Is It Healthy to Eat Orange Peels?

Eating orange peel is perfectly healthy and safe. However, the peel is fairly bitter, which means it's not the sort of food you'd want to eat in large amounts. Many recipes call for grating orange peel to make orange zest, which can be used to flavor desserts, smoothies and more.

It's safe to eat orange peels, but you may find it difficult to get past the bitter flavor.
Credit: Igor Golovniov / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages

Tips

It's safe to eat orange peels, but you may find it difficult to get past the bitter flavor. The peel works best when added to other foods to enhance flavor.

Read more: 9 Myths About Food You Probably Think Are True

Orange Peel Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA, a tablespoon (6 grams) of raw orange peel has 6 calories. Orange peels contain mainly carbohydrates: Each tablespoon has 1.5 carbohydrates, 0.6 grams which come from dietary fiber.

Orange peel's main nutrient is vitamin C. A single tablespoon of vitamin C equals 9 percent of the daily value (DV).

Orange peel's nutrition isn't particularly impressive compared to that of whole oranges. It only has trace amounts (around 1 percent) of most other nutrients, including copper and vitamins B1, B5 and B6.

However, according to a January 2013 study in the Asian Journal of Scientific Research, orange peel contains substantial amounts of potassium and calcium, as well as small amounts of magnesium and phosphorus. All of these are essential minerals that the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recommends consuming on a daily basis.

You're unlikely to get substantial amounts of magnesium or phosphorus from eating orange peels. However, you can obtain a fair amount of potassium and calcium.

Potassium is important for cardiovascular health, and both calcium and potassium are also needed for bone health. Calcium also supports the function of your nervous system cells.

According to the study from the Asian Journal of Scientific Research and a January 2017 study in the International Journal of Theoretical and Applied Sciences, orange peel's nutrition also provides you with a variety of beneficial bioactive compounds. These include antioxidants like polyphenols, flavonoids and phenolic acids.

Read more: 19 High-Fiber Foods — Some May Surprise You!

Drinking and Eating Orange Peel

It might seem a bit strange to think of eating orange peel, given how bitter and tough this part of the orange is — despite the fact that orange peels make up the majority of an orange's weight, most people consider orange peel to just be inedible waste.

Yet, chances are that you've eaten at least part of an orange peel before. The white bits on the outside of a freshly peeled orange are known as orange pith, the interior of the orange peel. However, orange pith isn't a particularly interesting component of orange peel. If you're truly interested in eating orange peel, you'll likely want to zest it.

Zested orange peel can be incorporated into salads and used as a topping for many other dishes too. For the best flavor, you should use your zested orange peel raw, though.

You may want to consider drinking rather than eating orange peel. Orange zest can easily be added to make orange peel smoothies, fresh juices and many cocktails, including Long Island iced teas and martinis. If you'd rather not zest your orange peels, you can also chop them up and use them to flavor teas, water and other beverages.

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