When you peel an orange and sense the pleasant aroma of its sweet and tangy scent, the next thing that you will mostly want to do is savoring the mouth-watering yellowish juice of the fruit. The job of its peel—its outer skin excluding the pith—is done and there is nothing that prevents you from discarding it.
The pulpy and watery flesh of the orange is indeed delicious. It is healthy as well, especially due to its rich vitamin C content, which provides 64% of the recommended daily vitamin C consumption value; however, do you know that the peel of an orange also offers some great health benefits?
Orange peel can be used in its original form or in the form of essential oil extracted from it. Families, industries, cosmeticians, and medical professionals have been using both forms of orange peel for various purposes; however, what many people often overlook is the nutritional benefits of orange peel.
Orange peel indeed poses some risks when consumed, but there are actually many nutritional benefits that it promises. After you read this article about orange peels: health benefits, risks and research facts, you definitely want to prevent yourself from throwing out the peel of every single orange that you eat or make juice from.
What Is Orange Peel?
Orange peel may refer to the fresh zest of an orange or the dehydrated one. The fresh peel of an orange is taken during the peeling process. The outer layer of orange skin is taken and then cleaned from its pith, the white membrane that surrounds the fruit.
If the pith is included, the combination of the peel and the pith is called orange rind. It is also possible to use the peel directly without peeling the fruit. If you want to make an orange juice with its peel included, you only need to make thin slices of the fruit without removing the skin. This way, you actually use the rind instead of the peel. You can then extract the juice by putting the orange slices with its peel in a juicer.
Orange peel can be dehydrated for easier storing and serving. Although the dehydrated peel of an orange has similar nutritional value to that of the fresh one, dehydrated peel is considered three times as strong as fresh peel. When reading a recipe that includes orange peel, you should confirm whether the recipe requires you to use fresh peel or dried one. If the recipe requires you to use 1 tablespoon of fresh peel, you can use 1 teaspoon of dried peel.
What Is Orange Peel Extract?
Orange peel is also available in the form of essential oil that is extracted from it. There are various extraction methods that can be used to extract the oil from the peel, including distillation, cold press, absorption, maceration, and expression. It is also possible for you to extract the oil at home. You will read about it in the recipes section of this article.
There are obvious advantages of using orange peel extract instead of the tough peel. If you use orange peel extract, you are using oil that is guaranteed to be free from contaminants and to be least likely to cause digestion problem. Orange peel extract is now available in many shops as over-the-counter product.
Various Uses of Orange Peel
Orange peel is edible; however, its primary uses are not in the nutritional realm. According to the environment they are used, the functions of orange peel can be classified as follows.
- The uses of orange peel in and around your house
In and around your house, orange peel actually has many functions. As soon as it comes off from the fruit, orange peel can immediately be used for various purposes. Gardeners may throw the peels around their garden to protect it from slugs.
Some people may use orange peel to kindle a fireplace and throw dried peels into fireplace to make the fire smell good. Orange peel can also be used as a room deodorant that keeps foul smell at bay. Orange peel can also be used as insect repellent. Mosquitoes, ants, cockroaches, flies, and many other insects don’t like orange peel’s limonene. By placing grated orange peels at places frequently visited by mosquitoes and flies, you can keep those disturbing insects at bay.
Besides repelling insects, orange peel can also repel dogs and cats. If you don’t want your neighbor’s cat or dog to use your lawn as littering box, mix orange peel with coffee grounds and spread the mixture around your lawn. The strong scent of the mixture will discourage stray cats and dogs from entering your lawn.
Orange peel is also widely used as cleanser. Its oil is considered an effective environmentally friendly cleansing agent that can be used to clean kitchen counter top from stubborn grimes. A mixture of grated orange peel and salt can be used as preservative.
- The uses of orange peel for cosmetic purposes
Orange peel is also used for cosmetic purpose. When used to scrub the face, it will help clean the skin from dead skin cells that accelerate aging process and make the skin lose its shine. Orange peel also contains acids that can rejuvenate the skin and make it look fresh and young. Orange peel can also be used to temporarily protect the skin from sun damage.
- The uses of orange peel in industries
In the industrial sphere, the peel is primarily exploited for its oil. The sweet orange oil that is extracted from orange peel is usually used as fragrance for aromatherapy products and perfumes. The peel of bergamot orange is used particularly for this purpose.
Being rich in D-limonene, orange oil is also used as a solvent for detergents, wood conditioners, and other household chemicals. D-limonene is also considered a preferred cleaning agent due to its pleasant aroma and environmentally friendly characteristic.
- The uses of orange peel as edibles
Besides offering the aforementioned industrial uses, orange peel actually also has nutritional uses. Bergamot orange, for instance, is used not only as fragrance for perfumes, but also as a flavoring agent for Earl Grey tea. Adding orange peel to braising liquid when cooking meat and inserting the peel in the cavity of a turkey or chicken before roasting it is also known to improve its taste and aroma.
