Bananas’ health benefits make bananas one of the most nutritious fruits in the world. And the fact that banana tastes good makes banana all the more popular.
Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose and combined with fiber, a banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes.
But energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep healthy and fit. Bananas can also help overcome or prevent a number of illnesses and conditions such as depression, stroke, cancer, anemia and ulcers, making bananas a must to add to our daily diet.
Did you know that a banana milkshake is one of the quickest ways of curing a hangover?
And did you also know that bananas can help you quit smoking?
So, a banana is one super food, isn’t it? However, bananas have had a bad rap due to bananas high calorie content, most of which comes from it’s sugar content. So people tend to reach for an apple for snack instead. After all, a regular apple has only 72 calories compared to almost 100 calories in a banana. But when you compare a banana to an apple, a banana has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around.
Well now, don’t you think it’s time to change that well-known phrase to say, “A banana a day keeps the doctor away.”
Nutrition Facts About Banana
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)||%DV|
|Total Fat||.33 g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber||2.6 g||10%|
|Vitamin A||64.0 IU||1%|
|Vitamin C||8.7 mg||15%|
|Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)||0.1 mg||1%|
|Vitamin K||0.5 mcg||1%|
|Vitamin B6||0.4 mg||18%|
|Vitamin B12||0.0 mcg||0%|
|Pantothenic Acid||0.3 mg||3%|
One banana is 100–150 g. Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Source: USDA Nutrient database
External use of Banana
Mosquito Bites Relief
Many people report that rubbing the inside of a banana peel on a mosquito bite is very effective in reducing itching and swelling.
Take a piece of Banana peel and place the yellow side out on the wart. Tape it there over night. Change the peel every 12 to 24 hours until the wart is gone. This is one of the effective home remedies for warts.
Poison Ivy Relief
Touted by many as a homemade “miracle cure”, the inside of a banana peel rubbed on poison ivy rashes seems to bring instant, cooling relief. By some accounts, banana skins may even do the trick when all other poison ivy treatment fails.
Banana Face Mask for dull and dry skin, reduce wrinkles
Two medium sized bananas and honey (Optional). Mash the bananas. Add honey if desired. Smooth over the face and neck and leave on for 15-20 mins. Then rinse off with cool water and pat dry with a clean dry towel.
Health Benefits of Banana
Bananas help reduce depression
According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.
Bananas help prevent anemia
Bananas are relatively high in iron, which helps the body’s hemoglobin function. The most common cost of anemia is iron deficiency.
Bananas help Constipation and Diarrhea
Due to their content in fiber, they help restore a normal bowel function. In addition, diarrhea usually depletes your body of important electrolytes, the most important of which is potassium contained in high amounts in bananas. They also contain pectin, a soluble fiber (hydrocolloid) that can help normalize movement through the digestive tract.
Bananas help keep bones healthy
Eating bananas frequently can increase our body’s ability to absorb calcium. In addition, green bananas contain indigestible short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that are very nutrient to the cells that make up the linings of the intestines. When these cells are well-nourished and healthy, the body’s ability to absorb calcium becomes much more efficient.
Bananas help reduce the risk of kidney cancer
Research studies published in the International Journal of Cancer show that frequent consumption of fruits and vegetables, especially bananas, cabbage and root vegetables, may reduce risk of kidney cancer. This is because bananas and many root vegetables contain especially high amounts of antioxidant phenolic compounds.
Bananas help prevent high blood pressure
Bananas are extremely high in potassium (a big banana has about 478 mg and very low in sodium – 1 mg), which is a perfect ratio for preventing high blood pressure. The US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claim that bananas have an ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.
Bananas help reduce the risk of stroke
According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of your regular diet reduces the risk of stroke by 40%.
Bananas are natural remedies for heartburn
Ripe bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.
Bananas can help avoid morning sickness
Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood-sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.
Bananas can help you stop smoking
Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. Banana nutrients such as vitamins B6 and B12, as well as potassium and magnesium help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Bananas help prevent gastritis and ulcers
Ripe bananas are considered the most effective home remedy for gastritis and peptic ulcers. Bananas help reduce acidity and reduces irritation in the stomach lining and contain protease inhibitors that have been pinpointed as a primary cause of ulcers.
