Benefits of Orange Rind
food chemists find nutritional gems in unlikely places - the garbage can, for instance. After all, that's where most people toss their orange peels, which are the subject of a study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service lab in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania.
The carbohydrates found
in orange peels have intriguing, potentially health-promoting "prebiotic" properties, the scientists say. Prebiotic - not to be confused with probiotics, the healthy bacteria found in dairy products like yogurt - are a kind of carbohydrate that feeds such beneficial organisms, keeping your large intestine healthy and free of food borne pathogens and other harmful microbes. "When you promote the growth of those health-promoting bacteria, they out compete the other bacteria that may cause disease or make you sick,” You may one day see orange-rind derivatives listed on ingredient labels of foods and beverages, Hotchkiss says. "Orange juice, yogurt, 'healthy' beverages, and possibly margarine spreads would be examples of foods that could be fortified with orange-peel probiotics," he says, noting that more research is needed before these prebiotic-fortified products find their way to the supermarket.
For now, however, consider saving a little orange zest to toss into your cake batter or cereal or as a topping for sweet curd frozen yogurt. There's no guarantee that zest will produce the same results gathered over time in a lab. But when it comes to playing food scientist in your kitchen, a little tasty experimentation may add some health benefits.
Save the peel on your next orange and freeze it in a zip-top plastic bag. It'll be easy to zest when you need it.