Bananas – Nutritional Information and Healthy Facts

A medium sized banana contains around 105 calories. The average banana offers a portable snack that can be eaten on the go. This is ideal for athletes. Bananas are very versatile. They can used in smoothies, added to wholemeal toast and added also to yoghurts. Bananas can even be used in muffins.

Bananas are a rich source of carbohydrates. The carbohydrate content of bananas changes a lot during ripening. The main carbohydrate component of unripe bananas is starch. On a dry weight basis, green bananas contain up to 70 to 80 percent starch. The starch in bananas is converted into sugars during ripening. The most common types of sugar found in ripening bananas include sucrose, fructose and glucose.

A large proportion of starch found in unripe bananas is resistant starch. This resistant starch is resistant to digestion and is therefore a type of fibre. Bananas are also a good source of pectin which is another type of fibre. Some of the pectin in bananas is water soluble. Both pectin and resistant starch moderate the blood sugar rise after a meal. Bananas therefore have a low glycaemic index. Glycaemic index is a measure of the impact of food on our blood sugar.

Bananas are a very good source of vitamin B6. Bananas are also a good source of manganese, vitamin C, potassium, biotin and copper.  One medium sized banana can provide up to one third of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B6. Potassium is an essential mineral for the maintenance of normal blood pressure and heart function. The inclusion of bananas in your diet protect against atherosclerosis and help in the prevention of high blood pressure. Eating two bananas per day has been proven to lower blood pressure by ten percent.

Bananas contains small amounts of sterols i.e. sitosterol, campesterol, stigmastoral. These sterols block the absorption of dietary cholesterol and therefore help in keeping our blood cholesterol levels in check.

Bananas can help to relieve gastrointestinal illnesses. Bananas are part of the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice Applesauce and Dry Toast). These are foods that assist in relieving diarrhoea and upset stomach. Bananas are easy to digest and non irritating to the gastrointestinal tract.

Bananas should be firm but not too hard. Bananas should have their stems and tips intact. Bananas are actually very fragile. Bananas should be left to ripening at room temperature. Bananas should not be subjected to overly cold or hot temperatures. You should not place unripe bananas in the fridge because this will interrupt the ripening process. Bananas can be frozen for approximately two months. Bananas can be pureed before freezing or placed in a plastic wrap once the peel has been removed.

Tomorrow I will blog about the health benefits of a vegan diet.



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