Bananas are full of nutrition

You think the banana is a boring, commonplace fruit? Think again, because few fruits pack as much nutrition and health benefits as this perennial favourite

BananasThe banana is known to have had its origins in Malaysia; some travellers brought it to India.

If the curvy fruit gets more than a passing reference in Buddhist Pali writings dating back to 6th Century BC, legend has it that Alexander, the Great, tasted this fruit in India during his famous campaign in 320 BC. He is believed to have just loved it. Small wonder why he also introduced this lovable fruit to the world.

Did you know that the banana plant is not a tree? It is actually the world's largest herb!

There are over 300 species of bananas; however, only 20 are commercially cultivated. Also, there are two main varieties of the fruit: the sweet banana [the fruit] and the plantain [the cooking banana].

Health benefits

Constipation. Bananas are rich in fibre. Including them in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, and also overcome the problem of constipation without resorting to the use of laxatives.

Depression. Bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, the feel-good hormone. This is known to aid you to relax, improve your mood and make you feel happy.

Heartburn. Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body. 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 useful for reducing the swelling and irritation.

Hangover. One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. Banana calms the stomach and, with the help of honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels. Milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Post-menstrual-syndrome [PMS]. Vitamin B6 in banana regulates your moody blues - a common symptom of PMS.

Warts. Some naturopaths believe that a banana peel can eradicate a wart. Take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape.

Hypertension. Some doctors in India reckon that eating two bananas a day can reduce blood pressure by 10 per cent - in just a week's time.

Going Bananas with Your Personality

Did you know? Psychologists have identified five personality types based on the way people eat bananas:

  • Nibblers peel the banana slowly, carefully eating only the exposed area - they tend to be cautious, thoughtful and conservative.
  • Munchers peel the banana fully, and take large greedy bites - these people are positive and independent types.
  • Breakers break their bananas into quarters and eat them section-by-section - these folks reveal creativity, sensuality and thoughtfulness.
  • Cutters eat their bananas from plates, cutting the fruit into pieces and eating with a knife, and fork - they tend to be highly organised control freaks.
  • Eccentrics are as always unpredictable. They tend to eat their bananas in different ways: breaking a banana into three parts, for example, or eating from the middle. These people are said to be non-conformist, rebellious and impulsive.

Vital stats

Serving 1 [medium]
Calories 105
Carbohydrates 26 gm
Protein 1 gm
Fat 0.4 gm
Fibre 3.1 gm
Vitamin A 76 IU
Vitamin C 10 mg
Potassium 422 mg
Sodium 1 mg

The nutritional details clearly depict the banana advantage - the healthiest of fruits, having superlative fibre content and potassium levels. The plantain, when cooked, rates slightly higher on the nutritional scale in vitamins and minerals, although it is similar to the banana in protein and fibre content.

Banana Treats

Breakfast Banana Shake

Ingredients: 300 ml skimmed milk, 1 tablespoon honey, 2 ice cubes, 1 medium-sized banana-slice

Blend all the above ingredients at high speed. Pour into a tall glass and sprinkle some cinnamon powder on the top.

This serves as an excellent breakfast, ready in minutes. It also gives you all the necessary nutrients to start your day. Your kids will love it, too. Also, Saturday Night Fever 'victims' claim this to be a good hangover cure.

Banana Loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour [you can also substitute with wheat flour to make it a healthy food — but, for this, you need to add 2 beaten eggs to the wet ingredients]
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder.

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt, in a large bowl.

Mash bananas, and add one tablespoon oil, white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla, in a small bowl. Add beaten eggs to this if you are using wheat flour. You can add your choice of nuts to this mixture too. Walnuts and banana, for instance, make a great combination.

In a separate bowl, mix two tablespoon water, one tablespoon oil, and two teaspoons of baking powder. It gets fizzy and this is the secret to the moist soft loaf. Add mixture to the wet mixture in a small bowl and mix well. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 50-55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a wooden toothpick stuck in the centre comes out clean. Let the bread cool for about 10 minutes.

Serves: 1 loaf

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Serve as a tea snack or a healthy dessert. Also, warm bread can be served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

Another advantage: the next time your bananas get over-ripe, you know what to do!

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