Putting a slice of lemon in your water is hands down the easiest way to feel like a wellness rockstar. You could have spent the whole weekend eating double-stuffed Oreos and your sneakers could be gathering dust in the back of your closet, but put a little citrus in your H20 and boom—you feel healthier already. But while much talk is done around lemon water, the benefits of the lemon peel are pretty much ignored. Which is honestly too bad because they’re full of benefits just like the rest of the fruit.
“Despite the fact that lemon peels are often discarded, they do have nutritional benefits,” says registered dietitian Katherine Brooking, RD. “The lemon peel is contains small amounts of calcium, vitamin C, and potassium, as well as fiber.” Considering you’re not exactly going to sit down and nosh on lemon peel, you might be wondering what the best way is to reap that stellar list of benefits. Well, keep reading my friend. Besides more details on the nutritional benefits, we’ve got some other surprising ways to put lemon peel to good use.
1. Lemon peels contain calcium. As Brooking pointed out, lemon peels have a small amount of calcium, which is important for maintaining strong bones and cellular communication. Simply put, if you don’t get enough calcium, your body isn’t going to function properly, so it’s important to get enough. (For women, that’s 1,000 milligrams a day for women 50 of younger.)
2. They’re good for your immune system. Like other citrus fruits, lemon peels contain vitamin C, which can help keep your immune system strong. If you’re starting to feel sick, zesting lemon peel into your foods or even in your tea could help give your body the extra boost it needs to power through.
3. Lemon peels have potassium. Lemon peels also have a small amount of potassium, which like calcium, is needed for cells in the body to communicate properly. Especially if you sweat a lot (yes you, in your post hot-yoga drenched workout clothes), it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough. Otherwise, your body just isn’t going to function.
4. They’re good for your digestive system. To Brooking’s point about the fiber in lemon peel, this is important because fiber is crucial for keeping your digestive track running properly. Other major fiber benefits: helping lower inflammation and keeping your metabolism in check.
5. They could be good for your heart. “There is some evidence that lemon peels may help to lower blood pressure,” Brooking says, citing a scientific study that found that a combination of consuming lemon and walking every day lowered blood pressure. “The water extract of lemon peels had a suppressive effect on blood pressure,” the study reads, in part.
6. Lemon peels could help protect against cancer. “Some studies indicate that limonene and the other flavonoids in lemon rind are directly linked to preventing the formation and spread of cancerous tumors, particularly, cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, and stomach,” Brooking says. It seems that their anti-inflammatory powers are really quite strong.
1. As a zest. All of these health benefits sound fantastic, but what exactly is the best way to consume lemon peel? According to Brooking, the most common way is as a zest—and it literally works on anything. Not only will you reap the nutritional rewards, but it makes everything taste just a little bit fresher. “While most of us don’t eat raw lemon peels, a great way to incorporate the peel into your diet is by freezing whole, organic lemons,” Brooking says. “Grate the sprinkles of lemon peel over your yogurt or oatmeal, in your drinks, and on your soups for a zesty flavor.”
2. Make a lemon peel-infused olive oil. Make your own lemon peel olive oil to drizzle on your salad, zucchini noodles, or fish to get all the nutritional benefits mentioned here and a good serving of healthy fats. Talk about a genius pantry staple!
3. Work it into your butter. This is an especially good tip if you’re a ketogenic diet devotee and butter is an oft-used item at your house. Zest lemon peel right into your butter so it’s ready to spread on all your fave foods. This tastes delish on savory and sweet dishes.
1. Use them to make a non-toxic all-purpose cleaning solution. Lemons are an all-natural cleaning powerhouse, peels included! Make your own solution by infusing lemon peels in a jar of vinegar. And you’ll still get that “just cleaned” smell, too.
2. Work it into a DIY beauty treatment. Thanks to the citric acid, lemon peels could be beneficial for treating acne. Make your own beauty water by grating lemon skins into a bowl, squeezing the juice into another bowl, and then mixing the peels and juice together. Then, gently massage the solution into your face for an all-natural, acne-fighting treatment.
3. Use them to make insect repellant. Um, best smelling bug spray ever? Instead of something loaded with weird chemicals, rubbing lemon peel on your skin can help keep insects away.
4. Stash them anywhere that stinks. Whether it’s the bottom of your trash can, your bathroom, or in the fridge, lemon peels can help neutralize gross smells. Just throw them wherever needs some freshening up.