don’t know for certain how eating them may impact weight loss,” Health’s contributing nutrition editor, Cynthia Sass, RD, explains. While theoretically nutrients like fiber, prebiotics, and antioxidants may help with weight loss, because the studies are lacking, there is no established form (green versus ripe), specific amount/dose, prep method, or frequency (daily, weekly, etc.) tied to a specific amount of weight lost over a given time frame. “I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to try to incorporate them into your diet,” she says.
Adds New York City-based nutritionist Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN: “There are so many more enjoyable ways to get fiber in general—and resistant starch in particular. I would much rather recommend someone enjoy a bowl of oatmeal or snack on some hummus, or add oats or beans to delicious recipes.
If you do decide to give them a try, Sass encourages you to choose USDA certified organic, and wash them well to avoid pesticide residues. “You can also start with a small amount and incorporate into dishes with ingredients that help counter the flavor, like a smoothie with sweet fruit and a touch of ginger root or vanilla,” she suggests.
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