Banana is undoubtedly a permanent member of the elite list of superfoods. It is one of the few fruits with so many varieties, which are famous for their unique benefits. Be it yellow, green or red bananas, at least one is a staple in every Indian household. It is no surprise, as India is one of the largest producers of bananas in the world. Bananas belong to the family of berries. Bananas are often referred to as plantains too. However, there is no proper distinction between the two. Therefore, one usually uses plantains in cooked recipes.
Whether they are for culinary uses or simply a sweet dessert, do not undermine the humbleness of bananas. Instead, read along and find out the myriad of nutrients they contain.
Interestingly, the popularity of banana holds for its potassium content makes it radioactive. But, not to worry, as it takes eating 600 bananas per day for over 80 years to be dangerous.
Nutritional Values of Bananas:
100 grams of (approx. one medium-sized) raw banana contains:
- Calories: 89 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 22.84 g
- Dietary fibre: 12.23 g
- Sugar: 2.6 g
- Fat: 0.33 g
- Protein: 1.09 g
- Vitamin B6: 0.4 mg
- Vitamin C: 8.7 mg
- Manganese: 0.27 mg
- Potassium: 358 mg
- Magnesium: 27 mg
Nutritional Facts of Bananas:
- Almost three-fourths of a banana is water. Specifically, 100 grams of banana contains 75 grams of water. The remaining has 23 per cent carbohydrates and 1 percent protein.
- The carbohydrate content for a raw banana is constant. In such a case, most of it is starch and very little sugar. However, in a ripe banana, the sugar can make up to 16 percent of the whole fruit, and starch reduces to less than 1 per cent.
- They have negligible fat content and minimal protein content.
- The vitamin profile of bananas is rather impressive. All B vitamins except B12 are present in them. In particular, vitamin B6 makes up 31 per cent of the daily recommended value. Other B vitamins like pantothenic acid and folate make up for smaller percentages.
- Banana also contains choline, which is an essential yet underrated nutrient for the body.
- A significant amount of vitamin C is available in bananas. Precisely, it makes up for about 10 percent of the daily recommended value.
- Although we often praise bananas for their potassium, it only makes up for 8 per cent of the daily requirement. However, the cooking bananas have slightly more potassium in them.
- The amount of magnesium in bananas is similar to that of potassium.
- Bananas are rich in manganese, constituting 13 per cent of the daily recommended value.
- Slight traces of phosphorus, zinc and iron are also present.
- Like all other fruits, bananas contain potent plant compounds too. Dopamine and catechins are most notable here.
Health Benefits of Banana
1. Promotes heart health
The potassium in bananas has direct links to promoting the healthy functioning of the heart. Research says that a regular potassium-rich diet can lower the risk of heart diseases by 27%. Moreover, the magnesium in bananas is also a heart-friendly nutrient.
2. Aids in weight loss
Bananas are an excellent snack to steer away from hunger pangs. They are not only low in calories but nutritious and filling. Hence, it aids in managing weight loss.
3. It helps in improving digestion
Fibrous foods and digestion are a match made in heaven. A banana contains sufficient dietary fibre in the form of starch and pectin. Both of these are more prevalent in unripe bananas and reduce with ripening. Therefore, bananas can help improve digestive health.
4. Bananas help you to relax and sleep
Next time you need to chill, grab a banana. The high content of vitamin B6 in bananas helps you sleep better. Bananas also contain tryptophan which has sleep-inducing properties. Also, magnesium can relax the muscles and help you unwind.
5. They may help to fight type II diabetes
One of the main reasons for type II diabetes to occur is insulin resistivity. Resistant starch has the potential to increase insulin sensitivity by 40 to 50% when consumed regularly. Therefore, unripe bananas with significant resistant starch content may help fight diabetes.
6. Serves as an excellent workout food
You most probably know that the entire fitness community speaks highly of bananas. It is not without reason. Having just one banana before exercising will give you sufficient energy for the same. Also, some research says that bananas help to relieve post-workout soreness and cramps.
7. Promotes kidney health
Some studies show that the risk of kidney diseases was much lower in those who consumed bananas regularly. The risk reduction can be as tremendous as 50 per cent.
