Ripe bananasBanana: Musa paradisiaca

Bananas are one of my favourite foods. The bio-available fructose, sucrose and glucose content make them a favourite with athletes. Banana purée is a popular food for infants. On its own a banana is a satisfying snack and easily combines with other fruits and foods, raw, frozen or cooked. They are a cooling food which makes them effective in settling an upset stomach. They are a good source of fibre , minerals and vitamins. With the exception of strawberries, bananas are richer in minerals than any other soft fruit and have almost as much pectin fibre as apples.³

As a rich source of potassium, bananas help to regulate blood pressure and benefits the kidneys and bones by preventing calcium excretion in the urine. The potassium content also helps to lower stress and hypoglycaemia by reducing the damaging LDL cholesterol and increasing the beneficial HDL cholesterol in the blood.

Most people eat 3-4 a week

Bananas are referred to as a ‘feel good food’ due to their content of bio-available tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to an amino acid called L-tryptophan which the brain uses to build relaxing neurotransmitters, serotonin and melatonin. These feel good hormones  affects the movement of the gut, appetite, learning and memory and sleep.¹

Bananas contain: 25% vitamin B6, 14% vitamin C, 16% manganese, 12% potassium, 12% fibre, 10% copper and 10% biotin. ²

Ripe and ready

Bananas signal their ripeness by turning brown, a clear unambiguous sign of maturity. Unripe bananas can cause indigestion, never eat if any part of the banana is still green, best to wait until some brown spots appear. Fruit when eaten ripe is alkaline but can be acidic if eaten unripe. If you want to hasten the ripening process put them in a brown paper bag, preferably with a piece of already ripened fruit and leave in a dark cupboard for 4–5 days or until ripe. Why add a piece of ripened fruit? In their fantastic book:  The Secret Life of Plants, by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, we are told that fruit give off a smell when ripe that signals other fruit to begin ripening.

A popular hangover cure is a banana smoothie with honey, the banana to settle the tummy, and along with the honey helps to replace depleted blood sugar.  Rub the inside of a banana skin to soothe sunburn or insect bites. Or apply daily to reduce the appearance of  liver/age spots on the skin.

Ripe bananas taste sweet, add a creamy texture to smoothies and are rich and satisfying however you enjoy them.

If you are wanting sweet deserts bananas offer many possibilities:

  • Combine with carob powder and dates and freeze for an iced treat.
  • Whip ripe bananas with coconut cream, add cinnamon or carob or whatever spice you like, combine with ground walnuts, transfer to glass bowl and leave aside to set, serve with drizzles of honey.
  • Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to increase the feel-good factor.
  • Really over-ripe bananas make a great face-pack, combine with honey and apply liberally. Leave on for 30 minutes before washing off. Your skin will feel and look wonderfully nourished.

“Banana is not really a tree but the largest herb known – a perennial with a ‘trunk’ of overlapping and semi-rigid coarse leaves. It is the most productive herb too, with 10 – 20 bananas per hand, up to 15 hands per bunch, and several bunches per plant per year.” ³

Related posts: Banana Crumble

Breakfast Smoothie

(1) 10 Surprising benefits of bananas. Available at: healthambition.com

(2) Bananas. Available at: whfoods.org

(3) Bruton-Seal J., Seal M. Kitchen Medicine. Merlin Unwin Books Ltd. UK 2010. p. 16.

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