Banana Peels In Sugar Cookies? They Make The Treats More Healthful, Researchers Found

Banana peels mostly end up in the trash or compost bin, but they are now finding more yummy uses. Researchers have found that using a bit of banana peel flour on sugar cookies can make the dessert more healthful and even more satisfying.

For their new study, published in ACS (American Chemical Society) Food Science & Technology, the researchers looked at how adding banana peel flour would affect the nutritional and antioxidant content of sugar cookies compared to those made solely with wheat flour.

Researchers recently found that banana peels can be made into flour, the ACS noted in a news release. Banana peel flour is rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium and antioxidants. Using it to replace "small amounts" of wheat flour in baked goods such as cakes and breads has also been found to make them "more nutritious." However, experiments haven't been widely done on cookies, according to ACS.

For their work, the researchers made various batches of sugar cookies, replacing up to 15% of superfine wheat flour with banana peel flour. They compared them with a control batch of cookies without any banana peel flour.

They found that the sugar cookies with banana peel flour were "more healthful," having less fat and protein. Meanwhile, the control cookies had the highest fat and protein content. The antioxidant properties also "significantly increased" in the cookies with the banana peel flour substitute.

The sugar cookies with banana peel flour were also browner and a bit harder than the control that had only wheat flour, possibly because of the higher fiber content, according to ACS. The hardness, however, decreased while in storage.

Among the cookie batches with varying amounts of banana peel flour substitute, the ones identified by a "trained panel" to have the "best texture and highest overall acceptability" was the batch with 7.5% banana peel flour substitution, ACS said. The cookies "kept well" in storage for about three months at room temperature and even tasted the same as the controls that used only wheat flour after the storage period.

"The results showed that cookies enriched with BPF [banana peel flour] were obtained with improved antioxidant properties and total phenolic content without altering their physical and nutritional properties and also fathomed the favorable acceptance," the researchers wrote.

This shows promise for using banana peel flour to enrich foods' nutritional content while still maintaining "consumer acceptance." It's also a novel way of reducing food waste. For instance, ACS noted that there is now also banana peel "bacon," which may also be appealing for those considering a more plant-based diet.

According to the United Nations (UN), "tons and tons" of edible food end up getting wasted every day. Reducing food waste is essential, especially with world hunger continually increasing.

"Stop food loss and waste," the UN noted. "For the people. For the planet."

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