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BANANAS! -Nutrition, health benefits of bananas, facts about bananas,

Monday, May 25, 2009
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The ignored banana is however far from ordinary, for it belongs to the exotic orchid family, Musa sapientium.

With its outer bright yellow packing, it appears like one big happy smile giving a feeling of radiant sunshine. This radiance and bringing on a smile factor can be attributed to an amino acid called, Tryptophan, that gets converted to serotonin (a neurotransmitter), which not only makes you feel good but also has a calming effect just like chocolates do.

History states, that Bananas came originally from Malaysia around 4,000 years ago but have thrived and are now available in all countries throughout the year.
Though there are two distinct species: the sweet banana (Musa sapienta, Musa nana) and the plantain banana (Musa paradisiacal); there are over 1000 varieties of bananas which grow in clusters of 50 to 150, available in different colors (red, pink, purple and black) sizes, flavor, texture and taste.             

The Banana as a heart friendly fruit is rich in potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. With around 460 mg of Potassium and only 1 mg of sodium, a banana a day helps to protect against high blood pressure and CVD, especially atherosclerosis.
According to research in "The New England Journal of Medicine, 'eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%! `
Apart from its benefits on CVD the high potassium content also help to promote bone health. It works against the increased urinary calcium loss caused by the high-salt diets from fast and junk foods, typical of to day's diets thus helping to prevent bones from thinning out at a fast rate. Banana also helps to replenish potassium salts lost during bouts of vomiting or diarrhea.

While ripe bananas are known to prevent constipation and in the treatment of peptic ulcers, the green ones are used in the treatment of diarrhea and hemorrhoids. It is also seen to be helpful with infant diarrhea, in celiac disease and in colitis. In the case of psoriasis it is said that when rubbed on the red, scaly patches of skin it gives relief without the side effects.

It is a high energy fruit rich in the three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose, and in starch and dietary fiber: It has moderate amounts of pectin and soluble fiber that prevents the absorption of fats and helps lower blood cholesterol levels.
They also have good amounts of riboflavin, niacin Vitamins A and C, B6, some calcium, iron, and magnesium.

A word of caution: Bananas should not be eaten along with the essential fatty acids because the pectin will interfere with its absorption.

For the last few centuries it is a global fruit, enjoyed worldwide, found on the tables of families, both from the highest-income to the lowest. Its texture is smooth, taste filling, convenient and easy to transport and eat, and costs less to grow.

In fact the pity is that despite its immense benefits it is largely undervalued, for its role in global human nutrition.

Ignored No More!

By. Vijayalakshmi Iyengar, Dietitian,



User Comments

02 September, 2011 | Prathima | Reply

Prathima As the article states this unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect fruit/food to beat blood pressure. The US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

07 July, 2011 | Mahendra | Reply

Mahendra Can you please throw some light on difference in nutritional value of normal (big) banana and Ellakki (small)Banana. I have read somewhere that Ellakki is better for heart and diabetic patients.

11 July, 2011 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Mr Mahendra
Even though there are so many varieties of banana (besides the two you mentioned) their nutritional advantage is more or less the same. The difference between the varieties is mainly in their sugar, starch, and fibre content. They are all good for the heart as they are rich in potassium, having anywhere between 350-450mgs/100gms of fruit.
Diabetics also benefit from the potassium content but as it has a good amount of sugars/carbohydrate, they have to be careful of portion size and need to calculate it in their daily calorie & carbohydrate allowance
Ellaki banana is unique to Karnataka state, and being smaller and sweeter is more popular than the dwarf Cavendish (larger banana that you referred to.)
Thank You
Vijayalakshmi Iyengar
Sr. Dietitian ,

18 October, 2012 | Neha Jain | Reply

Neha Jain Hi,
Can you help me with the source where the exact values for ellaichi banana is given. I am looking this for my research purpose.

18 October, 2012 | Mrinal | Reply

Mrinal Its called Ellaki Banana not elaichi banana...!!! Mrs. Iyengar, our senior dietitian will help out.

15 July, 2010 | Sanjay Shelar | Reply

Sanjay Shelar This is very true and good for everyone but of course not for diabetic patients !
Diabetic patients can only take half banana a day….

16 July, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy Dear Sanjay,

Diabetics should eat less or avoid fruits only if their blood glucose is constantly fluctuating or always high. A person with good control of diabetes can have about 2-3 servings of fruit per day, one of which should be a citrus fruit. One small banana (elaichi) can be had by a person with controlled diabetes in a day.

A diabetic with impaired kidney function, one of the complications of diabetes, should avoid banana as it is high in potassium.

Thank you for your comment.

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy,
Senior Dietitian,

07 June, 2010 | Kanika Jain | Reply

Kanika Jain As rightly mentioned by Vijayalakshmi,banana is an excellent fruit.Not only it is universally available but highly nutritious and economical too.

Kanika Jain

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