Banana

Although we are all used to calling bananas fruits, but from a botanical point of view, they belong to berries. Another surprising fact about these fruits: researcher Dan Koppel suggests that the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden that Eve offered to Adam was not an apple, but a banana. And the interesting facts about these yellow exotics do not end there.

Where did bananas come from

The first bananas, as scientists believe, originated about 10 thousand years ago. And if so, then they claim to be called the world's first fruits that have survived to this day. It is known that the first banana trees grew in New Guinea, the Philippines and Indonesia. Over time, merchants brought these plants to India, Africa, and Polynesia. The first written memories of this berry were found among Buddhists and date back to about 600 BC. e. And when in 327 BC. e. the army of Alexander the Great invaded India, the first thing they discovered was the banana valleys. This is how the Western world learned about these yellow exotics. And by 200 BC. e. bananas reached China, where they “populated” the southern regions of the country. However, here the fruits were not very popular and until the twentieth century were considered strange and alien fruits.

Modern bananas, which can be bought on the market throughout the year, are very different from their wild ancestors, which had many hard seeds and not very tasty pulp. Bananas in the form known to us appeared around 650 BC. e. in Africa, as a result of crossing two wild varieties - this is how seedless and larger fruits were formed. Today, bananas are grown in at least 110 countries around the world and are one of the most sought after fruits. Americans alone eat significantly more bananas each year than apples and oranges combined.

What does the name mean

Historians suggest that bananas got their name, so to speak, with the light hand of Arab traders. In those distant times in Southeast Asia, banana fruits were very small by modern standards - no larger than an adult's finger.

Hence the strange name - "banana", which in Arabic means "fingertip".

According to another theory, the authorship of this name belongs to one of the peoples who inhabited West Africa.

General characteristics

Bananas are exotic fruits of elliptical shape with creamy flesh covered with a dense inedible peel. Banana tree can grow from 3 to 6 m in height. Fruits are formed in groups of 50-150 pieces, which are combined into clusters of 10-25 pieces.

Today, biologists know many varieties of bananas, but the most popular is Cavendish. It is this variety that most often appears on our shelves. And he got his strange name in honor of the Englishman William Spencer Cavendish, who actually brought this variety from the Mascarene Islands around 1826 and began to actively grow fruit in greenhouses.

In addition, all currently known edible varieties of bananas are divided into two groups: dessert and vegetable (plantains). Representatives of the first variety may differ in taste, color and size. They come in red, pink, purple and even black skins. Vegetable varieties are valued for their high concentration of beta-carotene.

Health benefits

Bananas are equally beneficial for both adults and babies. And all thanks to the rich mineral and vitamin composition.

Cardiovascular

The first reason why bananas are good for the cardiovascular system is their rich potassium content. This mineral is responsible for the normalization of blood pressure and the proper functioning of the heart. The effectiveness of this theory was confirmed by American scientists. Over the course of eight years, they followed more than 43,000 men whose diets contained potassium, magnesium, and several other nutrients. It turned out that in almost all participants in the experiment, the risk of developing a stroke decreased, and pressure also stabilized.

The second reason why bananas are a healthy food for the cardiovascular system is the high concentration of sterols. In structure, these substances resemble cholesterol and are able to block the body's absorption of this fat-like substance from food. As a result, we can say that bananas prevent the development of atherosclerosis.

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The third reason is that bananas are a great source of fiber. One medium fruit contains approximately 3 g of fiber, 1 g of which is soluble dietary fiber. And they, as scientific experience shows, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Digestive system

Bananas are amazing fruits in terms of carbohydrate and sugar content. Although these yellow exotics are quite sweet, they are low glycemic foods.

As mentioned earlier, one medium banana contains approximately 3 g of dietary fiber. They are needed to regulate the digestive process, as well as to break down carbohydrates into simple sugars. In addition, fruits contain pectin, a unique and more complex type of fiber. Some of the pectins are water soluble. As bananas ripen, the number of water-soluble pectins increases, which, in fact, is one of the reasons why more mature fruits are very soft. As the concentration of water-soluble pectins increases, so does the proportion of fructose (compared to other sugars). The essence of this proportional relationship between fructose and pectins explains the secret of easy digestion of this fruit.

Another important component of bananas is fructooligosaccharides - a unique type of fructose, which, as a rule, is not broken down by enzymes, but only in the lower intestine under the influence of beneficial bacteria, which helps to maintain the balance of the latter.The results of the study showed that if you eat two bananas daily for several months, then the number of beneficial bifidobacteria increases. As a result, the incidence of gastrointestinal problems is reduced.

Benefits for Athletes

The unique combination of vitamins, minerals and low glycemic carbohydrates makes bananas a favorite fruit for athletes. Eaten before exercise, they increase physical endurance. A study with cyclists showed that a banana (meaning half a fruit for every 15 minutes of riding) keeps energy levels at the same level. In addition, athletes use these fruits as a remedy for muscle spasms. Studies have shown that eating 1-2 bananas an hour before a workout helps to maintain the level of potassium in the blood after exercise, namely the lack of this mineral causes muscle pain.

Nutritional value

These yellow fruits are a good source of vitamin B6, ascorbic acid, manganese, potassium, copper, biotin, fiber.

