Botanical Traits. The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant. Plants are normally tall and fairly sturdy and are often mistaken for trees, but their main or upright stem is actually a pseudostem that grows 6 to 7.6 metres (20 to 24.9 ft) tall, growing from a corm. Each pseudostem can produce a single bunch of bananas. After fruiting, the pseudostem dies.
Propagation and Culture.
Southeast Asian farmers first domesticated bananas. Recent archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence at Kuk Swamp in the Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea suggests that banana cultivation there goes back to at least 5000 BCE, and possibly to 8000 BCE. It is likely that other species were later and independently domesticated elsewhere in southeast Asia. Southeast Asia is the region of primary diversity of the banana. Areas of secondary diversity are found in Africa, indicating a long history of banana cultivation in the region.
Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.
Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it the perfect food for helping to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has recently allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.
Brain Power: 200 students at an English school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.
Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives. Even though itís more often the other way around here.
Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin - known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.
Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body so if you suffer from heart-burn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.
Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.
Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.
Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods (such as bananas) every two hours to keep levels steady.
Pain Reliever: The oil in a banana peel will help relieve the pain from burns and scratches.
PMS: Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer, trypotophan.
Smoking: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking, as the high levels of Vitamin C, A1, B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Splinter Removal: Similar to wart removal, tape a piece of the peel over the splinter. The enzymes will help dislodge the splinter and heal the wound.
Stop the Itch: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation instantly. I havenít tried it on a tabano bite yet, but hope I donít need to any time soon.
Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water-balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be re-balanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.
Strokes: According to research in "The New England Journal of Medicine" eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!
Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.
Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronic ulcer cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.
Wart Removal: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that, if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!
Shoe Polish: Use the peel to make your kicks nice and shiny. Fortunately, my crocks donít need it.
Make Houseplants Glisten: Just like peels can shine shoes, they can also be used to make the leaves of plants shine.
Your Garden Grow: Bananas are naturally high in potassium and encourages plant growth. Use banana peel or puree entire banana and bury with soil.
|Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Portion*
|Amino Acids (mg per g of nitrogen [N 6.25])