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EAT A ‘SUPERFOOD’ THAT’S CLOSELY RELATED TO MONKEYS

If we talk about a fruit that’s closely associated with monkeys, nothing comes into our mind but bananas. While Americans have apples, Filipinos have bananas and their health powers are proven.

You maybe surprised to know that our subject is not a fruit but it’s actually a berry.

Bananas are one of the most widely consumed “fruits” in the world for good reason. Eating them could help lower blood pressure and reduce the risks of cancer and asthma. Today, bananas are grown in at least 107 countries and are ranked fourth among the world’s food crops in monetary value. Americans consume more bananas than apples and oranges combined.

With the world consuming so many bananas, it’s not surprising that people are asking the question: are bananas good for you? Bananas are rich in potassium and fiber. They may help prevent asthma, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and digestive problems. Ripen bananas at room temperature and add them to cereal for a tasty breakfast. People who use beta blockers should not suddenly increase their intake of bananas.

BANANAS’ HEALTH BENEFITS

FOR BLOOD PRESSURE – 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. Also of note, a high potassium intake is associated with a 20% decreased risk of dying from all causes.

POTASSIUM CONTENTS – Bananas are rich in a mineral called potassium. This mineral is important as it helps maintain fluid levels in the body and regulates the movement of nutrients and waste products in and out of cells.

Potassium also helps muscles to contract and nerve cells to respond. It keeps the heart beating regularly and can reduce the effect of sodium on blood pressure.

Potassium may reduce the risk of kidney stones forming as people age. In turn, healthy kidneys make sure that the right amount of potassium is kept in the body.

One medium-sized banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium. It is best to try to get potassium from dietary sources such as bananas.

NUTRITIONAL PROFILE – One serving of banana is considered to be about 126 grams. One serving of banana contains 110 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of protein. Bananas are naturally free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Bananas provide a variety of vitamins and minerals: Vitamin B6 – 0.5 mg; Manganese – 0.3 mg; Vitamin C – 9 mg; Potassium – 450 mg; Dietary Fiber – 3g; Protein – 1 g; Dietary Fiber – 3g; Protein – 1 g; Magnesium – 34 mg; Folate – 25.0 mcg; Riboflavin – 0.1 mg; Niacin – 0.8 mg; Vitamin A – 81 IU; Iron – 0.3 mg

The recommended intake of potassium for adults is 4,700 milligrams per day.

BANANAS IN THE 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.

HEART HEALTH – Bananas are good for your heart. They are packed with potassium, a mineral electrolyte that keeps electricity flowing throughout your body, which is required to keep your heart beating. Bananas’ high potassium and low sodium content may also help protect your cardiovascular system against high blood pressure.

DEPRESSION AND MOOD – Bananas can be helpful in overcoming depression due to high levels of tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin, the mood-elevating brain neurotransmitter plus, vitamin B6 can help you sleep well, and magnesium helps to relax muscles. Additionally, the tryptophan in bananas is well known for its sleep-inducing properties.

DIGESTION AND WEIGHT LOSS – Bananas are high in fiber, which can help keep you regular. One banana can provide nearly 10 percent of your daily fiber requirement. Vitamin B6 can also help protect against type 2 diabetes and aid in weight loss. In general, bananas are a great weight loss food because they taste sweet and are filling, which helps carb cravings.

Bananas are particularly high in resistant starch, a form of dietary fiber in which researchers have recently become interested.

EXERCISE – For replenishing energy and electrolytes, bananas can be more effective than sports drinks. They compared athletes refueling with Gatorade every 15 minutes to athletes refueling with a banana and water. Researchers saw that the athletes’ performance times and body physiology were the same in both cases. But the banana’s serotonin and dopamine improved the athletes’ antioxidant capacity and helped with oxidative stress, improving performance overall.

VISION – Carrots may get all the glory for helping your eyes, but bananas do their share as well. The fruits contain a small but significant amount of vitamin A, which is essential for protecting your eyes, maintaining normal vision and improving vision at night. Vitamin A contains compounds that preserve the membranes around your eyes and are an element in the proteins that bring light to your corneas. Like other fruits, bananas can help prevent macular degeneration, an incurable condition, which blurs central vision.

