There is more going on in the humble banana than meets the eye.
Apart from the number of ripe banana calories
, there are a huge number of banana facts that tell us this wonderful fruit offers many healthy benefits.
From the beginning there is an interesting story about bananas. Bananas are not fully ripened on the tree, they are picked when 75% ripe to prevent them from splitting open and becoming infested with insects.
During shipping the ripening process continues, involving a chemical change whereby protopectin is converted into soluble pectin. Starch is also converted into sugars of which 20% is glucose, 14% is fructose and the remaining 66% is sucrose.
How Bananas Ripen - Ethylene
Ripening bananas give of a gas called ethylene, which develops the color along with ripening. Most fruits give off this gas as they're ripening; however bananas give of an exceptionally large amount. So much ethylene is given off that it can actually assist other fruit to ripen if it is in proximity. A ripening banana in a sealed container with green tomatoes will help them ripen quite quickly.
As an aside, did you know that green oranges are exposed to high levels of ethylene in order to turn them orange? People want their oranges to be orange, green ones; even though they may be ripe are just not the same; but back to the banana facts.
The unique smell of a banana is caused by amyl acetate.
Bananas also have a calming effect; this is because they contain an amino acid called tryptophan. This is converted to serotonin and causes a calming effect because it is a brain inhibiting neurotransmitter.
As well as being an internal lubricant, green bananas are used in the treatment of hemorrhoids and diarrhea.
In fact, an amazing diarrhea remedy that really works well is to mash a banana with a couple tablespoons of carob and eat! Soon the diarrhea will be gone.
More than just a tasty fruit, the skin of a banana contains esterified fatty acids, which can be used as a skin lotion. Natives rub banana peels on their skin problems; which is supported by modern research, which says that banana peels used on red, scaly patches of psoriasis will provide a natural relief. Exorex lotion is a patented lotion created from the isolation of the esterified fatty acids and is sold commercially.
Vitamin B6, which is good for carpel tunnel suffers and vitamins A and B, as well as dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, calcium are in bananas. They are also rich with niacin, riboflavin and potassium. Bananas have a high-energy value, which makes them ideal for people on the go, and have also been used to help replenish potassium that is lost during bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.
There are small amounts of pectin contained in bananas. This is a food fiber that prevents the absorption of fat, which may help in lowering cholesterol levels; however pectin should not be consumed at the same time as foods that contain essential fatty acids that the body needs, such as fish. Bananas also have a small amount of hemicellulose which is an indigestible fiber and they are also low in sodium.
Only Eat Ripe Bananas
Make sure your bananas are fully ripe when you eat them. Apart from being unpleasant to eat, green bananas can also be quite harmful. Green bananas nutrition contains proteins that limit the digestion of complex carbohydrates; this is because they inhibit the amylase enzyme.
There is a way to prolong the life of a ripe banana. By putting them in the fridge it will slow the ripening of the fruit by slowing the enzyme actions. This will darken the skin by releasing polyphenoloxide. This means that the skin may go brown but the fruit on the inside will still be great for eating.
However if you do leave them a little too long you can use over-ripe bananas in cooking including pancakes and banana bread. You can even freeze a banana. If you peel them and eat them quickly before they go mushy this can be a very tasty treat. Better yet, put a few of them in a blender for a fabulous frozen banana smoothie.
When to Avoid Bananas
It is not all good news for the banana though; there are some effects that we should be aware off. Bananas can interfere with the effectiveness of some drugs; an antidepressant or antihypertensives known as MAO inhibitors (monoamine oxidase) is one such drug. MAO inhibitors work by inhibiting the action of Tyramine, an enzyme that constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure.
Tyramine, is found in bananas; which means the effectiveness of drugs that reduce Tyramine such as MAO inhibitors are less effective and can result in a hypertensive crisis or raised blood pressure.
There are several foods that can create a false positive when testing for tumor markers. Carcinoid tumors can arise from the lungs, intestines and the endocrine system. These tumors secrete serotonin, so the test for these tumors is the measure the amount of serotonin that is in the body.
Serotonin is excreted from the body in the urine, and the level is therefore measured by testing for the amount of serotonin that is contained in the urine. As mentioned earlier, bananas contain a large amount of serotonin and therefore will create a raised level in the urine, which can be interpreted as the detection of tumors, even if it is not the case. It is important that you do not consume bananas for at least three days before one of these tests.