Of all nutritional uses of orange peel, the most widely known is its use as candies. Orange peels can be made candies to munch on their own or to be used as garnishes for cakes. There are actually many nutritional benefits that orange peels offer. Before elaborating them, it is important for us to understand first the nutritional values of orange peels.
Orange Peel Nutritional Facts
According to a research conducted by Barros et al. and published on Elsevier health journal volume 134, issue 4, the peel of citrus fruits contains a number of chemicals that are considered beneficial for human’s health. The journal mentions the following chemicals that your body will absorb when you consume orange peels.
- Vitamin C
Just like orange flesh and juice, orange peel is also rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is especially important to prevent scurvy, a disease characterized by progressive physical fatigue and weakness, inflamed gums, diseased and loose teeth, diseased joints, and broken blood vessels (ecchymosis).
Vitamin C is also known to improve the immune system as well as body’s resistance to infection and diseases. As an antioxidant, vitamin C is also effective in cleaning the body from free radicals, which are acidic substances that may cause tissue damage as well as other health problems. In 1 tablespoon of orange peel, there is about 8.2 mg of vitamin C, which provides 14% of the Daily Value.
- Dietary fiber
1 tablespoon of orange peel contains 0.6 g of dietary fiber. Your body needs constant intake of dietary fiber because it helps digestion. Fiber eases food movement in the digestive tract and makes sure that the body only absorbs healthy nutrients and not the harmful chemicals of food. Diet performers consider fiber essential for their diet program as it helps them lose their fat and gain slimmer and healthier body.
- Dietary minerals
Orange peel also contains a significant amount of dietary minerals that are considered beneficial for human’s health. In 1 tablespoon of orange peel, there are about 12.7 mg of potassium, 9.7 mg of calcium, 1.3 mg of magnesium, and 1.3 mg of phosphorus. All of those minerals are important for your body.
Potassium is an important dietary element that helps prevent hypertension and stroke. Calcium is important in the formation of teeth and bones and maintaining the perfection of their structure as well as for assisting in never impulses transmission, muscle contraction, and blood clotting.
Magnesium is one of the most essential minerals for all known living organism due to its catalytic action in the nucleic acid chemistry. Phosphorus is also important because it is an important component of bones and cells and because it assists in energy processing. With such rich dietary mineral content, orange peel is definitely not a junk as you may have thought about it so far.
Carotenoid is the orange pigment that is also found in orange peel. Several studies have confirmed carotenoid’s efficacy in protecting against several dangerous diseases. A study carried out by Leoncini E et al. on the correlation between carotenoids and head and neck cancer shows that carotenoids are proven to be effective in preventing the cancer. Vieira AR et al. also confirms carotenoid’s ability to provide protection against lung cancer.
In addition to containing the foregoing nutrients, orange peel also contains two chemicals whose efficacy in improving your health is yet to be scientifically proven, namely polyphenols and limonene. Many health supplements, traditional medicines and cosmetics mention polyphenols among their ingredients; however, the health benefits of this substance are not yet proven scientifically and further studies are necessary to discover them.
Limonene is known to be an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It also assists in digestion and detoxification. It is even believed to have anti-cancer properties; however, it is important to mention that limonene may irritate respiratory system and skin. Consuming any foods that contain limonene should thus be done with caution.
Orange Peels Health Benefits
Based on orange peel’s nutritional facts, we can make a conclusion on the health benefits that you can reap if you consume orange peel or its extract. In general, orange peel assists in digestion process and helps food pass through the alimentary canal more quickly. It also helps cure insomnia, obesity, depression, gastrointestinal problems, heartburn, hypertension, and stroke. In a nutshell, there are many health benefits of consuming orange peel.
Risks of Consuming Orange Peel
Orange peel is indeed rich in healthy nutrients; however, consuming it without caution may also pose some risks. We have mentioned how the limonene content of orange peel may cause irritation. Besides this, the following are other risks that you need to be concerned with when you try to consume orange peel.
- Digestion risk
There is a plausible reason why people throw away orange peel when they eat the fruit: the peel is simply too tough and too difficult to digest. Even if you grate the peels, they may not pass your alimentary canal easily. If you experience digestion problem after consuming the peel, you may need to consult your doctor to find out whether it is okay for you to continue your consumption.
Although the peel can be problematic to the digestive system, the essential oil extracted from it can actually help cure various digestive problems, especially constipation. Therefore, if you plan to use the peel to treat your digestive problem, consider consuming the less risky oil instead of the tougher peel.
- Contamination risk
Being the outermost layer of an orange, orange peel is always at risk of being contaminated by dangerous chemicals. Unless you can guarantee that the orange that you eat is an organic fruit that is cultivated in a certified organic farm, you are always at risk of consuming dangerous pesticides and herbicides that may contaminate the peel. If you want to eat orange peel, especially in its hard form, you have to make sure that the peel comes from a reputable source.