Bananas help give eyesight protection
Research published in the Archives of Ophthalmology has proven that adults consuming at least 3 servings of fruit per day have a reduced risk (by 36%) of developing age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.
Bananas help relieve stress
Bananas are high in potassium, which helps normalize the heartbeat and regulate the body’s water balance. During periods of high stress, our body’s potassium levels tend to be rapidly depleted: eating bananas is a healthy way to re-balance them without using drugs.
Bananas help improve nerves
Bananas are high in B vitamins that have been found to improve nerve function. Also, studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods, like bananas, every two hours to keep levels steady.
Bananas can help delay senility
Bananas are also rich in vitamin C and vitamin A and, combined with bananas’ high potassium content, it is ideal to strengthen the mind. Eating bananas frequently can help delay senility.
Bananas can boost Brain Power
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.
Bananas cure for Hangovers
One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
Bananas can help PMS
Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
Bananas can help control body temperature
Many other cultures see bananas as a “cooling” fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.
Bananas can help Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.
History of Bananas
The English name “banana” came from the Guinean native name “banema” which was the first found printed name for this fruit. Historians believe that bananas have apparently originated in Malaysia.
The banana as we know it today is a specifically-grown species of the wild banana. The wild banana was not edible plus it had big seeds that would make it difficult to eat anyway. But it was discovered that by crossing two inedible, wild species, one could grow an edible but sterile plant that bore the banana as we know it today. Because of its sterility, once this new edible fruit was discovered, it was spread using offshoots from the base of the plant. Some people argue this was the first fruit farmed by men.
In 327 B.C., Alexander the Great’s army recorded for the first time in history the existence of banana crops in the Indian valleys. Alexander is also credited for bringing the banana from India to the western nations.
By 650 A.D., Islamic conquerors helped bananas make their way to Madagascar, and then spread to the African mainland by vegetative propagation. Here in Africa many genetic mutations occurred, that produced different species of bananas. Portuguese traders then spread the fruit from Africa to the Canary Islands.
Around 1502 A.D., the Portuguese and the Spanish are credited for bringing bananas to the Caribbean and to America. According to Spanish history, Friar Tomas de Berlanga brought the first banana root stocks to the Western Hemisphere. A Chinese variety was sent to England, where it was named “Cavendish” after the Duke of Devonshire’s family. This variety and its sub-groups account for much of the commercial banana cultivation. Even though several other varieties are now cultivated for commercial purpose, they only account for about 20 of 300 different species.
The yellow sweet banana is a mutant strain of the green and red cooking bananas, discovered in 1836 by Jamaican Jean Francois Poujot. He found that in his plantations, one plant was bearing yellow fruits rather than red or green. Upon tasting the new discovery, he found it to be sweet in its raw state, without the need for cooking. He quickly began cultivating this sweet variety and the rest as they say is history.
In 1876 A.D., bananas were introduced to American families as an exotic dessert. From here it will grow and become a staple fruit. They were officially introduced to the American public at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. Each banana was wrapped in foil and sold for 10 cents.
Today, bananas are considered a commodity and are traded by large companies. The United Fruit Company is credited for being of the first to commercialize bananas.
The main commercial producers of bananas include Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil and Ecuador.
Banana Tree – Musa Acuminata
Musa acuminata is not a tree, but a perennial herb. Its leaves are usually grouped together, forming a trunk-like structure (pseudostem).
Each pseudostem normally produces a single inflorescence, also known as the banana heart, although there are some exceptions. The inflorescence contains many bracts (sometimes incorrectly called petals) between rows of flowers. The female flowers (which can develop into fruit) appear in rows further up the stem from the rows of male flowers. The ovary is inferior, meaning that the tiny petals and other flower parts appear at the tip of the ovary.
The banana fruits develop from the banana heart, in a large hanging cluster, made up of tiers (called hands), with up to 20 fruit to a tier. The hanging cluster is known as a bunch, comprising 3-20 tiers, or commercially as a “banana stem”, and can weigh from 30-50 kilograms (66-110 lb). In common usage, bunch applies to part of a tier containing 3-10 adjacent fruits.
Individual banana fruits (commonly known as a banana or ‘finger‘) average 125 grams (0.28 lb), of which approximately 75% is water and 25% dry matter.
