3rd July 2016:
Four years ago we had over 700 banana trees on the farm, producing almost 100,000 bananas, each year.
Sadly a fungus that struck all across middle Africa, wiped out almost all of them.
We are just about clear to plant again, so we will add a few new varieties including plantain for cooking.
Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure, however increasing potassium intake may be just as important because of its vasodilation effects. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, fewer than 2% of US adults meet the daily 4700 mg recommendation.3
Also of note, a high potassium intake is associated with a 20% decreased risk of dying from all causes.3
A study conducted by the Imperial College of London found that children who ate just one banana per day had a 34% less chance of developing asthma.
Consuming bananas, oranges and orange juice in the first two years of life may reduce the risk of developing childhood leukemia. As a good source of vitamin C, bananas can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. High fiber intakes from fruits and vegetables like bananas are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
4) Heart health
The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6 content in bananas all support heart health. An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium intake is the most important dietary change that a person can make to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, according to Mark Houston, MD, MS, an associate clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Medical School and director of the Hypertension Institute at St Thomas Hospital in Tennessee.3
In one study, those who consumed 4069 mg of potassium per day had a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium (about 1000 mg per day).3
High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.3
Studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. One medium banana provides about 3 grams of fiber.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21-25 g/day for women and 30-38 g/day for men.
6) Treating diarrhea
Bland foods such as apple sauce and bananas are recommended for diarrhea treatment. Electrolytes like potassium are lost in large quantities during bouts of diarrhea and may make those affected feel weak. Bananas can help to promote regularity and replenish potassium stores.
7) Preserving memory and boosting mood
Bananas also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that studies suggest plays a role in preserving memory and boosting your mood.
Nutritional profile of bananas
One medium banana (about 126 grams) is considered to be one serving. One serving of banana contains 110 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of protein. Bananas are naturally free of fat, cholesteroland sodium.2
Bananas provide a variety of vitamins and minerals:
Vitamin B6 - .5 mg
Manganese - .3 mg
Vitamin C - 9 mg
Potassium - 450 mg
Dietary Fiber - 3g
Protein - 1 g
Magnesium - 34 mg
Folate - 25.0 mcg
Riboflavin - .1 mg
Niacin - .8 mg
Vitamin A - 81 IU
Iron - .3 mg
The recommended intake of potassium for adults is 4700 milligrams per day.
Incorporating more bananas into your diet
Fresh bananas are available year-round. Unlike other fruits, the ripening process of bananas does not slow down after they are picked. Bananas should be stored at room temperature. The warmer the temperature, the faster bananas will ripen. However, to slow ripening, bananas should be refrigerated. The outer peel of the banana will darken but the banana itself will stay intact longer.
To encourage faster ripening, place the banana in a brown paper bag at room temperature.1
In 2008, a popular diet fad known as the Morning Banana Diet recommended eating a banana in the morning along with water, eating a normal lunch and having dinner before 8pm.
Add a sliced banana to your morning cereal or oatmeal for a more nutritious breakfast
Like apple sauce, ripe mashed bananas can be used in baked goods to replace oil or butter. Mashed bananas lend a moist, naturally sweet flavor to muffins, cookies and cakes.
Peel and freeze bananas for a great addition to any smoothie.
Add sliced banana to your morning cereal or oatmeal, or take a banana with you on your way to work or school for a healthy, portable snack.
Risks and precautions
Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. High potassium foods such as bananas should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.
Consuming too much potassium can be harmful for those whose kidneys are not fully functional. If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal.
Green-banana flour makes healthy pasta alternative for celiac disease patients
A study by researchers at the University of Brazil and published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reveals that a new gluten-free pasta, derived from the flour of green bananas is a healthier, delicious substitute compared to other pastas for celiac disease patients.
Water purifying banana skins
To the surprisingly inventive uses for banana peels - which include polishing silverware, leather shoes, and the leaves of house plants - scientists have added purification of drinking water contaminated with potentially toxic metals. Their report, which concludes that minced banana peel performs better than an array of other purification materials, appears in ACS's journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.