A very popular snack, bananas are the second leading fruit crop in the world! While there are hundreds of varieties of bananas—ranging in color from yellow to red to pink to black—the two most popular are the sweet yellow banana and the green plantain banana. Sweet yellow bananas are typically eaten raw, while plantain bananas are commonly prepared like a vegetable and cooked, but all bananas come in a elliptical shape and have a soft fruit covered by a peel. And even though it looks like bananas grow on trees, they actually grow on a plant that can reach anywhere from 10 to 26 feet high. Bananas grow on these plants in “hands” of 10–25 bananas, with a total of about 50–150 bananas per plant.
Bananas are very nutrient dense and they are a particularly good source of potassium; a medium sized banana has about 440mg of potassium and only 1mg of sodium. This is important because potassium is one of the most essential electrolytes in the body, helping to regulate the functioning of the heart and maintain a healthy fluid balance, a central part of having and maintaining a normal blood pressure. Scientists have proven that potassium-rich foods like bananas are very effective for lowering high blood pressure as well as decreasing the chance of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. Even people with really high blood pressure can benefit from frequent consumption of bananas, and doing so can help to reduce or eliminate the need for blood pressure medication.
Not only do bananas help maintain healthy blood pressure, they also prevent plaque from sticking to the walls of arteries by keeping the bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from oxidizing. Oxidized cholesterol is much more likely to be sticky and accumulate. For this reason, bananas are a good food for helping to prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which also contributes to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
Bananas are also very good at calming the gastrointestinal tract because bananas are high in pectin, a soluble fiber that helps regulate bowel functioning. This pectin also helps lower cholesterol levels, another way bananas make a great 'heart-health' food.
Plantain bananas seem to be helpful in treating peptic ulcers. Scientists believe bananas protect the stomach by killing the harmful ulcer-causing bacteria with protease inhibitors before they can do any damage. Bananas also stimulate mucus production in the stomach, which helps to protect the lining of the stomach from the acids that burn it. More study is needed on the topic, but researchers are also beginning to find a link between heartburn and indigestion and banana consumption. While they aren't exactly sure why yet, researchers believe that bananas may soon be replacing antacids used for treating heartburn and indigestion as bananas seem to be a natural antacid.Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, riboflavin, magnesium, biotin, vitamins B6 and C, carbohydrates, and fiber. Bananas contain less water than do most fruits, therefore bananas tend to have more calories and higher sugar content. Because bananas are so high in the important electrolyte potassium as well as carbohydrates and simple sugars, they make a great food for athletes, helping to replenish lost electrolytes and maintain carbohydrates to be burned for energy. Fresh, sweet yellow bananas are best when they are yellow without any green showing and have some brown spots. Sweet bananas and plantains with green tips aren't ripe just yet, but they will continue to ripen if they are left at room temperature. Bananas can be kept in the fridge—their skins will turn brown, but the fruit itself will remain fresh. Bananas that are too soft, discolored, bruised, or deteriorated should not be used. Bananas can also be kept for weeks in the freezer.
Raw Banana Bread Breakfast Barsrnmakes (12) 1×2 bars
- 3 bananas, dried (about 1 cup, packed)
- 1 1/2 cups pecans
- 4 large madjool dates, pitted
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup pecans
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