What Are the Chemical Properties of a Banana Peel?

Written by heather martens
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What Are the Chemical Properties of a Banana Peel?
Banana peels are used as an alternative source of cooking fuel in Kampana, Uganda. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Musa sapientum (banana) peels have been used in conjunction with other substances to remedy the achy and painful symptoms of arthritis. They are composed of nutritive chemicals, minerals, and nonnutritive chemicals. Banana peels have both highly beneficial and highly dangerous constituents and can be manipulated to serve both as a remedy and a poison.

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Minerals and Nutrients

Mineral content in a banana peel is primarily consistent of potassium (78.10mg/g) and manganese (76.20mg/g). Other minerals present are sodium, calcium and iron at 24.30, 19.20 and 0.61 mg/g respectively. The peel's high potassium content, if taken orally, aids in maintaining normal blood pressure.

About 91.50 per cent of a banana peel is organic nutrient matter consisting of lipids, proteins, crude fibre and carbohydrates. About 31.70 per cent of total mass is fibre with carbohydrates accounting for 59 per cent and protein and lipids accounting for 0.9 and 1.7 percents respectively. The high fibre content is useful as a natural laxative.

Phytates

Phytate (myo-inositol hexaphosphate) content of a banana peel is 0.28mg/g, lower than in most whole grains. The only risk associated with phytate and dietary consumption comes from a lack of it. Low phytate consumption increases risk for osteoporosis and adding it to the diet increases bone density.

Saponins

Saponins are known for their foaming property and are another potentially dangerous constituent of a banana peel. The levels are high in banana at 24 per cent, greatly exceeding the 3.00 per cent level marked safe for consumption by animals. Saponins consumption at high levels can paralyse the sensory system and are known to increase cholesterol production in the body.

Oxalates

Oxalates are organic acids associated with kidney disease and are known to decrease the absorption of minerals, such as calcium, in the body by binding with them decreasing their availability. Eighty per cent of all kidney stones occurring in adults in the United States are calcium oxalate stones. The oxalate level in a banana peel is 0.51mg/g, which is low and relatively non-threatening.

Hydrogen Cyanides

Of the anti-nutritive constituents the most poisonous is hydrogen cyanide. It is present in the peel at 1.33mg/g. The chemical can cause immediate death if taken in high dosages and in small dosages may cause stiffening of the throat and chest, heart palpitations and weak muscles. Amounts in a peel fall into the 0.5 to 3.5mg/g safe range.

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