My daughter used to eat so many bananas I thought she might be part monkey. Of course, the big ears and tail didn’t help, either. I was heartened to learn her banana habit is a good thing. The tropical fruit is not only an ideal finger food for kids but tremendously beneficial for us grownups, too.
Maybe that’s why the average American eats over 28 pounds each year, according to Supermarket Guru. It’s the fourth most important staple food in the developing world, including Malaysia (where the banana originated and is now facing a terrible fungus blight). The Panama Disease has spread to Australia and could even end up here one day, so get those Cavendish varieties while you can.
Bananas contain vitamin B6, Vitamin C, magnesium and potassium, and are a great source of fiber in the diet. The potassium bananas are famous for is an essential electrolyte that helps to regulate blood pressure and keeps those muscles contracting properly during a work out. That’s why the fruit is an ideal breakfast food prior to going for a run or heading to the gym. The natural sugars are easily digested and give instant energy.
And if you combine that banana with organic milk, you have created almost a complete balanced diet – not to mention one that can help you lose weight, or so says How Stuff Works. The banana contains a high-grade protein (including three essential amino acids) and the fruit and milk supplement each other to provide all the nutrients the body needs.
The banana can even be a mood enhancer!
What is the best way to buy bananas? Well, they should be "green", of course, so buy organic or fair trade bananas only. Non-organic bananas can contain artificial chemicals that aid ripening. Go for the green in the literal sense, as well. Bananas ripen rapidly and my kids snub the ones with brown spots and bruises. Chilling them in the fridge only makes them browner. The best way to store them is to keep them at room temperature, perhaps hanging them on a hook out of the sunlight.
There are bunches of ways to add bananas to your diet. You can ape my little primate and simply peel and eat, or you can add a banana to fruit salad, blend it in a smoothie, top it on a cup of frozen yogurt or slice one in a sandwhich. You will find countless ideas at Banana Recipes.
Image: ian ransley
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