The banana needs no introduction, being one of the world's most popular fruits. The plantain, a cooking banana, is also referred to as the meal, vegetable or horse banana. Plantains have lower water content, making them drier and starchier than fruit bananas. In terms of the amount of nutrition for price paid, it is hard to obtain better value in a food.
Bananas are highly recommended by doctors for patients with low potassium levels. One 9-inch banana contains some 600mg of potassium and only 140 calories. It also contains 2gm of protein, 4gm of fiber and only 2mg of sodium. There are 36gm of carbohydrates in a large banana.
Vitamins and minerals are also abundant in the banana, with 123 IU of vitamin A in a large banana and a full range of B vitamins: 0.07mg of Thiamine, 0.15mg of Riboflavin, 0.82mg Niacin, 0.88mg vitamin B6, and 29mcg of Folic Acid. There are 13.8mg of vitamin C, and 9.2mg of Calcium, 44.1mg of Magnesium, and trace amounts of Iron and Zinc.
The banana is among the healthiest of fruits; the plantain variety, when cooked, rates slightly higher on the nutritional scale in terms of vitamins and minerals but is similar to the banana in protein and fiber content.
Depression: According to a survey carried out by the British mental health organization MIND, many people suffering from depression felt much better after eating a banana. Bananas contain tryptophan, a protein that the body converts into serotonin which is known to improve relaxation, mood and overall happiness.
Hypertension: Bananas are extremely high in potassium, yet low in salt. The FDA has even allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
Mental Acuity: Research has shown that bananas can assist learning by making pupils more alert.
Morning Sickness: Snack on bananas between meals to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.
Mosquito Bites: Rub the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it very successful at reducing swelling and irritation.
Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.
Overweight and Stressed at Work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found that pressure at work leads to comfort food cravings such as chocolate and chips. Studying 5,000 hospital patients, researchers concluded that the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs and that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods (such as bananas) every 2 hours.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas contain the natural mood enhancer, tryptophan.
Smoking: Bananas can help people trying to give up smoking, as the high levels of Vitamin C, A1, B6, and B12 that they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, helping normalize the heartbeat, sending oxygen to the brain, and regulating the body's water balance. When stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be replenished with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.
Stroke Risk: 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%.
Temperature Control: Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.
Ulcers: The banana is used against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronic ulcer cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.
Warts: Some people highly recommend banana skin for killing warts. Take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, yellow side up. Hold the banana skin in place with tape.
For sports and other high-energy needs, a banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. Bananas are often eaten by sportsmen and women during competition; a medium-sized banana contains 280 kilojoules of energy, which is more than other fruits.
If you can stomach it, bananas help to replenish many essential salts. One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
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