Banana peels could be the secret ingredient for healthier sugar cookies

WASHINGTON — How can you make a sweet treat like sugar cookies more nutritious? A new study suggests adding a banana peel to your recipe! Researchers have found that using banana peel flour in sugar cookie batter creates a cookie loaded with more nutrients that still tastes the same!

In recent years, banana peels have gone from simply trash to a nutritious treasure, with people using them as various meat alternatives. The skins are extremely fibrous, making them tough to eat raw. However, when you grind them down into flour, the peels contain rich amounts of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidant compounds.

Previous studies have found that replacing ordinary wheat flour with banana peel flour in breads and cakes creates more nutritious baked goods that have acceptable flavors. Until now, however, there has been little research into banana peel cookies.

In the new study, an international team looked at the nutritional quality, shelf-stability, and consumer acceptance of sugar cookies substituting some of its wheat flour for ground banana peels.

How do you make banana peel flour?

Scientists first peeled ripe, undamaged bananas. They then blanched, dried, and ground the skins into a fine powder. In their cookie recipes, the team mixed in different amounts of banana peel flour with butter, skim milk powder, sugar, vegetable oil, and wheat flour — creating five different batches of cookies.

The amount of banana peel flour ranged from 0 to 15 percent. Results revealed that adding more banana peel flour created a browner and harder cookie. Researchers say this is likely because of high levels of fiber in banana peels.

As for the positives, study authors found that the banana peel flour created a cookie that had less fat and protein, more phenols, and better antioxidant activity than an ordinary cookie. A panel of tasters found that cookies with 7.5 percent banana peel flour had the best taste and texture out of all the different batches.

The baked goods also had a shelf life of three months at room temperature — tasting the same as wheat-only cookies after a long storage period.

The findings are published in the journal ACS Food Science & Technology.

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