BONES – Bananas may not be overflowing with calcium, but they are still helpful in keeping bones strong. Bananas contain an abundance of fructooligosaccharides. These are nondigestive carbohydrates that encourage digestive-friendly probiotics and enhance the body’s ability to absorb calcium.

CANCER – Some evidence suggest that moderate consumption of bananas may be protective against kidney cancer. A 2005 Swedish study found that women who ate more than 75 servings of fruits and vegetables cut their risk of kidney cancer by 40 percent, and that bananas were especially effective. Women eating four to six bananas a week halved their risk of developing kidney cancer.

Bananas may be helpful in preventing kidney cancer because of their high levels of antioxidant phenolic compounds.

PREGNANCY – While not exactly a health benefit, a study published by The Royal Societyfound that the potassium in bananas is correlated with women giving birth to baby boys. The study looked at 740 women and saw that those who consumed high levels of potassium prior to conception were more likely to have a boy that those who did not.

Bananas may also help prevent gestational diabetes. Lack of sleep during pregnancy can contribute to gestational diabetes, according to a meta-analysis published in Sleep Medicine Reviews. But the magnesium and tryptophan in bananas can help ensure a good night’s rest.

SIDE EFFECTS OF EATING TOO MANY BANANAS

1. WEIGHT GAIN – Agreed that bananas, in comparison to your favorite box of cookies or crisps, have lesser calories, but, they still have enough calories to make you put on weight. That is if you don’t keep a tab on your portion sizes.

A medium-sized banana contains 105 calories. That, in comparison to a medium-sized orange (62), a bowl of diced watermelon (45), or a cup of grapes (62) is a lot higher.

2. MIGRAINE – If you’re often troubled by excruciating migraine attacks, you may want to avoid including bananas in your daily diet. Tyramine, a substance found in many foods like cheese, fish, meats, and bananas is a trigger for migraine headaches.Since banana peels contain ten times more tyramine than banana pulp, be extra cautious about removing the stringy pieces of peel from the fruit before eating it.

3. HYPERKALEMIA – Hyperkalemia is a condition caused due to excess potassium in the blood and is identified through symptoms like uneven pulse rate, nausea, and irregular heartbeat that can even lead to heart attack. A dosage of potassium greater than 18 g can cause hyperkalemia in adults.

4. TOOTH DECAY – Being high in starch, bananas can cause serious tooth decay if you don’t maintain proper dental hygiene. According to certain studies, bananas can be even more detrimental to your oral health as compared to chocolates, red licorice, and chewing gum. Starches dissolve slowly in the mouth whereas sugars dissolve quickly. Therefore, when you consume foods like bananas, their particles rest between the teeth for about two hours and thus attract more bacteria, resulting in more cavities.

5. DROWSINESS – Bananas can make you feel drowsy, even if you’ve just started the day. They are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that can reduce your mental performance and reaction time, apart from making you feel sleepy. Bananas also contain high doses of magnesium, a mineral that aids muscle relaxation. These properties, however, make them a good snack before bedtime.

6. NERVE DAMAGE – Since bananas contain vitamin B6 in high amounts, their overconsumption can result in nerve damage. Consumption of more than 100 mg of vitamin B6 without prescription can result in nerve damage.

7. RAGWEED ALLERGY – Ragweed allergy is a condition that causes your immune system to react when you inhale ragweed (weeds that grow throughout the United States) pollen grains. A person suffering from this allergy displays symptoms like swollen lips, irritated throat, swollen tongue, etc. People who are already suffering from ragweed allergy might experience similar symptoms upon consumption or even handling of bananas.

8. HYPERSENSITIVITY IN PATIENTS ALLERGIC TO LATEX – As per a study conducted by the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, those individuals who are allergic to latex display hypersensitivity to bananas too. Symptoms like wheezing, runny nose, coughing, itchy throat, and watery eyes are common with this allergy.

