A Look At How Bananas Benefit Your Diet

This ubiquitous fruit that has its origins in ancient India, is not just a reservoir of taste it is also a store of several nutritional benefits that make it an essential part of ideal diet. Its single greatest advantage is the high fibre content, which is one of the major scarcities of modern non-vegetarian meals that have come to become a norm in the modern world.
A Look at How Bananas Benefit Your Diet
Source - Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACavendish_banana_from_Maracaibo.jpg)

Banana is one of the most popular fruits that we eat, and one of the most nutritious as well. It is known to human beings since a very long time, and is consumed around the globe. Perhaps, it is time to consume some of the facts and tales related with its origin and history now. Let us have a look.


You may feel amused if I tell you that one of the greatest rewards for all the travails of Alexander the great and his army, was banana, the multipurpose fruit and herb that he discovered in India and brought home a

few hundred years before Christ.

Origin & History

Believed to have originated somewhere in South India or Malaysia, banana was part of the sacred food, 'Panchamritham', offered to please gods in India. While its plantations gradually spread in Africa and Caribbean during the next millennium, Americans first tasted it as late as 1876 A.D. when it was sold in Pennsylvania in tin foils for 10 cents each during the centenary celebrations of Declaration of Independence. Popularity of the fruit soon led to inclusion of instructions on eating banana in the 'Domestic cyclopedia of practical information.'

Varieties of Banana

There are over 300 varieties of banana, of which only 25 are in commercial use. It owes its name to some earlier smaller and thinner varieties, which were called 'BANAN' meaning finger in Arabian. The fruit is a reservoir of many essential nutrients, including three types of sugars that provide 140 instant calories, making it one of the favorites of all athletes. It contains 2 gm of protein and many essential vitamins like Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, vitamin B6, Folic Acid and vitamin C. However, its most important nutrients are fiber about 4 gm of which is present in each 9" banana, potassium which is abundant at around 600 mg, and 'tryptophan', an amino acid converted in the body to 'serotonin', a neuro transmitter which helps in elevating mood and relieving from depression. It also has calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.

Uses of Raw & Ripe Banana

Ripe bananas provide instant calories, and hence are the most preferred natural food for providing relief from exertion after strenuous exercise. However, almost 80% bananas are consumed as raw green fruit, the 'plantain' which is a regular part of the

diet in most tropical culinary traditions. The plantain has to be kept for a few days (outside the freezer) to let it ripen naturally. Once ripe it can be peeled, sliced and stored in a plastic bag in the freezer for future use after defrosting.

Nutritional Contents of Banana & Its Medicinal Qualities

Banana is as much of a herb as it is a fruit. Its high potassium, low sodium content has been recognized even by the US Food and Drug Administration, which has now allowed banana industry to officially claim the benefits of including banana in diets for managing high blood pressure. The most important use of banana as a herb is largely due to its fiber content. Because of this high fiber content and calories, it has a unique advantage of being an ideal food both in constipation and in diarrhea, as fibers that absorb water provide relief in both conditions. It is also an excellent home remedy for preventing as well as relieving hangovers. One banana with sixteen ounces of water taken before going to bed significantly reduces the intensity of a hang-over, while a banana shake laced with honey reduces it in the morning when you get up.

Tryptophan in banana provides a 'feel good' factor in depressed states. Yet for those craving for high calories food to ward off depression, it is a far better alternative than chips and other fast food, because the tryptophan in it controls the urge to eat, and the large volume of the fiber rich fruit prevents the person from eating too much. The uniqueness of the nutritional benefits of this fruit lie in its ability to be an asset in extremely opposite conditions. As in case of constipation and diarrhea, it is also a perfectly balanced natural food to fight both weight loss induced by starvation, as in 'anorexia nervosa' as well as weight gain induced by depression eating binges.

With so many qualities and uses, wasn't it worth the travails of Alexander and his army ?

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