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Health benefits of banana fruit

  • Banana fruit is rich in calories, but very low in fats. The fruit contains good amounts of health benefiting anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins.

  • Banana pulp is composed of soft, easily digestible flesh with simple sugars like fructose and sucrose that when eaten replenishes energy and revitalizes the body instantly; thus, for these qualities, bananas are being used by athletes to get instant energy and as supplement food in the treatment plan for underweight children.

  • The fruit contains good amount of soluble dietary fiber (7% of DRA per 100 g) that helps normal bowel movements; thereby reducing constipation problems.

  • It contains many health promoting flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, beta and alpha carotenes in small amounts. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.

  • It is also a very good source of vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), provides about 28% of daily-recommended allowance. Pyridoxine is an important B-complex vitamin that has beneficial role in the treatment of neuritis, anemia, and decreasing homocystine (one of the causative factor for coronary artery disease (CHD) and stroke episodes) levels in the body.

  • The fruit is also good source of vitamin-C (about 8.7 mg per 100g). Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen free radicals.

  • Fresh bananas provide adequate levels of minerals like copper, magnesium, and manganese. Magnesium is essential for bone strengthening and has cardiac-protective role as well.  Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells.

  • Fresh banana is a very rich source of potassium. 100 g fruit provides 358 mg potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure, countering bad effects of sodium.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Banana fruit (Musa acuminata colla),
Nutritive Value per 100 g
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 90 Kcal 4.5%
Carbohydrates 22.84 g 18%
Protein 1.09g 2%
Total Fat 0.33 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 2.60 g 7%
Vitamins

Folates 20 µg 5%
Niacin 0.665 mg 4%
Pantothenic acid 0.334 mg 7%
Pyridoxine 0.367 mg 28%
Riboflavin 0.073 mg 5%
Thiamin 0.031 mg 2%
Vitamin A 64 IU 2%
Vitamin C 8.7 mg 15%
Vitamin E 0.10 mg 1%
Vitamin K 0.5 µg 1%
Electrolytes

Sodium 1 mg 0%
Potassium 358 mg 8%
Minerals

Calcium 5 mg 0.5%
Copper 0.078 mg 8%
Iron 0.26 mg 2%
Magnesium 27 mg 7%
Manganese 0.270 mg 13%
Phosphorus 22 mg 3%
Selenium 1.0 µg 2%
Zinc 0.15 mg 1%
Phyto-nutrients

Carotene-? 25 µg --
Carotene-ß 26 µg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 22 µg --

Selection and storage

Once ripened, bananas are very fragile and start decaying in short time. In the field, bananas are usually harvested while they are green as it is easy to transport when the fruits are raw and firm.

In order to ripen, they are usually subjected to ethylene or kept in close proximity with other ripened fruits. In the stores, choose banana fruits based on when you want to use them; greener ones last for more days, while yellow and brown-spotted bananas should be eaten in a few days.

Ready to eat bananas should be quite firm, bright yellow in color and emanate rich fragrance, and the skin should be peeled off easily. Ripened, fresh bananas are nutritionally enriched and sweeter in taste.

Avoid mushy or damaged bananas, as they are un-appealing.

Safety profile

Banana fruits are sometimes known to cause skin and systemic allergic reactions. In "oral allergy syndrome" which causes itching and swelling in the mouth or throat within hours after ingestion and is related to birch tree and other pollen allergies.

The other type of reaction is related to latex allergies and causes urticaria and potentially serious gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

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