1. Bananas beat out the competition: Up to 90% of Americans peel and eat this delicious, nutritious fruit at least monthly.  Most North Americans and Europeans consume what is known as the dessert banana, which is eaten fresh and is very sweet. By contrast, the majority of the world population consumes the plantain.
  2. The Cavendish banana consumed here in the states is named for William Cavendish (1790-1858), 6th Duke of Devonshire.  He went bananas for bananas found in West Africa, then tried to replicate them on his English country estate. Traders eventually took bananas to Latin America, where they flourished and still supply most of the fruit consumed here in the U.S.!
  3. Botanically, the banana fruit is a berry.  Bananas have tiny vestigial seeds which sometimes can be seen as black dots or specs within the actual fruit.  This makes life easier on infants and teeth…but considerably harder on farmers, as bananas barely form viable seeds, rendering the fruit practically sterile.  Now to make matters more interesting, the plant on which bananas grow is technically not a tree – but an herb.
  4. Flour made from bananas has excellent nutrition properties relative to normal flours and is substituted for regular wheat flour in some parts of the world. As banana flour has no gluten, it is a good swap for people with gluten intolerance, especially for those with celiac disease.
  5. Even with three natural sugars—sucrose, fructose and glucose—bananas pack a paltry 100 calories beneath the peel.  But this alone isn’t why the "Morning Banana Diet” became all the rage in Japan and elsewhere: Satiating effects of bananas’ prebiotic fiber, in addition to fat-burning vitamin C makes them a satisfying staple of successful weight-loss regimens.
  6. Given the roughly 100 million tons of bananas grown annually around the world, there’s an enormous supply of banana peels that are going to waste…when they could be going to treat waste.  Brazilian scientists from the Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos found that dried, pulverized banana peels purified heavy metals from contaminated water better than other conventional methods. For example, banana peels were 200-300% more effective at absorbing copper than peanut husks, sawdust, bentonite (a clay) or perlite (volcanic glass).
  7. While banana peels were once regarded as little more than the punch line of a clichéd joke, they’re now being investigated for previously unimagined benefits. For example, researchers are exploring the potential of banana lectin called BanLec to provide natural, topical protection against HIV.
  8. Many people don’t know of all the scientific brainpower buzzing at the North Carolina Research Campus, where eight universities have joined forces to study fruit and vegetables alongside Dole researchers.  Indeed, the Dole Nutrition Research Lab, led by Dr. Nick Gillitt, has become a font of nutrition knowledge about bananas. Data from the Dole lab has shown that the peel from one medium-size banana has higher polyphenolic antioxidant value than a cup of blueberries!
  9. Going bananas may help kids breathe easier. Children who ate just one banana a day had a 34% less chance of developing asthmatic symptoms, according to one British study. After gathering dietary data on over 2,500 youngsters, ages 5 to 10, they found that banana eaters were one-third less likely to encounter breathing problems like wheezing
  10. Bananas vs. Tummy Bugs? A study examining the effect of a dietary intervention with young children suffering from severe gastrointestinal distress brought on by bacterial infection found that those given two bananas/day along with antibiotics had 60% less symptoms such as diarrhea after five days compared to those just given antibiotics alone.

Banana Bonus: If you look upon bananas as a breakfast food, here are some ideas for exploring banana benefits in unexpected ways…you can grill them.  You can turn them into luscious nutritious desserts with the Yonanas®.  You can also add them to salads…salsa…even make a soup!

Published March 1, 2014