How to Eat Banana Peels

©. Africa Studio

Americans eat 12 billion bananas a year; here's how to make all those wasted peels edible and delicious.

The most widely consumed fruit in America is the beloved banana – it is also a fruit that comes with a rather significant peel. And just imagine, 12 billion of those banana peels end up in the trash ... when they could be eaten instead! While that may come as a surprise to those of us in The States, people in other parts of the world have been eating banana peels all along. Yes, they're fibrous and a bit bitter, but there are easy ways to get around that.

And aside from sidestepping some of that prodigious waste, banana peels also have nutritional appeal.

"[The skin] contains high amounts of vitamin B6 and B12, as well as magnesium and potassium. It also contains some fiber and protein," San Diego-based nutritionist Laura Flores tells LiveScience. "Banana peel is eaten in many parts of the world, though [it's] not very common in the west," she adds. An article in the journal of Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, also notes that banana peels have "various bioactive compounds like polyphenols, carotenoids and others."

Over at Inhabitat, Yuka Yoneda takes on the peel with three recipes shown in the video below – she makes an applie pie smoothie, peel pickles, and candied peels.

Before embarking on your banana peel culinary adventures, keep these things in mind:

• The riper the banana, the thinner and sweeter the peel will be.

• Wash the peel well before preparing.

• Eat peels from bananas with organic or Fair Trade certification since bananas are otherwise a pesticide-intensive crop.

Aside from Yuka's ideas, banana peels can also be added to stews, slow-simmered beans, soups, curries, chutneys, and jams ... just to name a few ways to eat them.

And if you can't eat all your peels, at least give them another job: From shoe shining to skin smoothing: 7 uses for overripe bananas and their peels.