Botanical name: Musa acuminata colla
There are many reasons why bananas are one of the most popular foods in the world. They offer the perfect portion size, come in their own handy, natural protective wrap, and are extremely economical. Fresh and creamy, bananas mix well with other fruits and are a favorite lunchtime addition or for noshing on the go.
One of the most cultivated tropical fruits, bananas are a close relative to the plantain, which is larger and darker. Over centuries, bananas have been used to settle upset stomachs (including morning sickness), reduce stress, ease heartburn pain, relieve constipation, soothe PMS symptoms, cure warts, and stimulate brain power. There might be something to those medicinal uses…
Bananas contain all kinds of good things – health-promoting flavonoids and poly-phenolics, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, beta and alpha carotenes, acting as free radical-gobbling antioxidants. That’s also an advantage in the high vitamin C content, most known for its infection-fighting properties.
Just one banana contains 467 mg of potassium, which is important for controlling your heart rate and blood pressure. This is interesting, since the same amount of banana has just one milligram of sodium. The vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) in bananas provides around 28% of what is needed daily to help prevent anemia and coronary artery disease.
And that’s just part of it. Fiber in abundance helps keep your digestive system regulated. Magnesium helps strengthen your bones and protects your heart. Manganese is needed to activate antioxidant enzyme. One banana supplies an adequate amount of copper to keep up the production of red blood cells.
Note: You can freeze bananas, but if you refrigerate them, they’ll turn black.
Research showed that among fruits and vegetables proven to be associated with cutting your risk of renal cell carcinoma, bananas were the highesr 1. Another study showed that bananas, which are rich in vitamin A and carotenoids, have the potential to protect you against chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other types of cancee. 2
More positive proof of banana’s singular health benefits emerged in a study showing an important link between foods containing high levels of potassium, magnesium, calcium and fiber – like bananas, for instance – and a reduction in the risk of stroke in men. 3
Bananas probably originated in Malaysia; transported by early explorers to India, where they were first referenced in sixth century BCE Buddhist writings. Alexander the Great tried his first banana while on campaign in India and is said to have brought the fruit to the Western world.
The “why they’re so healthy” list is a long one – good thing bananas are so easy to eat! Potassium, vitamins A, C, and B6, fiber, flavonoids, and antioxidants – it’s all there, wrapped in a convenient, protective package.
This tropical fruit that was up to a century ago practically unknown throughout North America, Europe, and even China’s mainland is now a common food staple. You can even dehydrate them to enjoy alone or add to trail mix.
However thin you slice bananas, rest assured they’re good and good for you. However, eat bananas in moderation because they contain fructose, which is harmful to your health when consumed in excessive amounts.
Sources and References:
1 Fruits, vegetables and risk of renal cell carcinoma: a prospective study of Swedish women, Aug. 2012