Are banana peels safe to eat?

When you eat a banana, you likely peel it, then chuck the skin into the garbage or toss it onto your compost heap. However, did you know that some people actually prepare and eat the banana peel? As it turns out, the banana's peel has some value for vegetarians and vegans (as well as those who just want to cut down on their meat consumption) — it can be turned into "bacon" (via Lifehacker) and "pulled pork" (via The Stingy Vegan), for starters. If you've ever gotten close to a banana peel, though, you probably imagine they could be bitter and tough. Preparing them in a specific way takes care of that part, but is it even healthy or safe to eat banana peels?

Eating a banana peel may not be common around these parts, but people around the world do consume them, as they're completely edible (via LiveScience). It's important to note that banana peels are not poisonous and they're also not toxic. Studies have even shown that banana peels are an excellent source of fiber, protein, potassium, and fatty acids (via Journal of Food and Science Technology).

The jury is out on those benefits, though, as Today reports. One expert who was interviewed noted that while there are nutrients in a banana peel, the amounts are small and it's not known if the human body can even break them down and use them. 

Whether you're just wanting to avoid food waste, or you're looking to try something new in your plant-based diet, it's important to either buy organic bananas or clean them well before preparing. "The only harm I see [in eating banana peels] is pesticides that may have accumulated on the surface," David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University told Today. "So if you want to put them in your smoothie in the morning you might get a dose of that — if you don't wash them really well."