Banana peels may be more valuable to our health than many assume. The peels of bananas contain many compounds that help the body heal. They may also prevent artery disease.
Banana peel extract inhibits atherosclerosis
Researchers have determined that a banana peel extract blocks the ability of oxidized LDL-cholesterol from sticking to and damaging artery walls. This means that the molecule blocks the process of artery plaque build up.
The study was published in the Vascular Pharmacology Journal, an Elsevier publication.
The molecule, 7, 8-dihydroxy-3-methyl-isochromanone-4 – also called XJP-1 – blocks the process of artery plaque build up by stimulating a metabolic process whereby it blocks the expression of two adhesion molecules called ICAM-1 and VCAM-1. These two molecules are typically produced when LDL-cholesterol is oxidized, turning the molecule into a free radical. It is this adhesion process that has been implicated in the process of artery damage, inflammation and the subsequent build up of plaque.
The researchers found that banana peel extract also slows down the process of inflammation that takes place among the arteries by blocking NF-kB and JNK/p38 processes. However, this inflammatory cascade is rooted at the suppression of the reactive oxygen species (free radical form) of LDL-cholesterol.
The build up of plaque inside blood vessel walls and their subsequent loss of elasticity – also called atherosclerosis – is a major cause of cardiovascular disease. It leads to an advanced form of hardening of the arteries – arteriosclerosis – and the release of clots that block arteries. When major arteries that lead to the heart or brain are blocked, heart attacks and strokes result.
The research was conducted using human endothelial cells in the laboratory in an environment that mirrored that of the bloodstream and artery walls.
Healing plant phenols
The XJP-1 is a class of molecules called plant phenols. Plant phenols – also called polyphenols when there are multiple phenols in one molecule – are abundant in the plant kingdom. Examples of plant phenols include tannins, lignans, flavonoids, gallic acid, ellagic acid and many others. For example, the phenol epigallocatechin gallate found in green tea has also been shown to block the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol.
Maybe those strings of banana peel often left sticking to the banana aren’t so yucky after all.
Isn’t it elegant that the lining within the “walls” (peels) of the banana so happen to help keep our own artery walls healthy.
Fu R, Yan T, Wang Q, Guo Q, Yao H, Wu X, Li Y. Suppression of endothelial cell adhesion by XJP-1, a new phenolic compound derived from banana peel. Vascul Pharmacol. 2012 May 17.