- Stimulant risk
Orange peel contains ephedra-like stimulant that is called synephrine. If you consume orange peel or its oil extract too much, you might be at risk of experiencing the adverse effects triggered by this stimulant, including restlessness, insomnia, vision problem, weakness, and nervousness. Synephrine is also known to cause headache and to exacerbate hyperthyroidism and hypertension. A sufficient amount of orange peel extract that you consume may help you overcome various problems, including insomnia, but if you consume it too much, your consumption may backfire and do more harm than good.
- Ischemic colitis
Ischemic colitis or colon inflammation triggered by artery blockage is a gastrointestinal condition characterized by severe diarrhea, abdominal cramp, fever, and vomiting. It is known to be one of side effects of consuming orange peel. You should consult your doctor if you experience any of those symptoms after consuming the peel.
Your awareness of orange peel consumption risks is important if you want to get used to consuming the peel. You want to make sure that it gives you only benefits without causing harms. If you experience any problems with your body after you consume orange peel, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor because without proper treatment, the risks may cause serious health problems.
Orange Peel Recipes
Although orange peel doesn’t taste as delicious as orange flesh, you can actually make delicious edibles from it. Below are some recipes that you can use to make delicious edibles from orange peel.
- Orange Peel Juice
When making a juice from orange, you can either discard the peel or include it in the juice. If you prefer the latter, here is the recipe that you can use.
- Organic orange with smooth and firm peels that don’t show any sign of damage
- Other fruits, such as grape, strawberries and pineapple, to improve the flavor (optional)
- Clean the orange using clean, cold and flowing water while brushing it gently using clean toothbrush to remove dirt and debris.
- Cut the orange without removing the peel. Remove all seeds that you find when cutting the fruit.
- Put the orange slices in your juicer and use the juicer according to the manual.
- Pour the juice into a glass for serving.
- Candied Orange Peel
You can make sweet and delicious candies from orange peels. Orange peel candies can be consumed on their own just like other confections or used as garnish for parfaits and cakes. Here is the recipe that you can use to make candied orange peel.
- Organic orange
- White sugar
- Fresh water
- Peel off the orange and clean the peels from pith.
- Slice the peels into thin strips using a sharp knife.
- Mix white sugar and fresh water with 1:1 ratio. Boil the mixture on a medium-heated saucepan until both ingredients completely mix.
- Put the peel strips into the saucepan and continue cooking until the peels become tender and the syrup thickens.
- Let the syrup cool or put it in refrigerator.
- Take the peels and roll them on white sugar until they are completely covered with sugar crystals. Remove excess sugar crystals from the peels if necessary.
- Orange Peel Oil
You can indeed buy essential oil extracted from orange peel from groceries or drugstores, but do you know that you can actually extract the oil at home? Use the following recipe to get the oil extract.
- Organic orange
- Grain alcohol, preferably the warmed one
- Peel off the orange, take the peels and remove the pith.
- Slice the peels and dry them.
- Grind the peels.
- Put the orange peel grounds in a mason jar or any other types of wide-mouthed jar.
- Pour grain alcohol on the peel grounds. Warmed alcohol is better because it is proven to yield more oil.
- Shake the mixture as vigorously as possible for a couple of minutes. Repeat this process for a couple of days.
- Use a strainer or coffee filter to remove solids or large particles from the mixture. Put the strained mixture in a shallow dish.
- Allow the alcohol to evaporate and what is left on the dish is the extracted oil.
The three foregoing recipes are easy to make and their ingredients are easy to find. Candied oil and orange peel juice are especially delicious to enjoy. Orange oil that you extract at home can have various benefits that are already mentioned above. If you want to include orange peel in your diet, use the recipes above and enjoy your homemade orange peel edibles.
Orange peel use and consumption can be both advantageous and disadvantageous; however, it is important to realize that almost all ingredients, especially the ones that are used as home remedies, have their own strength and weakness.
The key of proper use and consumption of the peel is being aware of its advantages and disadvantages and knowing how to reap its advantages and to avoid its disadvantages. By reading this article about orange peels: health benefits, risks and research facts, you should be able to get some clues about the risks and benefits of orange peel use and how to deal with them.
However, it is important to realize that researches on orange peel and how it affects human’s health are still ongoing. A large portion of information about orange peel is still hidden and there are still many aspects of orange peel that this article has yet to cover.
For this reason, it is important that you continue updating your knowledge and awareness concerning this ingredient, especially if you plan to include it in your diet. Some of its effects, especially the adverse ones, are still not fully known.
Therefore, if you ever experience something wrong with your body after you consume orange peel, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor. Such experience can be useful for you because it will make you aware of the effects that orange peel can cause to your body.