Banana Nutrition Information & Facts

David Tinney

Bananas, rich in carbohydrates, also contain phosphorus, potassium and vitamins A and C. Containing three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose 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 fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Banana To Help Overcome Illnesses

Bananas, as an integral part of a diet, can help or overcome a number of illnesses and conditions. Consider the benefits of the banana and these conditions:

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, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills -- eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it the perfect way to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

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 brainpower. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milk shake, 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.

Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body; so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady. Read more about over weight and how to stop it.

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control: 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 Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan

Smoking: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be balanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes: According to research in "The New England Journal of Medicine, "eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrates, 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.

Bananas are a great source for nutrition. They are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. One banana has 16% of the fiber, 15% of the vitamin C, and 11% of the potassium we need every day for good health. So maybe its time to change that well known phrase so that we say, "A banana a day keeps the doctor away!"

More about the Banana

The fruit originated in Asia but is now raised in the tropics of both the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Brazil is the leading banana producer, followed by Uganda, India and the Philipines. Latin - American countries supply more than 90% of the bananas eaten in North America.

The most common kinds are Dwarf Cavendish, Valery, and Williams Hybrid bananas. Other types of bananas include Apple and a small red banana called the Red Jamaica. A large type of banana called the plantain is hard and starchy and is almost eaten as a cooked vegetable. Generally,only the fruit of the banana plant is used. But the leaves of some kinds of banana plants contain useful fibers. People in many tropical countries use the leaves of these plants to build roofs for houses and to make bags,baskets and mats.

Bananas grow in hot, damp climates and thrive in rich, sandy loam soil that has good drainage. Banana farmers start a crop by cutting growths from the underground stems of mature banana plants. These growths,called suckers, are planted in the ground. Three to four weeks later, tightly rolled leaves sprout from the suckers. The leaves unroll as they grow until they look like large drooping feathers. Fully grown leaves are30 to 61centimetres wide. The “trunk” of the banana plant is really the stalks of the leaves. As the leaves grow, they become tightly wrapped in a bundle.

The banana plant grows from 2.4 to 9 metres tall and looks like a tree. But it is not a tree because it has no woody trunk or boughs.

When the plant is 2 months old, a large bud at the end of a thick underground stem grows from the bundle of leaves. The bud has lots of small purple leaves called bracts. After the stem grows through the top of the plant, the bracts roll back, revealing clusters of small flowers. These flowers develop into tiny green bananas. A cluster of bananas is called a hand and consists of 10 to 20 bananas, which are known as fingers.


Banana Recipes:

1 large firm banana, slightly underripe, peeled and diced
1/2 cup each: diced red and yellow bell peppers
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt to taste

Mix ingredients, taste, and adjust seasonings. Great with fish or pork. Serve within one hour for best flavors and texture.