What are the benefits of eating orange peels?

Oranges are one of the most popular fruits around the world. Many people enjoy eating the juicy and sweet inner flesh of oranges, but few realize that the outer peel is also edible and nutritious. Orange peels are often discarded as waste, but they can provide many health benefits when consumed. Here’s an in-depth look at why you may want to eat orange peels and how to incorporate them into your diet.

Nutritional Profile

Orange peels contain a variety of nutrients and plant compounds that are good for your health. Here’s an overview of the main nutrients found in 100 grams of orange peel:

Nutrient Amount
Water 75 g
Calories 44
Protein 1.7 g
Fat 0.2 g
Carbs 13 g
Fiber 7.8 g
Vitamin C 35% DV
Thiamine 2% DV
Folate 2% DV
Potassium 5% DV

As you can see, orange peels are low in calories and fat, but contain a good amount of fiber, vitamin C, and other micronutrients. The fiber and vitamin C are particularly notable, providing over a third of the recommended daily intake in just 100 grams.

Rich in Fiber

One of the standout nutrients in orange peel is fiber. A 100 gram serving contains almost 8 grams of fiber, making it an excellent source.

Fiber provides many health benefits including:

  • Improved digestion and regularity.
  • Reduced cholesterol levels.
  • Better blood sugar control.
  • Increased feelings of fullness and reduced appetite.

The fiber content is higher in the white pith of the peel compared to the orange outer layer. The pith is the soft white material just below the outer peel.

Excellent Source of Vitamin C

Orange peels provide an impressive amount of vitamin C, with over a third of the recommended daily intake in 100 grams. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps boost immune function and prevent cell damage.

Getting enough vitamin C is important for growth and development, skin health, wound healing, and fighting infections.

Contains Unique Plant Compounds

Orange peels contain various plant compounds that are responsible for many of their health benefits:

  • Flavonoids: Antioxidants that help prevent cell damage from free radicals.
  • Hesperidin: A flavonoid linked to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs): Anticancer agents that may also lower cholesterol.
  • Limonoids: Bitter compounds that help fight cancers and cholesterol.
  • Coumarins: Mild blood thinners that support vascular health.

These plant compounds give orange peels many of their medicinal properties. They act as antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, anticancer agents, and more.

May Lower Cholesterol

Some studies have found that eating orange peels may help lower cholesterol levels. The fiber and specific plant compounds in the peel, including hesperidin and polymethoxylated flavones, are thought to be responsible for these cholesterol-lowering effects.

In one study, people who ate orange peel powder daily for 4 weeks saw an 11–14% reduction in LDL “bad” cholesterol. Plus, their total cholesterol dropped by 6–7%.

The soluble fiber in orange peels may also reduce cholesterol absorption in your gut and increase its excretion.

Can Help Lower Blood Pressure

Orange peel extract may help reduce high blood pressure. The hesperidin flavonoid appears to have blood pressure lowering effects:

  • It helps relax blood vessels and increase blood flow.
  • It acts as a diuretic to remove excess fluid.
  • It may improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Research shows eating oranges and drinking orange juice is linked to reduced blood pressure, so eating the peel may provide similar benefits.

Aids Blood Sugar Control

Eating orange peel extract has been shown to reduce blood sugar spikes after high-carb meals and improve blood sugar control overall. This is attributed to a few factors:

  • The fiber slows digestion and carb absorption.
  • The peels inhibit digestive enzymes that break down carbs.
  • They improve insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin resistance.

Better blood sugar control can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and its complications.

May Have Anticancer Effects

Orange peel contains plant compounds that have been shown to help prevent and possibly treat certain cancers. Two of the main anticancer agents in orange peel are polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs) and d-limonene.

In studies, orange peel extracts high in PMFs have shown the ability to stop the growth and spread of certain types of cancer cells, including breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

D-limonene has also been shown to have anticancer effects. It secreted in orange oil contained within the peels.

May Support Brain Function

The flavonoids in citrus peels, including oranges, may help preserve memory and cognitive function. Hesperidin and nobotanin, in particular, have been linked to improved brain health and may help prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Some human studies show citrus flavonoids support brain function and people’s ability to process information quickly and accurately.

Contains Nutrients that Benefit Skin

Orange peel is high in vitamin C, which is essential for collagen production and skin health. Collagen provides structural support in your skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

The flavonoids in orange peel also help protect your skin from oxidative damage from the sun’s harmful UV rays. This may help prevent sunburn, cell damage, wrinkling, and pigmentation.

May Aid Weight Loss

Eating orange peels may support weight loss in a few ways:

  • They are low in calories and high in fiber to help you feel full.
  • The pectin fiber gels in your gut to slow digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Bioactive compounds may prevent new fat cell formation.
  • Polymethoxylated flavones may prevent metabolic syndrome.

In one study, mice fed a high-fat diet along with dried orange peel powder had less weight gain and body fat than a control group.

How to Eat Orange Peels

There are several ways you can add orange peels to your diet:

  • Add grated peel to salads, baked goods, yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies.
  • Make orange peel tea by boiling peels in water then drinking the cooled liquid.
  • Dehydrate peels and eat them as a snack or crunchy garnish.
  • Infuse vinegar or olive oil with orange peels.
  • Make sugar scrubs for your skin by mixing coconut oil and peels.

When using peels, be sure to wash the oranges first since they may have pesticide residues. Focus on eating just the orange part of the peel and avoid the white pith, which can be bitter.

It’s best to consume orange peels in moderation, especially if you take any medications, since the oils may interact with drugs. Speak to your healthcare provider.

Potential Side Effects

Eating orange peels is likely safe for most people when consumed occasionally in normal food amounts.

Potential side effects can include:

  • Indigestion or nausea from eating too much peel.
  • Allergic reaction in people allergic to oranges.
  • Medication interactions due to bergamottin in the peel.

The compound bergamottin, which gives orange peel its bitter taste, can potentially affect how certain medications are broken down in your liver. If taking any prescription medications, check with your doctor before eating large amounts of orange peel.


Orange peels are low in calories and rich in fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Eating them may provide benefits for heart health, blood sugar levels, cancer risk, brain function, skin health, immune function, and more.

While orange peels are edible, introduce them slowly to your diet and be cautious if taking any medications due to possible interactions. Overall, eating orange peels can be a healthy addition to your diet and may provide an easy way to get more nutrition.

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