Bananas come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. When they ripen, they may be yellow, red or purple in color. There are more than 500 varieties of banana throughout the world. A cluster of bananas is referred to as 'a hand'. Each cluster contains 10-20 bananas, called 'fingers'. In Arabic, the word 'banan' means 'a finger'. Banana is one of such fruit that ripens best, when plucked off from the plant. When it ripens, the starch present in banana converts to sugar and hence, it tastes very sweet.
Banana nutrition facts reveal that it contains abundant amounts of proteins, carbohydrates and fibers. It consists of sugars like glucose, lactose, maltose, galactose, sucrose, fructose and starch. Banana is also rich in vitamins like vitamin A, C and E, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, folic acid, vitamin B12 and minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc and fluoride. There are also essential amino acids like tryptophan, lysine, leucine, threonine, arginine, glycine etc. present in bananas. A medium-sized banana has about 100 calories, while a large one contains about 125 calories. Banana is a healthy and energy-rich snack.
Banana is a natural remedy for a number of ailments. Due to its high sugar content, banana is considered as a rich source of energy. With its heavy load of essential nutrients, it is known to offer a number of health benefits.
- Since bananas are rich in fibers, they help improve digestive health and restore normal bowel function. Bananas are useful in relieving constipation. In diarrhea, there is loss of important electrolytes from the body. Eating bananas helps restore electrolytes, as they contain high amounts of potassium. Bananas are an excellent source of fructooligosaccharide that nurtures probiotic bacteria present in the colon. Enzymes produced by these bacteria improve digestive function and also prevent infections.
- Indigestible short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) present in green bananas nourishes the cells in the stomach mucosa. These cells are helpful in absorbing calcium more efficiently, which is essential for healthy bones.
- Tryptophan amino acid in bananas is converted to serotonin (a brain chemical), which helps reduce depression and improve mood. Banana is a good remedy for stress relief.
- Daily consumption of bananas reduces the risk of macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of vision loss in the elderly.
- Due to high content of potassium and low content of sodium, bananas minimize the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
- Since bananas are rich in antioxidant phenolic compounds, regular consumption of bananas reduces the risk of kidney cancer.
- Because of their high iron content, bananas help increase the hemoglobin content in the blood and relieve anemia.
- Bananas provide a natural antacid effect. They help to get rid of the symptoms of heartburn and provide a soothing effect.