9. RESPIRATORY PROBLEMS – Another problem that is an offshoot of ragweed allergy is inflammation. It might constrict airways and cause respiratory problems. This might result in severe difficulty in breathing or swallowing.

10. PAIN – If you indulge in bananas that aren’t ripe enough, you may end up with a severe stomach pain. You may also experience nausea along with the abdominal pain. Unripe bananas contain a high amount of resistant starch that takes a long time for your body to digest. You may also experience immediate vomiting or diarrhea.

11. ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK – Some individuals allergic to bananas can also experience a serious immune response with a sudden drop in blood pressure. Their respiratory troubles inhibit blood oxygen levels from rising, and they can experience shock. Watch out for symptoms such as increased or reduced pulse rate, light-headedness, and faintness. A study reveals such extreme cases of banana allergy even in infants. The study further suggests that while introducing solid foods to their babies, parents must be cautious and consider banana as a potential allergen.

12. CONSTIPATION – We were shocked on learning that bananas cause constipation! All along, we have known that bananas aid bowel movements, but the magic lies in how ripe the bananas are. Unripe or green bananas are rich in resistant starches, which can increase the risk of constipation. They even contain heavy doses of tannic acid that has an inhibitory effect on the digestive tract. Tannic acid obstructs the secretion of the gastrointestinal fluid and curbs gastrointestinal motility. A ripe banana, on the other hand, can help alleviate constipation. Bananas have been reported as constipation-causing foods.

13. GAS – Consuming bananas can result in gas. They contain soluble fiber and fructose, both of which can cause gas. If you suddenly increase your intake of fiber or consume it in huge amounts, it takes a lot of effort for your large intestine to break down the fiber, and it can thus cause gas. Similarly, in the case of fructose, when taken in large amounts, your body can find it difficult to digest it.

14. RISK OF TYPE 2 DIABETES – Bananas fit the ‘medium-level’ glycemic food category, which means that they have the ability to cause a slight spike in your blood sugar levels. Since the overconsumption of foods with a high glycemic index can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases, you should regulate your intake of bananas. This is all the more true in the case of overripe bananas as they have a higher glycemic index as compared to regular bananas.

BANANA RECIPES

American-style pineapple & banana pancakes

Ingredients

  • 100g/4oz fresh or drained canned pineapple
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp light muscovado sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 100ml milk
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • Greek yogurt
  • Maple syrup to serve

Preparation

1. Roughly chop the pineapple and slice the banana. Tip the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar into a bowl and mix well.
2. Make a well into the centre and crack in the egg, then gradually mix the egg into the flour, adding the milk gradually to make a soft batter.
3. Stir in the pineapple and banana. Heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the batter in heaped tablespoonsful, well apart to allow them to spread. When bubbles appear on the surface, flip the pancakes over and cook until light golden.
4. Cook all the pancakes and keep them warm. Serve 2-3 pancakes with a spoonful of yogurt and a little maple syrup poured over.

Banana date cake with walnut & honey glaze

Ingredients

  • 175g softened butter plus extra for the tin
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 tbsp clear honey
  • 2 overripe bananas (about 350g with skins on)
  • 100g stoned date
  • 50g chopped walnut
  • 2 tbsp clear honey
  • 25g butter
  • 50g walnut, half

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Butter and line the base of an 18cm Bundt mould or round cake tin (see p120) with baking parchment. Put the flour, cinnamon, butter, sugar, eggs and honey in a large mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or hand-held electric mixer until light and fluffy.
2. Mash the bananas and chop the dates. Stir into the cake mix with the walnuts. Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 40-50 mins until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (a round tin may take 10-20 mins more). Cool in the tin for 15 mins, then turn out and cool on a wire rack.
3. To make the glaze, put the honey and butter in a small pan and bring to the boil, stirring until the butter has melted. Boil briefly, about 1 min, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the walnuts. Leave to cool until thickened and opaque. Spoon over the top of the cake and leave to set.

References
https://www.eatthis.com/benefits-of-bananas/
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/271157.php
https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2198639/banana-date-cake-with-walnut-and-honey-glaze

ILACM’s Approach

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