Bananas, The Power Fruit

The banana has been called the “world’s most perfect fruit” because of its nutritional value and health benefits on consumption

28th March 2016

Both adults and children in the family love bananas equally. Bananas! It is that curved fruit having its sweetness and taste. Bananas are available throughout the year at your nearest store at an affordable cost.

Common Banana linked Myths

Myth 1: Bananas are fattening

Fact:They are starchy fruits making you feel fuller on consumption containing NO fat or cholesterol.

Myth 2: Bananas cause constipation

Fact: Bananas are high in fiber and pectin content, both of which enhance bowel movement and easy passage of stools. They are bowel cleansers and also aids in fighting dyspepsia (stomach upset).

Myth 3: Potassium content of bananas causes hyperkalemia (high potassium levels)

Fact 3: A banana of medium size has 450mg of potassium. The American Institute of Medicine recommends a DRI (Daily Recommended Intake) of 4700 mg of potassium in adults.Therefore consuming bananas as a light meal (1-2 bananas) would not lead to an overdose of potassium in the diet.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: Bananas are one of the tropical fruits with the highest calorie content (110 calories/ serving).

Fat: A banana DOES NOT contain fat or cholesterol.

Carbohydrates: The fruit pulp is loaded with simple sugars like fructose, glucose and sucrose which, together aid in providing instant energy and replenishment for body’s energy reserves on its intake. This characteristic of bananas makes them one of the most preferred fruits among athletes. It is also used to treat underweight conditions in children.

Bananas contain fructo-oligosaccharides, that aid in the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria in the gut. (Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, 2009) These components enhance the body’s ability to absorb calcium.

Dietary Fiber: Apart from the soluble dietary fiber pectin, bananas also contain protease inhibitors which protects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract against ulcers.

Proteins: Bananas are good sources of the amino acid tryptophan, which helps in fighting depression and mood swings. Tryptophan is converted to Serotonin, a neuro-transmitter that helps elevate the mood. It also acts, incidentally, as a sleep inducer.

Antioxidants and other components: Polyphenolic antioxidants like lutein, zea-xanthin, beta and alpha carotenes are found in bananas in traces. These antioxidants delay the aging process in humans. According to a study conducted in Sweden, these antioxidants aided in reducing the risk of kidney cancers to half among women who ate four to six bananas a week.

Vitamins

Vitamin A in bananas aids in normal day and night vision and prevents an irreversible condition known as ‘macular degeneration’ of the eyes.

Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, a vitamin mostly found in foods of animal origin, is surprisingly enough found in bananas in good amounts that aids in cell formation.

Vitamin C in bananas aids in accelerating your immune function, cell maintenance and iron absorption rates.

Vitamin B3 (niacin) and Vitamin E are found in traces in this fruit.

Minerals

Bananas are one of the best natural sources of the mineral-potassium that forms an important component in muscle and nerve functioning as well as in maintaining body fluid balance. Potassium controls the heart rate, blood pressure and negates the effects of sodium retention in the body. Daily intake of potassium-rich bananas alleviates chances of atherosclerosis and stroke in humans. Studies have linked the high intake of potassium in bananas to a lower rate of pain intensity in rheumatoid arthritis patients. (Journal of Pain, American Pain Society, 2008)

Traces of minerals-magnesium, manganese and copper- are also found in bananas. Magnesium is essential for strengthening your bones and protects the heart. Copper is essential for RBC formation. Manganese aids in boosting metabolic activities and bone health.

The nutritive values given in the table are taken from USDA National Nutrient Database.

Selection and Storage

On selecting bananas, you need to look for its firm and bright appearance with intact stems and tips. It should be free from bruises or cuts. When a banana starts ripening, the starch content in the green bananas gets converted to easily digestible sugars like glucose and fructose. The banana peel turns yellow in color.

Diabetes patients and insulin resistant individuals are not advised to take ripe bananas due to its easily digestible sugar components.

Plan on when to buy bananas only based on when you want to add the fruit to your daily diet. Unripe bananas need to be kept at room temperature to accelerate ripening process. Ripe bananas can be refrigerated if you plan to eat the fruit in two or three days’ time. Refrigerated bananas should be brought back to room temperature before consumption.

Spread the word on the nutritional qualities of this wonderful fruit and make a banana a part of your dietary regime.

References:

www.fda.gov

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Divya Arun

Nutritional Health expert | Divya Arun

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