Everyone loves banana—even Donkey Kong does! It’s just one of the most popular fruits in the planet and is considered safe to consume from tot to old folks. If you visit someone’s house, it is most likely that you will find a banana on the dining table. That’s how popular it is. But, what really is a banana?
It’s a berry.
Yes, botanically, banana is considered an edible, leathery berry that is found in many countries. It is a runner plant that’s not hard to grow. Although a lot of people mistakenly describe banana as a tree—no it is not. Its huge trunk is actually not a trunk, but a false stem called pseudostem. There are two kinds of bananas: the plantains and dessert bananas. The former is firmer, starchier, plumper, and has thicker skin. Plantains are commonly cooked before being eaten, but some can be eaten raw when ripe. And then there are the dessert bananas, which are softer, longer, sweeter, and have thinner skins. Cavendish bananas are the most popular dessert bananas that you will always see in fruit stands.
Over the years, banana has been considered as one of the healthiest, yet cheapest, food in the market. It is even considered a staple food in many Asian countries. Bananas can be eaten raw (when ripe) and can also serve as an ingredient to many dishes and desserts. It’s so popular that banana flavour can be found in many products in the market like syrups, ice cream, candies, breakfast cereals, oats, and even kiddie vitamins and medicines!
Although people are so familiar with this berry, mostly are sure that it’s healthy, you probably are thinking, what really is the score for this? This article will give you exactly what you need to know: the top 5 health benefits of banana.
What’s In It?
If there is one word in the field of medicine that you can associate with banana, it’s potassium. Yes, this berry is packed with potassium, an important electrolyte that helps the heart function normally. In fact, it’s so healthy that it’s even considered naturally (yet slightly) radioactive than other fruits. This is because of the fruit’s natural potassium content and the potassium-40 found in it. Although banana is safe to consume for all ages, people with latex allergy might have reaction upon eating the fruit.
However, this fruit is not popular for nothing. Not only it is cheap and delicious, but it is also nutritious. For a raw banana, you get a daily value per (100gms or 3.5oz.) of the following: Carbohydrates (22.84g), Energy (89kcal or 371kJ), Sugars (12.23g), Protein (1.09g), Dietary Fiber (2.6g), and Fat (0.33g). Banana is also packed with numerous vitamins like the following: Vitamin B6 (31% or 0.4mg), Thiamine (Vitamin B1) (3% or 0.031mg), Panthothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) (7% or 0.334mg), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) (6% or 0.073mg), Niacin (Vitamin B3) (4% or 0.665mg), Choline (2% or 9.8mg), and Folate (Vitamin B9) (5%). Minerals can also be found in this fruit such as: Manganese (13% or 0.27mg), Magnesium (8% or 27mg), Iron (2% or 0.26mg), Sodium (1mg), Phosphorus (3% or 22mg), and Zinc (2% or 0.15mg). A banana is also made up of water (about 74g).
Trivia: Bananas are made up of two types of fibre: (1) The Pectin, which helps digestion. However, this fibre gradually decreases as the banana ripens. The second one is the (2) Resistant Starch, which is commonly found in unripe bananas and plantains. What’s good about resistant starch is it’s not affected by digestion; it merely escapes, and goes through your large intestines where it eventually serves as a food for the gut bacteria (gut microbiota). The latter are very important in keeping your immune system boosted. Although it is advisable to eat diverse food for your healthy gut, you can be rest assured that banana can contribute in this.
So, here are some of the top 5 health benefits of banana:
#1: It’s Good for Your Muscles
Bananas are naturally rich in potassium—and potassium has a role in making your muscles healthy. Not only that, it contributes in keeping your fluid levels (called electrolytes) at regulated levels, making your body, not only your muscles, function properly. Potassium also helps in regulating the flow of nutrients and waste components in and out of your cells. Ever heard of hypokalemia? It is a condition caused by the lack of potassium in the body. Usually, a person may experience muscle cramping when experiencing hypokalemia. This condition primarily attacks the muscles. From a simple leg or arm cramping to fatal cases like hypokalemia periodic paralysis that affects the heart muscles, the lack of potassium in the body is something that should not be taken lightly. There are many underlying causes why the potassium levels go down. Some have chronic kidney diseases, thyroid problems, while the simplest cases would be the lack of potassium intake in someone’s diet.
Banana is a miracle fruit when you want to boost your potassium intake for your muscle health. It improves your muscle contraction and nerve cells response. You would want to believe from now on that aside from the popular fruit, apple, a banana a day also keeps the doctor away.
#2: It is High in Anti-Oxidants and Good for the Heart
When you hear about ‘anti-oxidants’, the first thing that probably comes into your mind is coffee. This might surprise you, but bananas also have high anti-oxidant content! These anti-oxidants provide protection against chronic diseases and free radicals. Your body cannot produce its own anti-oxidants; that’s why it is reliant on the anti-oxidants it gets from the food you eat. Some of the most common anti-oxidants found in bananas are the following:
Vitamins A, C, and E, Selenium, Beta-Carotene, Lycopene, and Lutein (this is based on the information given by the National Nutrient Database). Also, additional/ anti-oxidants present in banana are catechins and dopamine. These are found to be very beneficial in reducing the risks of degenerative and heart diseases.
