Seven reasons to go bananas for bananas
Bananas, for the most part, come with a bevy of health benefits, making it a total package all on its own. It’s also one of the most consumed fruits in the U.S., with the average American eating more than 11 pounds of bananas each year (over just 10 pounds of apples, the second most-consumed fruit). Interestingly enough, bananas don’t come from trees — the plant the fruit comes from is technically a herb as the stem does not contain true woody tissue.
Still, no matter where it comes from, bananas offer a range of health benefits, including treatments for digestion, depression, and more. Eating two bananas a day can relieve bloating and increase the number of good bacteria in the gut. People who have mood problems would benefit from eating bananas, thanks to vitamin B6 and tryptophan which help in regulating and boosting mood. The fruit is also great for people with chronic conditions like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, as it is packed with essential nutrients to improve their condition and help regulate their cholesterol levels.
Bananas have got you covered
People have been eating bananas for a long time, with written records saying that the fruit has been part of our diet for thousands of years. The plant is believed to be native to Southeast Asia, where many varieties of wild bananas still grow today. While the international trade of bananas started by the end of the 14th century, developments in transport — in particular, refrigerated maritime transport — helped make bananas into the most traded fruit in the world. Currently, bananas are grown in 150 countries, with 105 million tonnes produced annually. There are different varieties of bananas; however, the most commonly consumed is the Cavendish variety.
In terms of calories, a medium-sized banana only has 95 calories, and it can provide a natural, sustained energy boost without the fat, cholesterol, and sodium of other common snacks. Here are more reasons to add bananas to your diet, if you haven’t already:
1. It’s high in fiber. Bananas are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps a person stay full for a long time. It’s one of the reasons that bananas are often part of breakfast in many regions in the world.
2. It improves heart health. Foods that are high in fiber, such as bananas, lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases like coronary disease.
3. It helps with digestion. In Ayurveda, bananas are described to have a sweet and sour taste. The sour taste, in particular, can stimulate agni or the digestive juices, which play a major role in digestion and metabolism build-up.
4. It’s nutrient-rich. Bananas are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including B-vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, folate, and B6; calcium; potassium; manganese; and magnesium. These play a synergistic role in keeping the body healthy.
5. It’s one of the best sources of potassium. The fruit is known to be a rich source of potassium, which is important in regulating heartbeat and blood pressure. The brain also uses potassium to stay alert. However, those with advanced chronic kidney disease should seek the advice of a healthcare professional before eating bananas, as this may cause potassium levels in the body to rise to unsafe levels.
6. It regulates blood pressure. The low salt content in bananas, coupled with its high potassium content, make the fruits ideal in managing hypertension.
7. It fights anemia. People suffering from anemia would do well to eat bananas, given its high iron content.
Bonus: Start your day with this healthy banana bread recipe
The difference with this banana bread recipe over others is that it uses ingredients like whole wheat flour and naturally sweetened honey, rather than using refined flour and sugar which can send a person’s blood sugar through the roof.
What you’ll need:
• 1/3 cup, melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil;
• 1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup, if you prefer);
• 2 eggs;
• 1 cup, mashed ripe bananas;
• 1/4 cup milk or water;
• 1 teaspoon, baking soda;
• 1 teaspoon, vanilla extract;
• 1/2 teaspoon, salt;
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon;
• 1 3/4 cups, whole wheat flour;
• nuts or dried fruits of your choice (optional).
How to do it:
1. Preheat oven to 325 F (165 C).
2. Grease a 9-by 5-inch loaf pan.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the oil and honey. Add the eggs and beat well, then whisk in mashed bananas and milk. (If the coconut oil becomes solid after coming into contact with the cold ingredients, rest it in a warm place like on top of a stove for a few minutes.)
4. Add the baking soda, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon, then whisk to blend.
5. Switch to a spatula and stir in the flour gradually until combined. If you have any additional mix-ins, such as walnuts, gently fold them in as well.
6. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and lightly dust with cinnamon on top.
7. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. (To see if the bread is properly baked, poke it with a toothpick to the center. The toothpick should come out clean afterward.)
8. Remove from the oven and let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes.
9. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool for an additional 20 minutes before slicing.
March 8, 2019
Also available in: Français