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Nutritional value per 100 g
Calories 96 kcal
Proteins 1.5 g
Fats 0.5 g
Carbs 21g
Vitamin B1 0.04 mg
Vitamin B2 0.05 mg
Vitamin B3 0.9 mg
Vitamin B5 0.25 mg
Vitamin B6 0.38 mg
Biotin 4 mcg
Folic acid 10 mcg
Vitamin C 10 mg
Vitamin A 20 mcg
Vitamin E 0.4 mg
Vitamin K 0.5 µg
Boron 372 µg
Calcium 8 mg
Chlorine 47 mg
Chromium 0.17 mcg
Copper 78 mcg
Iodine 0.05 mcg
Iron 0.6 mg
Magnesium 42 mg
Manganese 0.27 mg
Phosphorus 28 mg
Potassium 348 mg
Selenium 1 mcg
Sodium 31 mg
Zinc 0.15 mg

Who benefits from bananas

Chemical composition of these fruits determines their useful properties. In particular, you can outline the circle of people who especially need bananas. These are individuals diagnosed with one of the following conditions:

  • high blood pressure;
  • asthma;
  • oncology (bananas prevent the development of leukemia in children, as well as the occurrence of colorectal cancer);
  • cardiovascular disease;
  • diabetes mellitus (green bananas increase insulin sensitivity);
  • diarrhea and other digestive disorders;
  • absent-mindedness and memory impairment;
  • obesity.

In addition, bananas are beneficial in preventing kidney cancer, protect the eyes from macular degeneration, and strengthen bones by improving calcium absorption. These fruits are useful for children, as they increase the ability to learn. The high content of antioxidants in yellow exotics helps protect against free radicals. Many pregnant women are saved from early toxicosis with the help of bananas. The same fruits will help bring down the temperature during fever.

Fruits are also useful for people who quit smoking, as they supply the necessary B vitamins, potassium and magnesium, which accelerate the process of cleansing and restoring the body.

Other Benefits

Banana peels can be used to soothe the itching at the site of an insect bite. The same part of the fruit will help get rid of warts. To do this, glue a piece of peel to the growth. And if you rub leather shoes or a bag with banana peel, and then polish it with a soft cloth, then the thing will sparkle like new.

Potential Hazards

The fruit, eaten in moderation, does not cause any significant side effects. However, overindulgence in exotic fruits (more than five bananas a day) can cause headaches and drowsiness. This is especially true for overripe bananas. In rare cases, they can provoke hyperkalemia - an increased concentration of potassium in the blood. Too frequent use of sweet fruits does not have the best effect on the teeth - it leads to the destruction of enamel.

Bananas can cause one of the types of food allergies - the so-called latex-fruit syndrome. This disease is the result of an immune system reaction to proteins found in natural rubber and certain substances found in bananas. By the way, kiwi, papayas, tomatoes, potatoes and avocados can also cause this type of allergy.

How to select and store properly

fruits with a greenish tint. For this reason, fruits should be chosen according to when you plan to consume them. Unripe fruits will take a few more days to fully ripen. The yellower the fruit, the shorter its shelf life. Proper bananas should be firm, but not too hard. In any case, the color should be bright, the skin should be smooth, without damage. The size of the fruit does not affect its taste.

Although bananas seem very durable at first glance, they are actually fragile fruits that require special handling during storage. Greenish fruits should ripen at room temperature. In addition, do not succumb to their influence of low temperatures. Many people like to store fruits in the refrigerator, but this is wrong. Bananas are quite thermophilic. And if the unripe fruit is sent to the refrigerator, and then returned to room temperature, the ripening process will not resume. The only case when it is justified to keep bananas in the refrigerator is to prevent rotting of overripe fruits. And although their skin will still turn black, the flesh will remain dense and edible.

Some people prefer to freeze bananas. In this case, it is important to refrigerate only peeled fruits wrapped in plastic wrap or crushed to a puree state. To prevent discoloration after defrosting, before sending the pulp to the freezer, it is important to add a little lemon juice to it.

But you can speed up the process of fruit ripening if you put them in a paper bag or wrap them in newspaper. But at the same time, it is necessary to “attach” a neighbor to the bananas - an apple or a tomato. By the way, ripe fruits are richer sources of antioxidants than unripe ones.

What to do with the peel

Banana peel is not usually eaten, but this does not mean that it is poisonous. On the contrary, it contains vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, a lot of fiber and protein. However, at the same time, it is in the banana skin that all the pesticides that the plant was treated with are collected. But if you are confident in the environmental friendliness of the fruit, banana peels are usually used to make jam. In addition, it can be fried, stewed or boiled.

Bananas in cosmetics

These fruits have many benefits that make them good for skin and hair. Banana pulp can replace many expensive cosmetics. Here are a few cosmetic uses for these exotics:

  1. With their antibacterial properties, bananas can help get rid of acne and blemishes on the face (a banana mask will do, milk, pinches of nutmeg, oatmeal).
  2. Banana puree applied to the face for 20 minutes will help restore radiance and a healthy pink color to the skin.
  3. If the pulp is crushed and mixed with granulated sugar, and then applied to the hands, the roughness can be removed and the skin on the palms softened. This scrub is also suitable for the face.
  4. A banana and yogurt mask will help prevent hair loss and restore shine.
  5. These yellow fruits will also help get rid of dandruff. It is enough to mix 2 bananas with 2 tablespoons of honey and rub this mixture into the scalp. It also helps restore shine to dry and damaged hair.

Bananas are one of the most consumed fruits on the planet. Perhaps, all over the world this fruit is known as an extremely rich source of potassium. Although in fact it contains many other, no less useful components in high concentration.

Sources
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  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information. – Dietary Fiber Is Beneficial for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses.
  7. PubMed. – Effect of banana consumption on faecal microbiota: a randomised, controlled trial.
  8. ResearchGate. – Bananas as an Energy Source during Exercise: A Metabolomics Approach.
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