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Most popular fruit is raising its shelf A-PEEL

Bananas are America’s #1 fruit; 90% of households purchase them weekly and the average American consumes over 25 pounds of them annually. That’s about a banana and a half each week. Soon that number may grow as you may not have to bother with peeling the skin for much longer. Thank a Japanese company that developed a new banana, one with skin so thin, you can enjoy the entire fruit including the peel! It’s called the Mongee banana and it’s grown and harvested with very precise temperature control that delivers a thin edible peel in a speedy four months, compared to the average annual process.

Our own Dole research has shown that banana skin offers a variety of benefits including higher concentration of antioxidants, more fiber, beta carotene and calcium than the flesh alone. These antioxidant compounds, found in high amounts in the peel, have been associated with reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular, diabetes and cancer. Traditionally, the skin has also been used to treat burns, diarrhea, inflammation and snakebites.

While the skin is tough and potentially unpleasant to eat, a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods took a closer look at potential uses to provide direction for future research.  They found that its benefits range from topical use in traditional medicine to fertilizer for soil replenishment and may have a future role as a functional ingredient in the food industry.  Because banana peel is an inexpensive and excellent source of valuable compounds, researchers are investigating further ways to extract nutrients from them. Or perhaps the Mongee banana holds the solution?

While we aren’t recommending that you start eating banana peels yet, you can take advantage of banana’s nutrients by incorporating them into your diet. They’re an obvious choice for breakfast or baking, but we like experimenting with fun ways to include them at lunch or dinner. Try our Thai Chicken – Banana Salad or Grilled Banana and Peach Salad.

Note: Three medium sized bananas weigh about one pound.

Published March 1, 2018

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