While oranges are widely consumed worldwide and are definitely one of the most popular fruits, few consume the peel. It`s a shame though, given that the peel is actually the healthier part of the fruit. Orange peels are packed with hesperidin and polymethoxyflavones and other phytochemicals which account for their wide plethora of health benefits.
Flavonoids like with hesperidin and polymethoxyflavones are antioxidant compounds found in fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices. They are known for their ability to prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Additionally, orange peels are an excellent source of nutrients, containing even higher quantities than the flesh. For example, a 3.5 oz-serving of orange peels yields 136 mg of vitamin C, compared to the flesh with contains about 71mg. They also contain solid amounts of vitamin C, B vitamins, dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, folate, and copper.
Orange Peels for Heart Health
Orange peels are packed with hesperidin, an antioxidant which has been found to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels in animal studies. It also acts as anti-inflammatory agent.
In overweight men, consuming hesperidin in oranges was shown to lower diastolic blood pressure within a month.
The polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs) in the peels have been also found to lower cholesterol far superior to prescription drugs, without the adverse side effects.
According to Elzbieta Kurowska, Ph.D., vice president of research at KGK Synergize in Ontario, Canada, told EurekAlert,
“Our study has shown that PMFs have the most potent cholesterol-lowering effect of any other citrus flavonoid … We believe that PMFs have the potential to rival and even beat the cholesterol-lowering effect of some prescription drugs, without the risk of side effects.”
Orange Peels May Have Anti-Cancer Activity
The flavonoids in orange peel are capable of inhibiting the RLIP76 protein, which is associated with obesity and cancer. While research is still in its early stages, if an orange peel could reduce or block the expression of this protein, it would have a notable effect on chronic disease.
“When you get rid of this [RLIP76] gene in a mouse, it would appear that the mouse can’t get obese, it can’t get diabetes, it can’t get high cholesterol and it can’t get cancer,” explained Sanjay Awasthi, M.D., professor in the Division of Molecular Diabetes Research at City of Hope hospital.
The flavonoids in citrus peels also exhibit a wide variety of anti-cancer effects. As reported in a research published in the journal BioMed Research International:
“Due to their broad range of pharmacological properties, citrus flavonoids have gained increased attention. Accumulative in vitro and in vivo studies indicate protective effects of polymethoxyflavones (PMFs) against the occurrence of cancer.
PMFs inhibit carcinogenesis by mechanisms like blocking the metastasis cascade, inhibition of cancer cell mobility in circulatory systems, proapoptosis, and antiangiogenesis.
… Taken all together, a considerable number of well-established lines of evidence have confirmed that flavonoids in citrus peel exhibit a remarkable spectrum of efficacious biological activities, particularly in antitumorigenesis.
Excellent permeability through membrane allows citrus flavonoids to possess great bioavailability, which consequently attracts researchers to perform scientific studies for effective disease prevention and treatment.”
Orange Peels Offer Anti-Allergic and Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Constituents in orange peels and citrus peels in general may protect against histamine release, which makes them a potent anti-allergic food.
They may also help expel phlegm, cleanse the lungs, and boost immunity, which in turn fights off respiratory conditions like flu and colds.
Additionally, citrus peel extracts reduce inflammation by working similarly to anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin. The peel may provide a wide plethora of additional health benefits, such as:
- Improve digestion and speed metabolism, according to Ayrveda principles
- Improve oral health: Rub the inside on the teeth to whiten them or chew the peels as natural breath freshener
- Improve skin appearance: Mix orange peel extract with milk and use to lighten dark spots on the skin
- Support healthy weight loss: Being packed with fiber but low in calories, orange peels are beneficial for weight loss
Delicious Ways to Incorporate Citrus Peels into Your Diet
Orange, lemons, and limes are first on the list of foods containing pesticide residue, so make sure you use organic fruits only!
Wash the fruit before grating the zest and adding it to tea, fish, veggies, salads, and dressings. You can blend the peel and add it into smoothies as well!