Bananas are abundantly available and usually very affordable to get in supermarkets all around the world. While we are familiar with the more common Cavendish, Lady’s Finger and the Indonesian Pisang Raja, you may be surprised to find out that there are actually 500 different varieties of banana plants including the lesser-known Apple and Red Jamaica.
Here’s another fun and interesting fact: Did you know that the banana plant is actually a massive herb that belongs in the family of palms, lilies and orchids?
While bananas are nowhere as gorgeous as their lily and orchid cousins or as glamorous as other so-called superfruits such as blueberries, pomegranates and goji berries, they really do hold their own when it comes to the nutrition department.
In fact, here are six good reasons why bananas should be a staple on your kitchen counter.
Chock Full Of Vitamin B6
This humble plant may not look like much but when it comes to fruit, this yellow friend is actually one of the greatest sources of vitamin B6 you can find. One banana is enough to satisfy 25 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin B6; furthermore, our bodies can also easily absorb the vitamin B6 from bananas.
This essential vitamin does a whole host of things in our body such as helping to turn fat and carbohydrates into energy, producing red blood cells, detoxing the liver and kidneys and supporting the nervous system.
Keep Your Skin Glowing
Bananas are also a boon when it comes to maintaining youthful-looking skin, thanks to a generous amount of manganese (one banana provides about 13 percent of the daily requirement). Manganese is a mineral that assists your body in the production of collagen as well as defending your skin cells against the ravages of free radicals.
Promote Heart Health
When you enjoy one whole banana, you are essentially providing yourself with 10 percent of your daily requirement of potassium. Potassium is important when it comes to keeping your blood pressure low and your cardiovascular system healthy. It helps to keep the heart pumping blood throughout the body and ensures the other muscles and nervous system are doing their job, too. The facts that bananas consist of very little sodium is also a major plus point.
Provide Vitamin C
Bananas give you 10 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C not only protects against cellular and tissue damage, it is also needed to help your body absorb iron. This youth-giving vitamin also assists in collagen production and helps your body generate serotonin, which is great for those who may be struggling with sleep issues or poor moods.
Bananas have a lot of dietary fibre (one banana is 10 percent of your daily needs). It contains both soluble and insoluble fibre. The soluble fibre helps to regulate your blood sugar level and is good for your cholesterol.
The insoluble fibre helps to regulate your bowel movements, prevent constipation and heartburn and promotes gut health getting rid of bad bacteria. A newly ripened bananas versus a really ripe one takes a longer time to pass through your intestinal tract, which helps you feel full for longer and can help support your weight-loss goals.
Give You Energy
Bananas have three types of natural sugars (fructose, glucose and sucrose) which provide the body with a fountain of cholesterol and fat-free energy.
There is a reason why you often see athletes wolfing down a banana midway through a very vigorous competition. Likewise, if you and/or your kids need a quick source of fuel during the day or before (or after) a sporting activity, remember to pack a banana or two.
When Are Bananas Best Consumed?
There is a lot of information on the internet about when is the best time to eat a banana during its growth process. To help you decide when is the best time for you, it boils down to the banana’s flavour, texture and nutritional profile alter as the plant ripens. So the answer really depends on what you are after in consuming it.
A banana that is just ripe will be less sweet and firmer in texture than one that is very well-ripened. In the just-ripe banana, the starch has not yet completely broken down into sugars and one of the major positives about eating them at this stage is that they can help to sustain you for a longer period of time.
Meanwhile, a banana that is very ripe—you can tell by the dark patches that have formed on the skin—is digested more easily and can provide a quick energy boost when you are about to embark on something strenuous, such as a game of tennis or a long run.
When it comes to cooking and baking, however, definitely go for a well-ripened banana because of its softened texture and stronger, sweeter flavours. Hmm… now I am somehow in the mood for banana bread!