Banana trees can flower at any time of the year. The fruits usually develop in a horizontal fashion, which then becomes vertical when the weight of the bananas is sufficient. From the moment the inflorescence is visibile from the leaf sheaths, about three months are necessary for it to mature
Banana trees are best cultivated in a highly organic soil, with a neutral to slightly acid PH (5.5-7.0). A lot of water is usually needed for the plant to grow and yield bananas. The size of the plant in the first 3-4 months greatly affects the weight of the bunch and number of “hands” (the group of bananas).
Young plants are best nourished with a fertilizer solution of 6-2-12, with 3% magnesium. The solution is to be applied approximately every 2 months, and the fruiting will be complete after about 10-18 months later
Since this herb is sterile, the only way of propagating it is by the removal of suckers (corms) from the original plant.
In popular culture and commerce, “banana” usually refers to soft, sweet “dessert” bananas. By contrast, Musa cultivars with firmer, starchier fruit are called plantains.
Plantains are cooking bananas. Plantains are used in various stews and curries or cooked, baked or mashed in much the same way as potatoes.
Bananas feature prominently in Philippine cuisine, being part of traditional dishes and desserts like maruya, turrón, and halo-halo. Most of these dishes use the Saba or Cardaba banana cultivar. Pisang goreng, bananas fried with batter similar to the Filipino maruya, is a popular dessert in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. A similar dish is known in the United States as banana fritters.
Banana hearts are used as a vegetable in South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine, either raw or steamed with dips or cooked in soups and curries. The flavor resembles that of artichoke. As with artichokes, both the fleshy part of the bracts and the heart are edible.
Banana leaves are large, flexible, and waterproof. They are often used as ecologically friendly disposable food containers or as “plates” in South Asia and several Southeast Asian countries. Especially in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu in every occasion the food must be served in a banana leaf and as a part of the food a banana is served. Steamed with dishes they impart a subtle sweet flavor. They often serve as a wrapping for grilling food. The leaves contain the juices, protect food from burning and add a subtle flavor.
The tender core of the banana plant’s trunk is also used in South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine, and notably in the Burmese dish mohinga.
Prep time: 2 mins Total time: 2 mins Servings: 1 Calories: 505.8
- 5 scoops vanilla ice cream
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 full very ripe banana
- Put ingredients in blender.
- Blend for about 45 seconds or until smooth
Sugar Free Banana Cream Pie
Prep time: 20 mins Total time: 20 mins Servings per recipe: 6 Calories per serving: 295.5
- 2 (1/8 ounce) boxes jell-o sugar-free instant banana cream pudding mix (or you may use one big box of this pudding mix, the choice is yours)
- 2 3/4 cups skim milk
- vanilla extract (imitation or pure)
- 1 (9 inch) graham cracker pie crusts
- 3 bananas, sliced
- cinnamon (for dusting)
- sugar-free Cool Whip
- Beat both boxes of pudding mix into 2 3/4 cups milk, adding any amount of vanilla extract you want, in a large bowl with a wire whisk for 1 – 2 minutes.
- Using a large spoon spread a little bit of the pudding mixture on the bottom of the pie crust for the first layer of pudding, followed by adding a layer of sliced bananas on top of the pudding layer. Continue doing this until you run out of pudding mix and banana slices. You may use more or less bananas according to your preference.
- Using a small icing spatula or a spoon apply some whip cream to the top of the pie, covering it all the way around.
- Sprinkle some cinnamon powder into the palm of your hand and then gently dust the cinnamon powder lightly over the top of the pie by gently using your hand/fingers.
- You may serve the pie now or place it in the refrigerator for an hour to chill (my recommendation).
- Leftovers should be placed back into the refrigerator to keep cool.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep time: 15 mins Total time: 1 hr, 15 mins Servings per recipe: 16 Calories per serving: 503.4
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 1/2 cups icing sugar
- For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
- Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
- Add icing sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth.
- Spread on cooled cake.
Best Ever Banana Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed, ripe
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 1/8 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 275°.
- Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan.
- In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla.
- Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
- Stir in banana mixture.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist.
- Make the frosting and spread on cooled cake.
- Sprinkle chopped walnuts over top of the frosting, if desired.
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