Latin name: Musa
What is a Banana?
The staple starch of many tropical populations, bananas grow in clusters of 50 to 150, with single fruits grouped in bunches, of up to 25 bananas. When we hear the word banana, it is usually the soft, sweet “dessert” banana that comes to mind. In actuality, there are hundreds of edible varieties that fall under two distinct species: the sweet banana and the firmer, starchier plantain, which is usually cooked like a vegetable; plantains have a higher beta-carotene concentration than most sweet bananas.
It is thought that bananas originated in Malaysia about 4,000 years ago. The banana was given its name by Arabian slave traders. The bananas that were growing in Africa and Southeast Asia were not the large fruits that we see in supermarkets today. They were small, about the length of a man’s finger—hence the name, banan, which is Arabic for finger. Today, they are cultivated throughout the tropics.
What are the health benefits of Bananas?
In traditional Chinese medicine, bananas are used to treat constipation, thirst, hemorrhoids, hypertension, and alcohol intoxication.
Bananas are great sources of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. A number of studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of high-potassium foods in lowering blood pressure. The potassium content also makes them of particular use to athletes who eat bananas to quickly replenish their electrolytes. In addition, bananas contain a considerable amount of vitamin B6 and vitamin C, as well as calcium, magnesium, and trace amounts of iron and zinc.
For a long time, bananas have been recognized for their antacid effects, which protect against stomach ulcers. One study found that a simple mixture of banana and milk significantly suppressed acid secretion. It is also thought that bananas can help improve your body’s ability to absorb calcium. Consumption of bananas, along with other fruits and vegetables, has been linked to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer and breast cancer.
Recent research suggests that consistently eating fruits and vegetables, especially bananas, can protect against kidney disease. In one study, people who ate bananas four to six times a week cut their risk of developing kidney disease in half compared to those who did not eat this fruit.
Where can I find Bananas?
Bananas can be found in most grocery stores.
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