Banana- World’s Healthiest Foods
Bananas grow in more than 100 countries and are a major food crop throughout the tropical world, where they are cultivated in many sizes and colors, including red, yellow, purple, and green. Only 10 to 15 percent of the bananas grown are for export. In the United States, the vast majority of supermarket bananas are the Cavendish variety, a sweet, seedless, yellow “dessert” banana one eaten without cooking. Plantains, which have become more readily available in recent years, are banana varieties intended for cooking, and they tend to be less sweet and more starchy.
Benefits of Bananas:
- Safe and pure enough for baby’s first solid food, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Bananas are a terrific, heart-healthy food when included in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. While many factors affect heart disease, diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of this disease.
- Naturally fat-, cholesterol- and sodium-free
- A good source of potassium, dietary fiber, manganese and vitamins B6 & C
Most of us can afford the 15 grams of carbohydrate found in half a banana in exchange for its nutrient benefits, given that Americans typically get only about half the recommended daily intake of potassium.
One medium raw banana provides 105 calories, 26.7 g carbohydrate, 1.2 g protein, 0.5 g fat, 2.7 g dietary fiber, 92 IU vitamin A, 10 mg vitamin C, 22 mcg folic acid, 451 mg potassium, 7 mg calcium, 23 mg phosphorus, and 33 mg magnesium.
Nutrients and Calories in a Banana
Chiquita bananas are a smart, convenient addition to a healthy lifestyle. With 110 nutrient-dense calories per serving (126 grams, or one medium-sized banana) it is deliciously easy to add Chiquita bananas to your family’s routine.
Nine things you probably never knew about this nutritious tropical food.
1. Hands and Fingers
Bananas do not grow on trees. The banana plant is classified as an arborescent (tree-like) perennial herb and the banana itself is actually considered a berry. The correct name for bunch of bananas is a hand of bananas; a single banana is a finger.
2. Heart Health
One banana contains 467mg of potassium, providing powerful protection to the cardiovascular system. Regular consumption of the potassium-packed fruit helps guard against high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and stroke.
Although bananas do not contain high amounts of calcium, they do supply the body with an abundance of fructooligosaccharide, a prebiotic substance (one which encourages probiotics, the friendly bacteria in the digestive system). As fructooligosaccharides ferment in the digestive tract, they enhance the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
4. Energy and Mood Balancing
Another benefit to bananas high potassium content derives from that mineral’s role as an energy-supplying electrolyte. Since bananas also contain tryptophan, serotonin and norepinephrine, they help prevent depression while encouraging feelings of well-being and relaxation. In addition, the vitamin B6 in bananas helps protect against sleeplessness, mood swings and irritability.
Bananas, combined with the African herb orinol, have been used to treat cataracts in Nigeria. They also share with other fruits the ability to prevent macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in adults. According to a study published in the Archives of Opthmalogy in 2004, people who eat 3 servings of fruit per day are statistically unlike to develop the vision-diminishing disease.
6. Better Digestion
Bananas suppress acid in the digestive tract, alleviating heartburn and helping guard against ulcers. Since bananas contain pectin, a soluble fiber, they aid in the elimination process, helping prevent constipation.
7. Baby Food
Since they are easily digested, bananas are a perfect food for babies just beginning to move to solid foods.
8. HIV Protection
The Journal of Biological Chemistry in March 2010 published a study which revealed the healing potential of BanLec, a lectin protein in bananas. Researchers found that this protein which binds to sugars can also bind to HIV-infected cells, enveloping them and preventing their replication and transmission.
Due to modern shipping practices, this tropical yellow berry born of a herb seems so ubiquitous that most consumers take it for granted. However, the banana’s constant availability could end soon. Nearly all the bananas sold in stores are cloned from just one variety, the Cavendish banana plant, originally native to Southeast Asia. This means disease could potentially wipe out the cloned plants in one fell swoop. Next time you peel and eat a banana, take the time to savor its flavor and texture, so if this fruit disappears, you can tell future generations about the healthy snack encased in yellow flesh.
That potential disappearance does not derive from science fiction speculation. Botanists say it is likely to happen in the next 20 years and in fact it already has happened. At the beginning of the last century, the dominant banana species was the Gros Michel, also a cloned species, which was wiped out by fungus. The Gros Michel was preferred over the Cavendish because it was larger and had a longer shelf life, and, according to old-timer recollections, better-tasting. The Cavendish replaced the Gros Michel after the latter species decimation because, of the over 1,000 varieties of bananas in the world, most do not have an appealing taste. There are the less sweet plantains, and also a variety called Goldfinger which has an apple-like taste.
9. Save the peels
Even the peels of this fruit are useful. Apply the inside of a banana peel to pimples to naturally dry out these skin blemishes. Also, banana peels make a wonderful fertilizer, particularly for roses.