Even better, Cavendish bananas (or Musa Cavendish) were studied found to have a generous amount of an anti-oxidant called gallocatechin. The latter was separated from the fruit’s peel extract and was found to have a strong anti-oxidant effect/activity. Surprisingly, the peel has abundant supply of gallocatechin than in the pulp itself. It was also proved that the more gallocatechin a banana has, the better antioxidant effects it produces.
Because banana supports muscular health, and the heart is mostly made up of muscles, it also automatically boosts cardiovascular health. Bananas contain a good amount of potassium and magnesium, which are both essential for your heart’s health. Not only that, bananas are also good in keeping your blood pressure regulated. If you have hypertension, including banana on your daily diet is advisable. This fruit helps in lowering blood pressure, maintain your blood circulation in good condition.
People who are implementing a potassium-rich diet have a good chance of lowering the risks of heart diseases.
The Banana Flower
#3: It Prevents Infection and Bleeding
Did you know that banana fruit is not the edible part of the plant? The banana flower (also called banana heart) can also be eaten when cooked. The ethanol-based extract from the flower helps in treating infections through preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Some of these bacteria are E.coli, bacillus subtalis, and bacillus cereus. Banana flower also helps in minimizing wound infection and healing.
Women who are suffering from PMS symptoms and excessive bleeding can try eating banana flower. A cup of cooked banana flower concocted with yogurt is a great meal to increase the progesterone hormone in a woman’s body. If you are woman experiencing the same symptoms, it won’t hurt to try this remedy. Just make sure to get rid of the glue-like extract from the flowers before cooking it to lessen the flower’s strong taste. Mash the sliced flower with salt and rinse it with clean water.
#4: Good for Managing Other Diseases
Banana flower is also a great addition in a diet when it comes to managing other diseases like diabetes and anemia. The flower has properties that reduce blood sugar levels. It’s also been proven that banana flower also helps in increasing hemoglobin levels.
Suffering from depression is not caused by circumstances alone. Diet also plays a huge role in keeping your body healthy. When you are eating the right kind of food, your body functions at optimum level—even your heart and your mind. Keeping yourself hydrated and eating the more veggies and fruits helps in maintaining a healthy body and mind. Banana flower improves mental health and it reduces anxiety. How’s that? The magnesium found in the flower serves as a natural anti-depressant, and because a banana flower has a good level of Magnesium, it somehow helps in giving your daily dietary needs.
Banana Flower Nutritional Value
For every 100g of banana flower, you get the following:
- Vitamin E (1.07mg)
- Protein (1.6g)
- Magnesium (48.7mg)
- Kcal (51)
- Potassium (553.3mg)
- Fat (0.6g)
- Copper (13mg)
- Carbohydrates (9.9g)
- Iron (56.4mg)
- Fiber (5.7g)
- Phosphorus (73.3mg)
- Calcium (56mg)
#5: Good for Breastfeeding Moms
When a woman gives birth to a young one, countless of struggles are met—and one of the many problems that a new mom faces is a gradually decreasing milk supply. Not every mom is blessed with abundant breastmilk, and when the situation calls for an urgent solution, home remedies are always available.
Banana fruit and flower have properties that boost milk supply. Here is a great recipe that you should try:
Sautéed Banana Flowers
- Banana flower, sliced thinly (2 cups)
- Red onions, sliced thinly
- Garlic, sliced thinly
- Tofu, diced small
- Vinegar (3 tablespoons)
- Ground pepper
- Olive oil
- Heat up the pan and pour the olive oil.
- Adjust the fire into medium heat.
- Sauté onions and garlic. Don’t wait for the onions and garlic to turn golden brown because it will add bitter taste to the dish.
- Put the diced tofu and continue to stir.
- Add ground pepper and salt to taste.
- Add 2 cups of sliced banana flower and concoct the ingredients evenly.
- Add 3 tablespoons of vinegar to give the dish a sour kick. If you’re not so fond of regular vinegar, you can also use other agents like balsamic vinegar, lime extract or calamansi extract. Adjust the sourness or acidity of the dish depending on your preference.
- (Optional) Others prefer putting half a cup of water to the dish. But if you want undiluted and pure taste, cover the dish, and let it simmer for a few minutes in low fire.
- Remember, the secret to extracting the banana flower’s juice is to simmer it while covered in low fire. Just enough to let the heat and smoke circulate under the covered dish. If you put it under medium fire, there is a big chance that the juice will dry up because of excessive heat.
Long and short of it, banana is truly an amazing plant—whether it’s the fruit or flower, it really does something wonderful in your body. There are a lot of ways to enjoy a banana. You can eat the fruit raw, add it as an ingredient for baking, or concoct the flower into any savoury dish. Just as long as you are including banana in your daily diet, aside from other healthy foods and having your regular physical exercise, you can be sure that you’re having a healthy lifestyle. Even better, you won’t have to splurge a lot of cash just to include banana in your daily diet. For about a dollar a pound, it surely won’t affect your budget that much. What are you waiting for? For a healthy lifestyle, go to the nearest market and buy a banana!
We hope you enjoy reading the top 5 health benefits of banana!
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