Jul 312012

Benefits of BananasGo Bananas!

It’s time to give the nutritious banana the respect it deserves.  More bananas are sold than any other fruit in theUnited States, and for good reason.  Bananas are loaded with nutrition—in fact they are one of the few foods that contain five major vitamin groups.

The average America consumes 28 pounds of nutritious bananas every year. Athletes and health enthusiasts drive up banana consumption since they are such a good source of nutrition with generous amounts of vitamins, potassium, and dietary fiber; and they replenish necessary carbohydrates and glycogen.  They are a perfect pre or post workout snack.

Banana Nutrition Facts

One banana has approximately 110 calories, 30 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram of protein, and 3 grams of fiber.  They are cholesterol, fat, and sodium free.

Health Benefits of Bananas

Bananas are a valuable source of vitamins, especially vitamin A, which is essential for healthy skin, hair and eyes. You will also find many of the B vitamins, including vitamin B6, essential for nerve and muscle function, regulating mood and easing depression, and promoting healthy skin and hair. Vitamin C is also found in bananas, used to fight off free radicals that damage cells and arteries. There are also traces of vitamins E and K as well as folate in a banana. Minerals found in a banana include magnesium and calcium, with traces of iron, selenium and phosphorous–all essential in small amounts to build strong bones and teeth, regulate moods and depression and convert food into energy.

All this qualifies bananas as a super food,  providing a long-lasting burst of energy to fuel your busy, active life. Pack a banana wherever you go and you’ll always have a quick, convenient source of nutrition to pick you up and keep you going.

How to select and store Bananas

Choose bananas based on their degree of ripeness.  Bananas are unusual in that they taste best when allowed to ripen off the plant. Bananas are picked when they are still a hard green, and generally are shipped to stores when they are light green with 25-50% yellow. Most people prefer to eat their bananas when they are yellow with green tips or fully yellow.

Much later, and they’re still good for banana bread and shakes, but generally too ripe for individual consumption.

Remove bananas from plastic produce bags as soon as you get them home. Never store bananas in plastic bags, which hold too much moisture and could cause the fruit to rot.

Store green bananas at room temperature.  Put green bananas into a brown paper bag to speed up the ripening process. Add an apple or a tomato to the bag to ripen the bananas in less than 1 day.  Leave yellow-green ripening bananas exposed to air at room temperature for a few days.

You can freeze bananas after ripening with or without peels for smoothies or other uses.  If the peels are on, run under water to begin thawing.

Fun Banana Facts

  • Over 100 billion bananas are consumed annually, making bananas the fourth largest agricultural product in the world, following only wheat, rice, and corn.
  • Bananas don’t grow on trees—they produce an above ground stem and are officially classified as a perennial herb.
  • Those stringy things inside the peel are called phloem (pronounced FLOM).  They contain many important minerals so you should eat them or throw them in your smoothie.
  • The inside of the banana peel is actually a great leather shoe polish!

banana blueberry breadAnd remember when life gives you mushy bananas, make banana bread!

Check out this week’s recipe for a basic low fat banana bread that you can expand on and get the health Benefits of Bananas.

~Get Healthy ~ Stay Healthy

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