The good old banana that you see often piled up in a hawker’s laari is more than a commonly available fruit. It is in fact, an extremely nutritious diet that contains water, energy, protein, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorous, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, as well as ascorbic acid. An average Indian consumes around 28 pounds of the fruit every year and almost 96 percent of households in the country purchase bananas every month.
Being part of the lily family and a cousin of the orchid, this fruit (Harvested throughout the year) is a good source of vitamin C, Potassium and dietary fiber. Contrary to popular myth it does not have fat. Cholesterol or sodium. That is the reason why these are great for athletes and fitness freaks. They replenished necessary carbohydrates, glycogen and body fluids burnt during exercises.
Bananas also contain a rich supply of vitamin B6 and helps in the metabolism of proteins, formation of red blood cells and functioning of the central nervous system. The vitamin C in the bananas is valuable in the absorption of iron, synthesis of connective tissue and blood formation. Potassium from bananas helps your body to heal and defend against infections along with helping in building of muscle as it stimulates impulses for muscle contraction.
Research suggests that a diet high in potassium may reduce a risk of hypertension and stroke. Since bananas are sodium free and rich in potassium, they can be eaten as part of the diet which reduces high blood pressure.
Apart from being a healthy food for adults, bananas have proved to be a good diet for infants too. Some babies are ready to begin their transition into solid food in about four months. Because bananas are easily digestible, mild flavoured and smooth textured, it is one of the first solid food item that is fed to infants. Mashed or pureed bananas make an ideal start for a baby’s diet. Ripe bananas contain readily digestible sugar which are converted from starches during the banana’s ripening process. A school child’s breakfast should also include bananas as it helps to sustain nourishment till the next meal. For senior citizens bananas are ideal as they meet the nutritional challenges posed due to ageing.
For treatment of hypertension, experts around the world have suggested an increase in the potassium intake. And potassium from dietary sources should be encouraged more than administering potassium in a pill. An average banana contains 475 milligrams of potassium providing almost 24 pre cent of the current recommended intake and 16 per cent of the proposed recommendation of 3000 milligrams. Remember however that are popular myths about banana like – they give rise to cold, cause diarrhea and obesity.
So, go ahead and choose the banana varieties you can find around you, be it in the “Narendra pazham” and the red skinned bananas from South India the Cavendish varieties like Elaichi and srimati from the west or the small sized ones.
Fact about Bananas
Green – unripe bananas are used in soups, stews and curries
Yellow with green tips – Used for broiling, baking and frying
Full yellow – Ripe or eaten in waffles, puddings, cakes, milkshakes or pies
Yellow with brown freckles – Full ripe, raw or in salad, fruit salad or dishes calling for uncooked fruit.
All brown and over ripe if flesh is firm, still in prime eating condition. Blackened areas – bruised fruit and should be avoided/Raw
unripened fruit – can be irritating to your digestive system.