Musa sapientum (banana) peels have been used in conjunction with other substances to remedy the achy and painful symptoms of arthritis. They are composed of nutritive chemicals, minerals, and nonnutritive chemicals. Banana peels have both highly beneficial and highly dangerous constituents and can be manipulated to serve both as a remedy and a poison.
Minerals and Nutrients
Mineral content in a banana peel is primarily consistent of potassium (78.10mg/g) and manganese (76.20mg/g). Other minerals present are sodium, calcium and iron at 24.30, 19.20 and 0.61 mg/g respectively. The peel’s high potassium content, if taken orally, aids in maintaining normal blood pressure.
About 91.50 percent of a banana peel is organic nutrient matter consisting of lipids, proteins, crude fiber and carbohydrates. About 31.70 percent of total mass is fiber with carbohydrates accounting for 59 percent and protein and lipids accounting for 0.9 and 1.7 percents respectively. The high fiber content is useful as a natural laxative.
Phytate (myo-inositol hexaphosphate) content of a banana peel is 0.28mg/g, lower than in most whole grains. The only risk associated with phytate and dietary consumption comes from a lack of it. Low phytate consumption increases risk for osteoporosis and adding it to the diet increases bone density.
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Saponins are known for their foaming property and are another potentially dangerous constituent of a banana peel. The levels are high in banana at 24 percent, greatly exceeding the 3.00 percent level marked safe for consumption by animals. Saponins consumption at high levels can paralyze the sensory system and are known to increase cholesterol production in the body.
Oxalates are organic acids associated with kidney disease and are known to decrease the absorption of minerals, such as calcium, in the body by binding with them decreasing their availability. Eighty percent of all kidney stones occurring in adults in the United States are calcium oxalate stones. The oxalate level in a banana peel is 0.51mg/g, which is low and relatively non-threatening.
Of the anti-nutritive constituents the most poisonous is hydrogen cyanide. It is present in the peel at 1.33mg/g. The chemical can cause immediate death if taken in high dosages and in small dosages may cause stiffening of the throat and chest, heart palpitations and weak muscles. Amounts in a peel fall into the 0.5 to 3.5mg/g safe range.
- Cornell University: Plants Poisonous to Livestock
- The World's Healthiest Foods: Can you Tell M...
- Journal of Medicinal Food; Phytate (Myo-Inositol Hexaphosphate) and Risk Factors for Osteoporosis; López-González AA, et al.; 2008
- Electronic Journal of Environmental, Agri. and Food Chem; Chemical Composition of Musa Sapientum Peels; Anhwange, B.A., et al; 2009
Heather Martens writes for business and individuals. She is passionate about human health and has accumulated more than seven years of experience in the health field working with children and adults. Martens is pursuing a Bachelor of Science as a pre-med major with a minor in chemistry.