Bananas are one of the most widely consumed fruits in the world for good reason.
The curved yellow fruit packs a big nutritional punch, wrapped in its own convenient packaging. Some scientists believe that the banana may have even been the world’s first fruit.
Dan Koeppel, author of Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, traces the banana back to the Garden of Eden, where he believes it was the banana, not the apple, that was the “forbidden fruit” that Eve offered Adam.
Today, bananas are grown in at least 107 countries and are ranked fourth among the world’s food crops in monetary value. Americans consume more bananas than apples and oranges combined.
With the world consuming so many bananas, its unsurprising that people are asking the question: are bananas good for you?
Adding a banana to your daily diet has an array of benefits in your body. Bananas help you reach your weight-loss goals, keep your bowels healthy, provide nutrients that regulate heart rhythm and have vitamin compounds for eye health. Keep a bunch of bananas on your desk at work and replenish your stock each week. You’ll be more likely to reach for a healthy banana — instead of heading to the vending machine — if you have a bunch sitting in front of you.
Laura Flores, a San Diego-based nutritionist reported Flores reported a wide variety of health benefits associated with the fruit.
“Bananas are known to reduce swelling, protect against developing type-2 diabetes, aid in weight loss, strengthen the nervous system and help with production of white blood cells, all due to the high level of vitamin B6 that bananas contain.”
Bananas are good for your heart. Bananas’ high potassium and low sodium content may also help protect your cardiovascular system against high blood pressure, , according to the FDA.
Depression and mood
Bananas can be helpful in overcoming depression “due to high levels of tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin, the mood-elevating brain neurotransmitter,” Flores said. Plus, vitamin B6 can help you sleep well, and magnesium helps to relax muscles.
Digestion and weight loss
Bananas are high in fiber, which can help keep you regular. One banana can provide nearly 10 percent of your daily fiber requirement. Vitamin B6 can also help protect against type 2 diabetes and aid in weight loss, according to Flores. In general, bananas are a great weight loss food because they taste sweet and are filling, which helps curb cravings. They also help sustain blood sugar levels during workouts.
Carrots may get all the glory for helping your eyes, but bananas do their share as well. The fruits contain a small but significant amount of vitamin A, which is essential for protecting your eyes, maintaining normal vision and improving vision at night, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Bananas may not be overflowing with calcium, but they are still helpful in keeping bones strong. According to a 2009 article in the Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, bananas contain an abundance of fructooligosaccharides. These are non-digestive carbohydrates that encourage digestive-friendly probiotics and enhance the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
Some evidence suggests that moderate consumption of bananas may be protective against kidney cancer. A 2005 Swedish study found that women who ate more than 75 servings of fruits and vegetables cut their risk of kidney cancer by 40 percent, and that bananas were especially effective. Women eating four to six bananas a week halved their risk of developing kidney cancer.
Bananas may be helpful in preventing kidney cancer because of their high levels of antioxidant phenolic compounds.
Banana peels are usually served cooked, boiled or fried in some capacity, though they can be eaten raw or put in a blender with other fruits. They are not as sweet as banana flesh. Riper peels will be sweeter than unripe ones.
Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.
200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.
One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana smoothie, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels.
- Bananas may have been the world’s first cultivated fruit. Archaeologists have found evidence of banana cultivation in New Guinea as far back as 8000 B.C.
- Bananas are produced mainly in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, Asia and the Americas, as well as the Canary Islands and Australia.
- Bananas do not grow on trees. The banana plant is classified as an arborescent (tree-like) perennial herb, and the banana itself is considered a berry.
- The correct name for a bunch of bananas is a hand; a single banana is a finger.
- Nearly all the bananas sold in stores are cloned from just one variety, the Cavendish banana plant, originally native to Southeast Asia.
- There are 50 recognized species of banana.
- Wild bananas grow throughout Southeast Asia, but most are inedible for humans, as they are studded with hard seeds.
- The vast majority of bananas grown today are for consumption by the farmers or the local community. Only 15 percent of the global production of the fruit is grown for export.
- India is the leading producer of bananas worldwide, accounting for 23 percent of the total banana production, though most of the Indian plantains are for domestic use.
- In 1923, sheet music for a popular song titled “Yes, We Have No Bananas!” sold upward of a thousand copies a day.
- Harry Belafonte’s version of the “Banana Boat Song” was released on the first album to sell over a million copies, Belafonte’s “Calypso.”
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