Bananas are not alone in creating this effect. There are other foods that will produce the same results, including walnuts, plums, tomatoes, eggplant, avocado and pineapple.
Comparing Apples and Bananas
Moving on from banana facts and banana nutrition lets have a brief look at another favorite fruit, the apple.
We have all heard the expression "an apple a day can keep the doctor away"; well there is a lot of truth in this wisdom. The apple does a number of things for the body. It can cleanse the lungs of phlegm, stimulate the appetite as well as boost the immune system. Fresh apple juice is great fro cleaning the gall bladder and the liver, but there is also something more to the humble apple.
Apples aid in the removal of toxic metals from the body such as mercury and lead and assist in binding radioactive residues to enable to body to excrete them. Because an apple contains malic and tartaric acid, this helps to prevent gastric fermentation which then assists in preventing bacterial growth in the digestive system.
Beware of Pesticides and Chemical Sprays
One problem with apples is that they are usually grown with the aid of chemical sprays and pesticides. Washing an apple before eating will help to remove this but it doesnot eliminate it entirely. A lot of these chemicals are sprayed on the actual apple tree. They are then dripped into the soil and absorbed by the tree. The fruit of the tree then contains these chemicals from the inside out as well as the outside in. To avoid this you should consider organic apples. Although they are not as pretty, they are certainly better for you and are generally a great deal tastier as well.
To eat commercially or non-organic fruit is like eating nice healthy food with a dash of poison added for effect. In order to get the full benefit of a healthy diet that contains lots of fresh fruit and vegetables you have to seriously consider organic produce. You don't need the poison.
Here are some places where you can obtain organically grown apples.
This article was written by Ira from Global Health Supplements. He is in his 80's, and when he was diagnosed with heart disease he turned his disease around and took control. Ira discovered an incredible nutritional program that delivers because it gives your body the nutrients it needs to become... The Great Self Healer!”
Click here to learn about Ira's story > Ira's Nutritional Program
Additional Banana Facts
The three natural types of sugars banana contain are:
These sugars along with fiber are what provide you with an instant boost of sustained and substantial energy. In fact if you were to eat two bananas prior to a ninety minute workout you'll have enough energy to last through the entire workout. Perhaps this is the reason so many top athletes eat their bananas. There is more to this yummy fruit other than just the fitness benefit of the banana. It actually assists us in preventing a substantial number of physical ailments, conditions, and diseases.
High in potassium, this tropical fruit is extremely low in salt, making it the perfect way to beat blood pressure. In fact the USDA allows the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.
If you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief because of the natural antacid effect in the body.
The Vitamin B6 in this fruit helps regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
Because tryptophan is an substance found in the banana they are helpful for depression. Tryptophan helps the body by converting this protein in serotonin. This action helps with relaxation and can stimulate feelings of happiness. So another benefit of eating bananas is mood enhancement.
Bananas help with the production of hemoglobin in your blood and are high in iron which helps with symptoms of anemia.
Research has identified that the potassium in bananas help brain power. A middle school actually had 200 of their students eat bananas to get through their exams this year. They ate bananas at breakfast, morning break, and at lunch which helped them stay alert and proved to help in test scores.
Because fiber is good for our digestion, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action without resorting to laxatives.
Now this is a wonderful way to quickly cure a hangover. Just make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. This fruit calms the stomach and the honey helps builds up depleted blood sugar levels. The milk also soothes and re-hydrates your system.
Pregnant women often get morning sickness as their blood sugar bounces around. Snacking on bananas during the day between meals can help bring relief.
Yes, bananas have natural anti itch properties so try using the inside of the skin on mosquito bites to reduce irritation and swelling from these annoying insect bites.
B vitamins are known to help calm the nervous system and Bananas are high in them.
SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder:
The tryptophan in the banana is an natural mood enhancer, which can help reduce feelings associated with SAD.
Because bananas contain B6, B12 along with magnesium and potassium they help the body recover from the symptoms associated with the withdrawal of nicotine.
Because the mineral potassium is a nutrient that helps balance the heartbeat, sends the brain oxygen it is useful for helping alleviate stress. When we are stressed out the body raises our metabolic rate which uses our potassium reserves. Eating a banana helps us rebalance.
This is a stunning statistic, the The New England Journal of Medicine," reported that "eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!"
There's the banana facts and evidence...this tropical fruit is truly a healthy choice.