One of the things I love about being a journalist is that sometimes my research spins me into contact with quirky factoids (example: Antarctica was once home to giant 6’7’’ penguins. That’s the same height as footballer Peter Crouch. I mean – wow.)
My latest discovery is about the myriad uses for the peel of a banana.
Did you know that you have free teeth whitener, silver polish and skin disinfectant sitting in your fridge, looking just like, well, a banana?
We all know how good bananas are for us, but just to recap: one medium banana has 2% of the RDI of 5 of the 11 nutrients that we need to keep our immune systems healthy. Those are iron, zinc, vitamin A, selenium and protein. It also has larger amounts of 4 other immune-supporting heavyweights: vitamin B-6, copper, vitamin C and folate.
But the peel is packed with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins too, and – as you’ll see from this list – it offers a kaleidoscope of benefits.
Choose fresh peels where appropriate – i.e for skin solutions or if you’re eating them – and organic if possible.
- Eat the peel
They’ve got magnesium, vitamins B6 and B12, potassium, tryptophan (an essential amino acid) and fibre. So, try this recipe: cut a banana in half, sprinkle with grated dark chocolate and cinnamon and grill for a few minutes. Eat the whole thing.
- Drink the peel
Blend the whole washed banana in your morning smoothie (really!). Or, if that’s too weird for you, juice them by boiling washed peels in water for 10 minutes, letting them cool and then straining the liquid. You can use that banana peel juice in smoothies for their extra vitamins and minerals.
- Keep meat moist
Lay a ripe banana peel in the bottom of your roasting pan before cooking and it will keep the meat moist.
- Use as a face mask
Rub the inside of a banana peel on your skin (note: it will be brown and slimy). Allow it to work for 30 minutes and then rinse with warm water. The antioxidants, minerals and vitamins encourage cell regeneration and have an anti-ageing effect. Gives new meaning to the idea of a facial peel.
- Treat acne
Banana peels contain vitamins C and E, as well as potassium, zinc, iron and manganese, which can calm inflamed skin and reduce acne outbreaks. Gently rub the peel onto the affected area and leave for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. It may sting a bit, but use this method a few times daily and you should see results within a week.
- Reduce puffy eyes
Move over cucumber – a banana peel is equally effective for reducing puffiness. Freeze the banana peel for 15 minutes and then balance it for a few minutes under the eyes. The potassium in bananas themselves can help counter the salt intake that can result in fluid retention, so get eating those too.
- Whiten your teeth
Rub teeth for 2 minutes with the inside of the peel and then brush as normal. The potassium, manganese and magnesium in ripe banana peels should help reduce yellow stains.
- Soothe insect bites
If you’re itching from a mosquito or ant bite, then rub the affected area with a banana peel.
- Polish silver
The potassium in the banana peel can help clean metal objects. Blend the banana skin into a paste with a little water. Gently rub onto the silver with a soft brush, before rinsing and patting dry.
- Fade scars
The esterified fatty acids in the banana peel can help to diminish the visibility of scars. Rub the peel on the scar and let it dry, removing residue with a cloth. Apply daily.
- Shine houseplants
Rub the leaves of your houseplants with the peel to buff them up to a shine.
- Remove a splinter
Tape a piece of banana peel over the splinter and leave it to work its magic for 30 minutes. It’s all down to the enzymes in the peel that draw the splinter to the surface.
- Polish leather
Rub your shoes with the inside of the peel, and then buff to a shine. Natural shoe polish in your fridge – who knew?
- Help bruises
Rubbed over a bruise, a banana peel can help. Or, try taping it over the bruise for a prolonged period of time. Best done overnight (unless you want to be asked alot of questions).
- Remove warts
Rub the peel on a wart to help eradicate it.
- Improve your compost
Banana peels will help introduce more calcium, sulphur, potassium, magnesium, phosphates and sodium into your compost which contribute to the healthy growth of plants. Bury pieces of banana skin under the plant you want to fertilise (as close to the roots as possible) and water the plant.
- Soothe a headache
The potassium in the peel can help with headaches too. Put the peel in the freezer for an hour and apply one line to your forehead and one to the back of your neck. Leave it on until they become warm.
I think you’ll agree: There are superfoods, and then there are bananas.