Can You Eat Orange Peels? Should You?
It’s the inside of the orange–that juicy, tangy, vitamin C-filled sweet center–that most of us know and love. But what about the orange peel?
If you’re like most people, your orange-eating routine involves peeling off the skin and throwing it away. However, some argue that this process is a waste of valuable nutrients found right there in the orange peel.
So, what’s the deal with the orange peel? Can you really eat it? And more importantly: should you? Read on to get the lowdown on this often-ignored part of the orange fruit with Peels!
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Orange Peels?
Believe it or not, the orange’s tough outer layer actually does contain a wealth of nutrients that can support our wellbeing.
Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
It’s somewhat of a well-kept secret that the peel of the orange is filled with nutrients, just like the inside.
Within the rough and bright peel you’ll find fiber, wellness-boosting plant compounds such as hesperidin and polymethoxyflavones (PMFs), and an even more concentrated amount of vitamin C than on the inside. A single tablespoon of orange peel contains three times more vitamin C than the juicy inner parts.
The peel is also home to other essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, folate, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin B6, potassium, and calcium.
We all know that it’s what is on the inside that counts, but it turns out that when it comes to oranges, a whole lot on the outside counts as well!
The polyphenols, flavonoids, aromatic terpenes, and added vitamin C content in the orange peel all have antioxidant properties that can support the body in several ways.
Antioxidants are molecules that can help counteract and prevent damage caused by unstable molecules within the body called free radicals.
Free radicals can become more abundant in the body through exposure to potential toxins such as car exhaust, smoke, or overexposure to direct sunlight. These unstable molecules can then attack healthy cells within the body, including skin cells and cells within the digestive tract.
Antioxidants like those found in orange peels, however, can prevent cell damage by stabilizing free radicals without becoming unstable themselves.
Vitamin C is vital for immune function, as it can help create the white blood cells that fight infection within the body. Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties can also support our immune systems by helping lower swelling throughout the body as needed.
So, while eating the inside of oranges already packs quite the punch, adding the vitamin C-rich peel can further benefit your immune system.
Free radicals within the body are known to oxidize the cells they damage, which can cause oxidative stress. Over time, oxidative stress can harm the heart, but orange peels can help prevent this harm by reducing oxidative stress as they disarm free radicals.
The potassium in orange peels can also support heart health, as potassium can help regulate blood pressure and assist the heart in pumping blood.
Studies suggest that there are more polyphenols, or bioactive plant compounds, within the orange peel than on the inside of the orange. These polyphenols can help regulate cholesterol and lower levels of LDL cholesterol, which can form potentially harmful buildup within the arteries over time.
The essential oils found within the orange peel are also a good source of limonene, a chemical compound that is naturally soothing. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, limonene may help ease discomfort by reducing swelling throughout the body.
Are There Any Risks To Eating Orange Peels?
The nutrients hidden inside the orange peel can certainly boost our wellness, but there are a few potential drawbacks to eating the orange peel that are worth considering.
Pesticides and Chemicals
Most fruits and vegetables are exposed to pesticides while growing. While it is rare for detectable or harmful amounts of pesticides to make it to the inside of the orange, the peel itself may contain larger amounts of pesticide residue, even after making the journey to your home.
If ingested on an ongoing basis, the chemicals used in pesticides are associated with hormone imbalances and other health risks if ingested.
Some oranges are also sprayed with a small, FDA-approved amount of citrus red 2 food dye to improve color. While it is unlikely that enough dye could be consumed to cause serious adverse health effects, there is not currently enough research to fully understand the health effects of consuming the trace amounts of this dye used on oranges regularly.
While the occasional consumption of orange peels is unlikely to introduce enough pesticides into your system to be truly dangerous, it is best to err on the side of caution and take steps to reduce pesticide residue that may be on the peels before eating. The best way to do this is to wash the orange with hot water to help wash away any potential residue before eating.
The orange peel is naturally bitter, with a tough texture that can be hard to chew. For some, this is enough to offset the nutritional benefits of the peel, as trying to consume it on it’s own can be downright unpleasant.
Difficult to Digest
If you’ve ever peeled an orange, you are likely familiar with how thick and stiff the skin can be. This, along with its high fiber content, can make orange peels challenging to digest, especially when consuming large amounts at once.
To avoid stomach discomfort or bloating, it’s best to cut the orange peel into smaller pieces to enjoy in smaller increments, rather than trying to eat the entire peel in one go.
How Much Orange Peel Should I Eat?
You’ll benefit from the nutrient profile with just 1 tbsp (about six grams).
Ways To Enjoy The Orange Peel
Eating the orange peel can help limit waste and introduce important nutrients and antioxidants into the body. By always washing the orange peel before eating and consuming in smaller pieces, you can limit the potential risks associated with eating the peel.
Below are some of our favorite ways here at Peels to enjoy the orange peel in fun and easily digestible ways!
After peeling the orange, cut the peel into small strips and use it to top salads, grain bowls, and more!
Spruce up your drink by adding a slice of orange peel to your water, tea, or even the adult beverage of choice. Orange peels can also easily be blended into an orange smoothie for added nutrients.
Candied orange peels are a family-fun way to give orange peels a second life and add valuable nutrients to dessert time. You can dip candied oranges in dark chocolate, add to ice cream, or enjoy on their own!
How We Use Leftover Orange Peels At Peels
Alright, you may not be able to transform orange peels into nourishing CBD in your own kitchen, but we can do it here and send it your way!
Peels utilizes the beneficial and aromatic terpenes natural to orange peels and a cyclic terpene assembly process to turn those terpenes into 100% organic CBD.
CBD works naturally with the body’s endocannabinoid system to help promote full-body relaxation, calm the mind, and ease physical discomfort. And because there is no THC in orange peels, there is no risk of THC ending up in your Peels CBD.
If you’re ready to enjoy the full range of wellness benefits found in the orange peels, Peels is here to support you in your wellness ritual.