Oranges have long been heralded as one of the great symbols of health, due to their vitamin C content and rich, vibrant color. But after you peel your next orange, think twice before you throw away the skin — it turns out this is actually the healthiest part of the whole fruit!
Orange peels are absolutely overflowing with flavonoids, antioxidant compounds present only in certain foods which aid in the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. They’re also loaded with health-supporting nutrients, such as copper, calcium, folate, vitamin A and, of course, vitamin C! The peel has almost twice as much vitamin C than the flesh of the orange.
So really, there’s no excuse for you to not find a way to eat those orange peels, rather than throwing them away. Just make sure they’re organic orange peels; non-organic oranges are sprayed with pesticides and other toxic chemicals that remain on the skin even after washing, and can pass into your digestive systems when eaten.
Here’s a few more reasons why orange peels are kind of a big deal when it comes to your health.
- Orange peels alleviate allergies and respiratory problems
Orange peels contain special compounds that can help to reduce the production of histamines in the body, which in turn are associated with allergic reactions in the body, research suggests. This means that eating organic orange peel can greatly reduce the severity of seasonal or even food allergies.
But that’s not all. Certain compounds found in orange peels can assist your body in cleansing your lungs of phlegm and other substances, which can clog your respiratory system and make it hard to breathe. This makes orange peel a good choice for those suffering from congestion due to colds and flu, with the high concentrations of vitamin C also helping to bolster your immune system and fight off the bacteria and virus making you ill.
- Orange peels improve your digestive capacity
The skin of an orange is an excellent source of non-soluble polysaccharides, a family of dietary fibers that ward off constipation by increasing bulk and minimizing contact time of food in the digestive tract. Decreasing transit time helps encourage regular elimination and a healthy constitution, making things a whole lot easier when you go to sit on your porcelain throne.
Have trouble with gas, bloating, vomiting or heartburn after eating? Orange peel can help because it’s a source of high dietary fiber content.
- Orange peels fight the spread of cancer
You know those flavonoids we mentioned earlier? Well, it turns out they’re a sworn enemy of cancer and obesity. Research is beginning to suggest that these antioxidants have the potential to inhibit expression of RLIP76 protein, which in turn has been strongly associated with cancer and obesity. This means that consuming orange peel can enable the body to fight off diabetes, obesity and even cancer.
But the cancer-fighting power of orange peel flavonoids doesn’t stop there. These flavonoids possess certain characteristics which allows them to inhibit carcinogenesis by blocking the metastasis cascade, cancer cell mobility and antiangiogenesis. In other words, orange peel is bad news for cancer. Enough said.
- Orange peels promote cardiovascular goodness
Once again, flavonoids to the rescue! Orange peel contains the flavonoid hesperidin, a compound that lowers high blood pressure and regulates cholesterol. This glorious peel also contains high levels of nobiletin, a type of polymethoxylated flavone which promotes heart health by lowering inflammation and LDL cholesterol levels.
- Orange peels sharpen your vision
Beta-carotene — the same compound that gives carrots their characteristic color — is also responsible for the vibrant hue of the orange. When consuming orange peel, beta-carotene is broken down by your body into vitamin A, which supports not only your eye health but also your immune system. There no end to the benefits of the orange peel.
How to make the most of orange peel
So you’re convinced that orange peel is the real deal, but how do you actually eat it? Surely you don’t just shove it straight into your mouth and start chewing? Luckily, no you don’t.
First, give the orange peel a good rinse. Even though it’s organic, it’ll still have picked up dirt and various other substances and pathogens which you don’t want to be ingesting. Next, you can plonk the peel straight in a cup, pour in boiling water, allow to steep for 10 minutes, strain out the peel and drink. Add a dash of raw honey to sweeten things up if necessary, or half a teaspoon of organic cinnamon.
You can also grate the zest of organic orange peel onto salads, yogurt, ice cream or even use in baking to add a delicious tang to your dish. Finally, orange peel also does well blended into your favorite smoothie. There’s plenty of ways to use it, just get creative!
Call to action: Remember, the key to getting all the benefits of orange peel without any of the drawbacks is to only ever use organic peel. Buying organic ensures you get nutritionally superior produce while avoiding the toxic chemicals and pesticides which non-organic fruits and vegetables are doused in.