Expand your banana repertoire from banana bread to delicious main course offerings. Bananas add a sweet hint of tropical goodness to these healthy recipes.
The phrase “going bananas” is used to describe impending insanity—but there’s nothing crazy about eating the fruit. Beloved globally, bananas are the world’s fourth most widely consumed food—for good reason. They are not only affordable but also remarkably versatile and nutrient-dense.
Underneath their skin, bananas are packed with nutrients, most notably vitamins B6 and C, folate, manganese, potassium, fibre, and antioxidants. This impressive lineup can help enhance your health in a variety of ways.
Study after study shows that people who eat foods rich in potassium have a significantly lower risk of high blood pressure and related diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Just one banana supplies your body with about 400 mg of this heart-friendly mineral. And potassium isn’t the only nutrient in bananas that keeps your cardiovascular system healthy—both vitamin B6 and folate can help reduce elevated homocysteine levels—a known risk factor in the development of heart disease.
Curbs kidney cancer
A large population study conducted in Sweden found that women who ate bananas four to six times per week had a 50 percent reduced risk of kidney cancer compared to women who rarely or never consumed the fruit.
Recent research suggests potassium, which abounds in bananas, can help increase bone mineral density in the elderly and may play a significant role in the prevention of osteoporosis. Furthermore, preliminary animal studies indicate bananas’ abundance of manganese may also help stave off the disease.
While bananas are undeniably delicious eaten as a snack or added to baked goods, there are other tasty ways to harness their healing goodness. In many countries, they are featured in savoury dishes such as stews and casseroles. Why not celebrate this culinary versatility and try one of the following dishes? Your palate and body will thank you.
- Spicy Tofu with Zesty Banana-Orange Sauce
- Curried Chicken with Bananas
- Crispy Macadamia and Banana Crusted Halibut
- Creamy Banana-Pecan Salad
Cyclists, runners, and recreational athletes take note: one recent study looked at whether we should reach for a banana or a sports drink when working out. To compare, long-distance cyclists noshed on a banana or quaffed a sports drink in the middle of their ride. Turns out, their energy levels were the same either way. Unlike sports drinks, however, bananas are bursting with natural sugars and antioxidants, plus a bounty of fibre, potassium, and vitamin B6. Next time you want to refuel with a post-workout salad, why not throw in some banana slices too?
Choose fair trade
In the past, the global, multi-billion-dollar banana market was largely controlled by just a handful of powerful multinational corporations. Not surprisingly, this resulted in poor wages and working conditions for growers and farm labourers and unsustainable farming practices that focused on increasing crop yield and combatting disease.
In an effort to change these sorts of deleterious scenarios, the Fairtrade International movement was started. Fairtrade essentially establishes a direct partnership between grower and consumer and brings benefits to both parties.
- Growers and labourers receive a fair income, access to decent health care, better working conditions, and fair treatment.
- Child labour is banned.
- Workers have the right to establish or join a union.
- Hazardous pesticides are not used, thereby reducing exposure for both growers and consumers.
- Sustainable farming practices are employed.
For more information on the Fairtrade movement, visit fairtrade.net.