Are Orange Peels Safe To Eat?

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you skipped the messy peeling process and bit right into an orange — peel and all?

Turns out, orange peels are actually edible — and although you may be taken aback by the bitter taste and difficult texture, orange peels make up for their bitterness in the amount of nutrients they provide. In fact, you can get 14 percent of your daily vitamin C from just one tablespoon of the peel, as well as four times more fiber than what you would get from the orange itself (via Healthline). The peel also contains fair amounts of potassium and calcium, along with small amounts of magnesium and phosphorus (via Livestrong).

Orange peels contain plant compounds called polyphenols, which are known for the prevention and management of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer's, according to Healthline. The essential oils in the peel are made up of the natural chemical limonene, which is an anti-inflammatory compound and can offer skin cancer protection.

Negatives of eating orange peels

But there are some possible pitfalls to consuming orange peels (other than the bitter taste).

Higher levels of pesticides are found in the orange peels compared to the oranges themselves. Although you would only be exposed to a small amount of pesticides, it is still recommended to wash the oranges thoroughly with hot water to mitigate the risk.

The combination of the texture and fiber could also cause digestive discomfort. In this case, it's recommended to consume the peel in small doses to keep your digestive system happy.

Bottom line? Overall, orange peels are safe to eat and could provide some added health benefits. It's up to you whether you want to ditch the peel or add it in occasionally. Want to experiment? Try zesting the peel into small strips and add them to salads or drinks, or use them as entrée garnishes.