8. Banana contains antioxidants
Bananas are a good source of antioxidants in the form of natural flavonoids. They not only reduce inflammations but also protect your body from free radical damage.
The Different Ripening Stages of a Banana
Raw bananas are green. They also go by the name of plantain or cooking bananas. Low in sugar and full of resistant starch, these bananas are perfect if you need to watch your diet. Also, they promote good bacteria in the gut. However, the taste may be slightly bitter.
Recently ripened bananas are yellow with no spots on them. They are the most appealing to the eye. Sweeter in taste, most of the banana starch converts to sugar. Moreover, these bananas are easier to digest and snack on. When compared to green bananas, the amount of antioxidants is higher here.
This stage of the banana has many brown spots all over the skin. Every spot showcases the starch to sugar conversion. Therefore, a banana with many spots will have a very sweet taste. As the banana ages, the antioxidants also keep increasing. So, these bananas are rich in antioxidant properties.
At this stage, many people tend to throw away the banana. It is because they may feel the brown colour to be unappetising to eat. Interestingly, it is these bananas that are a powerhouse of antioxidants. They are also the best for making bread and pancakes as they are easy to mush and require less refined sugar. However, diabetic patients should steer clear of this type owing to its high sugar content.
Indian Recipes Using Bananas
While banana bread and pancakes are classics, here are two sweet and savoury Indian recipes that use bananas. If you do not already include bananas in your diet, these recipes will do the job for you.
#1 Kele ki Sabzi or Banana Sabzi
- Cooking banana or plantain – 2 medium
- Ghee (Homemade is preferable) – 1 tsp
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Asafoetida – ¼ tsp
- Coriander powder – ½ tsp
- Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
- Chilli powder – 1 tsp
- Sugar – 1 tsp (optional)
- Salt – to taste
- Coriander- to garnish
- Heat oil in a pan and add in the mustard seeds. Wait for them to crackle and add the asafoetida.
- Chop up the bananas and add them to the pan. Sauté for about 3 minutes.
- Now, add the turmeric, chilli and coriander powders to the bananas. Make sure to do it on low flame as the powders may burn.
- Add salt to taste and a little sugar if you prefer it. Mix then well and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with rice or roti.
#2 Banana Halwa or Banana Sheera
- Roasted Rava (semolina) – 1 cup
- Bananas (sweet) – 2 medium
- Almonds – 10
- Raisins – 10
- Cardamom powder – 1 tsp
- Ghee – 1 tbsp
- Hot water or milk – 2 ½ cups
- Jaggery – 5 to 6 tbsp
- Make sure to buy pre-roasted Rava. Heat ghee in a pan and add the Rava to it. Toast it for about 2 to 3 minutes. Do not let it brown.
- Chop up the bananas and add them to the pan. Add in the sliced almonds and raisins along with the cardamom powder.
- Stir continuously and mix it well. Pour the water or milk into the pan.
- Now, add jaggery to it and let the milk simmer for 5 minutes.
- If needed, you can add saffron on top.
- Serve warm or cold as a dessert.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A. Ideally, one to two bananas are safer to eat per day. Although there is no hard and fast rule around this. Consuming too many bananas may lead to nutrient deficiencies. Due to its filling nature, you may avoid other foods that contain essential nutrients like protein and fat. You may also gain weight if your overall calorie limit regularly exceeds due to bananas.
A. Studies show that bananas in a bunch ripen slower than individual bananas. By doing so, you can increase their shelf life. Keep bananas at room temperature as they do not do well in colder ones. Keeping them in the fridge before they ripen can lower their sweetness. However, once they are fully ripe, it is okay to refrigerate them.
A. Both are acceptable and solely depend on your preference. Eating a banana before a workout can act as an energy supplement. Banana also relaxes the muscles and relieves muscle cramps and soreness. Therefore, they are also a great post-workout meal. However, one thing to consider is bloating. Sometimes, having a banana before a workout may lead to bloating, which can affect your performance.
A. Not necessarily. Ideally, green or unripe bananas are best for weight loss. It is mainly due to their low sugar content and high amounts of starch. These bananas tend to keep you full for extended periods. However, they are also quite tricky to incorporate into a diet. Hence, opt for a regular yellow banana that is neither too ripe nor too raw.