In this era of super fruits like kiwis, blueberries, green apples, the banana has held its own position primarily due to its versatile qualities. Readily available round-the-year, this low-cost fruit that is suitable for any meal is a great adjunct to any diet programme, say, for heart health, weight loss, weight gain or sports. It is among the first semi-solid foods given to infants. Grown in over a 100 countries, it is one of the most widely consumed fruits worldwide.Bananas vary in colour, size and shape. The most common type is the yellow banana, which is green when unripe.
Rich in micronutrients; 1 medium sized (100gm) banana contains:
- Potassium: 9% of RDI (recommended dietary allowance)
- Vitamin B6:33%
- Vitamin C: 11%
- Magnesium: 8%
- Copper: 10%
- Total carbs: 24gm
- Fibre: 1.94 gm
- Protein: 1.3 gm
- Fat: 0.33gm
Each medium banana contains only about 105 calories and consists almost exclusively of water and carbs. It contains very little protein and almost no fat. The carbs in an unripe (green) banana consist mostly of starch and resistant starch, but as it ripens, the starch turns into sugar (glucose, fructose and sucrose).
1. Great for digestion and diarrhoea: For years bananas have been used as an antacid to sooth upset stomachs. They suppress acid secretion by building un-protective barrier in our stomach lining. Protease inhibitors (viral/ bacterial protein blocking enzymes) in bananas aid to eliminate harmful bacteria that have been linked to stomach ulcers.
Pectin (soluble fibre) & resistant starch (insoluble fibre) found in an unripe banana, are two main types of fibre in bananas. While Pectin slows down stomach emptying, resistant starch helps treat diarrhoea (see recipe).
2. Protects heart health: Potassium is a mineral that is essential for a healthy heart,especially blood pressure control. In addition, fibre, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and anti oxidants like dopamine & catechin content in banana also support heart health. High potassium intake is also associated with reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density.
3. Moderation of blood glucose levels: Both Pectin and resistant starch may moderate blood glucose levels after meals and reduce appetite by slowing down stomach emptying. The average glycemic index (measure of how quickly foods increase blood glucose levels) of banana ranges from 51-58. This means banana should not cause major spikes in blood glucose levels in healthy individuals. However,diabetics probably should avoid eating lots of well-ripened bananas.
4.Pre and post-workout meal: Banana is the perfect food for athletes, largely due to its mineral content and easily digestible carbs. The presence of potassium and magnesium helps reduce exercise-related muscle cramps and soreness. Just adding a banana smoothie as a pre-workout meal, gives a great boost of energy (see recipes).
5. Anytime snack: Bananas are easy to add to your diet - as a smoothie with other fruits or nuts, salads, shakes, or simply as an add-on to daily cereals,milk or curd. They rarely contain pesticides or pollutants, due to their thick,protective peel. Banana allergies are quite rare.Incredibly easy to eat and transport, bananas are economical, easily digested and highly nutritious. What more you can ask for!
TRY THESE BANANA RECIPES:
Green banana diet (to curb diarrhoea)-Boil 2 green bananas with skin for 7-10 minutes. Peel, mash and add ½ cup powdered puffed rice (murmura), 1 tsp butter, salt, cumin powder. This mixture can be taken twice daily. Additionally, some cell studies suggest that pectin may help protect against colon cancer.
Banana Cucumber Salad (mid-day meal)-1 medium banana (125gm), 1 medium cucumber,1 tsp dry coconut, 2 green chillies,½ tsp groundnut powder, a few Coriander leaves , squeezed lime juice and Salt.
Mix all ingredients and serve cold.(Calories: 226kcal, carbs: 38.8gm, protein: 3.3gm,fat: 5.49gm, fibre:5.95gm potassium: 521mg)
Almond Banana Shake (pre-workout meal)-3-4 almonds,250 ml milk,1 medium banana (125gm),1 tsp sugar.Blenderize all the ingredients and serve. (Calories: 183 kcal, carbs: 25gm, protein:5.04 gm, fat: 6.47gm, fibre: 1.36gm, potassium: 274mg)
(Nutritional values source: IFCT 2017, NIN,ICMR, India)