A banana is a fruit, which is botanically considered a berry. Bananas range in size, color, and firmness. They can be green, red, purple, brown or, of course, yellow (which we are accustomed to).
Bananas grow in a cluster that hangs from the top of the plant. A banana plant will grow 10 to 26 feet high. There can be anywhere from 50 to 150 bananas growing in a cluster, known as “hands,” on a single plant.
The banana belongs to the Musaceae family of plants along with plantains. Plantains are one of the less sweet varieties of banana. Plantains are a form of banana that is usually eaten, occasionally along with their leaves, only after they have been cooked with the peel, unlike the desert bananas we are used to.
Plantains are usually considered more of a vegetable than a fruit due to their starchier qualities. They have a concentration that is higher in beta-carotene than most sweet bananas, which we are more accustomed to doing.
Bananas are believed to have originated in Malaysia around 4,000 years ago. They then spread throughout the Philippines and India from there. Around 327 B.C. they were recorded as being grown by the army under Alexander The Great.
Bananas were introduced to Africa by Arabian traders and were discovered in Africa by Portuguese explorers in 1482 A.D. who then took them to the Americas. Ever since the most bananas in the world have been grown in the Americas.
Bananas became more widely available in the 20th century, ever since the development rapid refrigerated transportation. Today, bananas are being grown in the most tropical regions including Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador, and Brazil.
Banana Health Benefits
No wonder monkeys are so healthy; bananas are chock full of:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
Bananas can help with several serious health concerns including:
High Blood Pressure – Since bananas are high in potassium they can help maintain lower blood pressure levels. A high potassium intake will result in a 20% decrease in the risk of dying of high blood pressure related disease.
Asthma – A study conducted by the Imperial College of London has proven that children who ate one banana a day have a 34% reduction in the chance they develop asthma as they get older.
Cancer – Studies have shown that children who have eaten bananas during the first two years of their lives have reduced their risk of developing childhood leukemia. Since it is an excellent source of vitamin C, bananas can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer.
Digestive Health – A medium-size banana contains roughly 3 grams of fiber which helps to regulate the speed of digestion. Also, by keeping digestion well regulated, the conversion of carbohydrates to simple sugars and the release of simple sugars from digesting food your ability to digest food is kept running smoothly properly.
Athletic Performance – Bananas contain a unique mix of vitamins, minerals, and low glycemic carbohydrates, making them a preferred fruit for endurance athletes. A study conducted in 2012 on distance cyclists found that eating the equivalent of one half a banana every 15 minutes of a three-hour race was just as good at keeping energy levels steady as drinking an equal amount of carbohydrate and minerals from a processed sports drink.
Interesting facts about bananas
- The scientific name for the banana is Musa sapientum, which means “fruit of the wise men.”
- Some cultures (mostly Japan) use the fiber in the banana plant to make fabric and sometimes even paper.
- Rubbing the inside of a banana peel on a mosquito bite (or any bug bite) or poison ivy will help keep it from itching and getting inflamed.
- For a natural teeth whitener, rub the inside of a banana peel on your teeth for about two minutes every night. Gargling with salt water will increase the effect. You can expect to see results within two weeks.
- Use the inside of a banana peel to clean and polish leather shoes, as well as your good silver objects.
- More than 100 billion bananas are eaten worldwide every year, making them the fourth most popular agricultural product in the world.
- Americans eat an average of 27 pounds of bananas per person every year.
- More than 96 percent of American households buy bananas at least once a month.
- Residents of Uganda eat an average of 500 pounds of bananas per person every year. This is the highest per capita consumption in the world.
Other Uses For Bananas
Everyone knows how great banana split tastes, and of course, there’s banana nut bread, banana pancakes, and they are even excellent just by themselves. However, there several other uses for these delicious smiling fruits. Some of these uses include:
Banana Meat Tenderizer
Especially in Chinese and Asian cuisines, meat wrapped in banana leaves while cooking ensures your meat remains as tender as possible.
Banana Body Scrub
Bananas make an excellent exfoliating body scrub with only a few other household ingredients added. The easy to prepare recipe includes:
- 1 Ripe banana
- 3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar (white or brown)
- 1/4 Teaspoon of your favorite essential oil
- Mix all of the ingredients and scrub the ole body with it!
When beta-blockers are prescribed for heart disease, they increase potassium levels in the blood. Since bananas also contain potassium they can cause a health concern because too much potassium can be harmful to those kidneys are not functioning fully. If your kidneys are not able to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal.
Another health concern with bananas is the latex-fruit syndrome. Latex-fruit syndrome is a health problem that’s related to the possible reaction of our immune system to certain proteins found in natural rubber and similar proteins found in certain foods, such as bananas.
Bananas are packed with several vitamins and minerals that provide many health benefits while tasting great. Besides tasting great, this little tropical delight also offers so much more. Have some today!
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