Reason why it's important to not throw away orange peel explained by doctor

Close-up of a woman's hands peeling a tangerine.
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

Even with careful planning, there's often small amounts of waste that come when preparing a meal. But, an expert has weighed in on why these scraps shouldn't be destined for the bin.

Those who enjoy home cooking have been warned they could be throwing away the best bits of raw ingredients. They might enhance the dish or have a whole different use in the kitchen.

NHS surgeon Dr Karan Raj, posting a video on his TikTok to his 5.3m followers, said: "When eating an orange, don't discard the orange peel. You probably don't want to eat these directly but you can use the zest for extra nutrition.

"The orange peel itself is rich in a soluble dietary fibre called pectin. The peels contain high levels of Vitamin C - sometimes as much as, if not more, the flesh of the fruit itself.

"The peel contains carotenoids and polyphenols which are anti-inflammatory compounds. For example, you can have it as a topping on ice creams or even with cakes or yoghurt."

Research indicates orange peel contains a higher concentration of polyphenols, which are beneficial plant compounds, compared to the inside of the orange. A 2023 study found peels had higher levels of phenolic compounds, vitamin C, flavonoids, and antioxidant activity than their internal, wasted parts (seeds and pulp) in each citrus variety.

In the same video, Dr Raj advised against throwing away seeds from butternut squashes and pumpkins. He claimed the seeds are "a great source of plant-based protein" and suggested roasting the seeds and adding them into soups and salads or they could be snacked on raw.

Onion and garlic are common cooking ingredients in a variety of dishes - but the online doctor said we're wasting the best part. He said: "The skin of both can be added to soups, stocks and stews and removed prior to serving to "extract all the beneficial nutrients" like Vitamin A and C.