The next time you shop for tangerines, it may be a good idea to pay more attention to the peel than the juice. A joint study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a Canadian research firm, published in the April 2004 issue of the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry," cited the cholesterol-lowering properties of tangerine peel. Other voices recommend tea made from dried tangerine peels as beneficial to people who are seeking relief from physical conditions ranging from indigestion to cancer. Though there are no specific studies on tangerine peel tea, there are studies that document the effects of tangerine peel and tea to your health.
Preparing the Tea
Remove the peel, taking care to retain the white pith. Let the peel dry naturally. The peel will remain good and usable for several months if kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. To make tea, tear off a few small pieces and add to a glass or mug of hot water and let steep for a few minutes. If you prefer not to prepare your own peel, many traditional Asian food stores carry dried tangerine peel. You could also put your dried tangerine peel in hot black tea. A study in the 2001 issue of "BioMed Central Dermatology" reports that a combination of hot black tea and citrus peel can reduce your risk of squamous cell skin cancer by 70 percent, while hot tea alone reduces your risk by only 40 percent.
The major scientific study published in the 2004 issue of "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" shows that tangerine peels have more powerful health benefits than the juice and could have significant potential for lowering cholesterol in people. Reporting on the study, Science Daily explains that the peels were found to contain 20 times the antioxidants in juice. Antioxidants are chemical substances that neutralize the oxygen damage that can occur in human tissue
The high concentration of antioxidants in tangerine peel leads many natural health proponents and others to view the peel as a weapon in the fight against cancer. Current thinking among scientific researchers is that antioxidants may protect human cells from damage caused by molecules called free radicals. That damage may lead to cancer. Thus, antioxidants may stop cancer from developing.
Mao Shing Ni, a doctor of Chinese medicine, of Ask Dr. Mao, recommends the use of tangerine peel in tea and cooking. The list of health benefits includes aiding digestion, easing morning sickness in pregnant women and curing motion sickness. Other benefits include balancing blood sugar, activating liver detoxification, treating colds and flu and relieving stress.