Bananas – They are good for you!

Where do bananas come from?

Banana Tree

Banana Tree

Bananas are the fruits of the banana trees. Banana trees are commonly grown in the tropics. In Malaysia we can find bananas in most grocery shops, markets and also fruits stores.

There are many types of bananas in Malaysia. Currently, the Cavendish bananas are the most popular type of bananas offered for sale.

Here is a picture of the Cavendish bananas.

Cavendish

Cavendish

Another type of bananas that you can commonly find in Malaysia is the  “Pisang Emas” which is its name in Bahasa Melayu and can be translated as “Golden Banana” in English.

Pisang Emas

Pisang Emas

Bananas are available all year round in Malaysia.  Bananas are so common that we have overlooked its properties and benefits to us.

Bananas are said to be a fruit for the athletics.

They are a great source of potassium, a mineral involved in proper muscle contraction. Insufficient potassium is one of the main causes of fatigue, in the muscle. Bananas are great for athletic and fitness activities because they replenish necessary carbohydrates, glycogen and body fluids burned during exercise. Potassium is essential for proper muscle contraction. This is important because it helps regulate the normal rhythmic pumping of the heart, digestion, muscular movements, etc., some studies have linked low potassium levels in the body may result in high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke.

Beneficial to kidneys and bones.

The benefits to the kidneys and the bones are again due to the high potassium content of bananas. A normal intake of potassium suppresses calcium excretion in the urine and minimizes the risk of kidney stones. Potassium in bananas minimizes the loss of calcium from the body and thereby reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

Alleviate PMS symptoms.

Bananas are also helpful in reliving common PMS symptoms like cramps, bloating and mood swings. Bananas have a great combination of A1, C, B6 and B12 vitamins.

Do bananas make you fat?

The minerals and sugar content in bananas will help to provide a source of energy for the strenuous activity. People worry a lot about the carbohydrates (especially the sugar part) in bananas. A small banana only contains about 100 calories, which is not much more than a medium apple. Nor should it raise your blood glucose level too high.

An average ripe banana has a glycemic index of 52 and 24 grams of available carbohydrate resulting in a glycemic load of 12. An apple having a glycemic index of 38 and 15 grams of available carbohydrate has a glycemic load of 6 … Although an apple may be a little better choice for a snack, eating a banana is not all that bad either because foods with glycemic loads in the low teens and below are the ones that should be selected as part of a balanced diet. (source:USDA.gov)

Anaemic?

Bananas are also good for your blood as they contain iron, which is good for those suffering from anaemia. Bananas contain one of the highest sources of naturally available vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is essential in producing antibodies which maintain a healthy immune response to infection. Vitamin B6 helps our body converts tryptophan to serotonin, and also helps the body to produce haemoglobin which is a crucial part of our blood. It aids in the conversion of carbohydrates to glucose. This process is essential for maintenance of proper blood sugar levels.

Bad mood?

Eating bananas can put some people into a better mood! The high vitamins B contents in the banana help calm the nervous system. Bananas also contain tryptophan which help the body to produce serotonin which has a calming effect on the brain. This creates a state of calmness in our minds. Furthermore vitamins B6 and B12 which is found in bananas can help to alleviate depressive symptoms.

Do you want a hangover cure?

Try making a banana milkshake. The recipe is as follows:

Take one medium size banana, a glass of milk and a tablespoon of honey. Blend it in the blender. Add ice if you need to, otherwise you can take it as it is.

It is effective because the milk will soothe your stomach and rehydrates your system. It will also prevent heart burn because of the natural antacid effect on the stomach. The sugar in the banana replenishes the sugar in the blood and the minerals and vitamins in the banana put back into the body what was excreted.

Diet and bowel movements.

It is a common fact among Malaysian that bananas are known to help in bowel movements for those who suffer from constipation.  One medium sized banana contains approximately 12 per cent of the daily recommended fibre intake and only 105 calories. Bananas contain pectin, a soluble polysaccharide which helps in digestion and normalize the digestive tract.

How to store bananas?

Bananas should be store in a cool dry place. It will help the bananas to ripen slowly. Banana will turn brown and black when it is overripe.

Instructions: How to keep bananas from turning brown.

Tie a string around the comb of the banana and hang them up. This will help to prevent bruising the banana and cause it to turn brown.

Bananas Display in Store

Bananas Display in Store

Place your bananas into a bowl. Squeeze an entire lemon over the peels just one time. The acid in the lemons will prevent the oxygen from turning the peels black for several days.

Banana Basket

Wrap the bananas tightly in plastic wrap and/or aluminium foil. Place the bananas in the freezer and thaw each one out when you’re ready to eat it.

What Causes Bananas to Ripen?

Bananas are green in colour when they are unripe. They will begin to turn yellow as they begin to ripen. A ripe banana is when it is yellow in colour and some brown spot can be seen on the skin. That is the right time to eat the banana. After that, the skin becomes a rich yellow and then it turns brown and eventually black.

The ripening process is also dependent on the ambient temperature. The warmer the temperature, the faster the banana will ripen.

This is caused by an enzyme in the banana called polyphenol oxidase. This enzyme reacts with the oxygen in the air and turns the skin of the banana yellow and then brown and then black. It is sort of like a rusting process. This enzyme is also found in apples, potatoes and pears, water melons and many other types of fruits.

Of course you can treat the skin of the banana with lemon juice which can counteract the oxidizing process and delay the browning of the skin of the banana.

A bruised banana will oxidize faster than one that is not bruised.

Another enzyme that makes bananas sweet is called amylase. Amylase breaks down the starch in the banana fruit its smaller sugar components, called glucose, which makes the banana tastes sweet.

The enzyme that softens the banana is called pectinase. Pectinase breaks down the cell walls in the banana fruit so that it is less firm. The peel of the banana also becomes softer as it ripens.

Eat more local fruits.

So, I hope you will look at the humble banana with a set of different eyes. Local bananas are good to eat and in fact are very nutritious. Don’t just eat apples, pears, apricots and other temperate fruits.

Our bananas are just as good or even better for you. Remember we are exporting our bananas to many other countries too!

They love bananas!

Banana Bunch

Advertisements