Orange peels can be healthy as far as their nutrients go, but you might not want to make them part of your daily diet. Adding orange zest to recipes such as cookies and breads can offer a good way to add flavor and increase the calorie count only slightly. When eating plain peels, the tough orange peel will not be as juicy or sweet as the orange’s inner pulp and it can also come with a few health concerns.
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A major concern with eating an orange peel is its origin. If you eat a non-organic orange peel, you could be eating a peel steeped in chemicals. Unless the orange came from a certified organic farm or orchard and displays a white and green USDA Certified Organic sticker, there is no way to know what types of chemical pesticides or herbicides invaded the peel. Certified organic farmers only use natural weed and pest control methods.
If you were to eat an entire peel, or about 100 g of the orange’s outer coating, you’d consume 97 calories, 1.5 g of protein, 25 g of carbohydrates and 10.6 g of fiber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since eating an entire peel may not sound all that appetizing, you can instead eat 1 tbsp. of the peel, or about 6 g, and get about 6 calories, 0.09 g of protein, 1.5 g of carbohydrates and 0.6 g of fiber. Orange peels contain very little fat, no sodium and no cholesterol.
Vitamins and Minerals
Orange peels pack in the vitamin C, with 8.2 mg in a single tablespoon of peel. Other vitamins include riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, folate, vitamin A, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-5. The peel’s mineral content includes 10 mg of calcium along with small amounts of iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and selenium.
The peel’s digestibility is another health concern noted by the USDA. Large chunks of the peel might not sit well – or might sit too well sans digestion -- in your stomach. If the tough, outer orange peel seems too much of a risk for you, you can still get nutrients from the inner part of the peel. The white inner coating of the peel, called the albedo, contains vitamin C, fiber, limonene, pectin and glucarate.