Our vegetable of the week is Bananas!
Ummm…. Excuse me, but aren’t bananas a fruit? And isn’t this a blog about vegetables?
So glad you asked! YES! This is a blog about vegetables but….. fruits are so nutritious and delicious that I’d be doing you a huge disservice by not talking about fruits! So once a month, I will take a week off from talking about vegetables and highlight a fruit!
FUN FACTS about bananas:
Bananas can float on water! Brings new meaning to the term “banana boat!” LOL Humans share about 50% of our DNA with bananas. While we often think bananas grow on trees, botanically they grow on a plant that is an herb and technically bananas are a berry. The cluster of bananas that grow on the “tree” is called a hand while a single banana is called a finger.
Surprising Nutrition of Bananas
There are many good reasons bananas are the MOST popular fruit in the world! They are so healthy and delicious! Some say an apple a day keeps the Dr. away but I would argue the same for a banana!
Eating 1 banana provides approximately:
16% of our RDA (recommended daily amount) of Potassium. This is an important electrolyte that helps reduce our chances of stroke, lowers our blood pressure, and helps maintain proper fluid balance. It also helps reduce leg cramps. Pregnant women are often advised to eat a banana before bed so they don’t wake up with painful Charley horses.
Want an immune system boost? There is 14% of our RDA of Vitamin C in a banana. This is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to boost our immune system by up to 30%, improve brain function and lower your risk of dementia, lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease by about 25%. You can read more here on how vital vitamin C is to our health and be sure to read the section on how this 1 simple vitamin has shaped the world in which we live! #mindblowing
Want to lower your risk of severe chronic diseases and improve your gut health? There is 12% of our RDA of fiber in just 1 banana. Fiber reduces our risk of several chronic diseases like diabetes, heart related diseases, and colorectal cancer. Fiber helps improve our gut health and helps lower cholesterol. Fiber can also help with weight loss! Read more on how extremely important fiber is here!
6% of the RDA of vitamin B9 or folic acid. B9 has been shown to lower our risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s. B9 also helps reduce the symptoms of depression. B9 or Folic acid is a critical vitamin for fetal development.
Feeling a little down lately and want a natural pick me up? There is 33% of the RDA of vitamin B6 or pyridoxine in a banana. Those low in B6 are twice as likely to suffer from depression and have double the risk of heart disease. B6 also helps reduce PMS symptoms and treat nausea during pregnancy. It also helps reduce your risk of certain cancers.
Been a little stressed lately? 1 banana has 8% of the RDA of vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid. B5 is essential for making red blood cells and it’s one of the most vital vitamins in the human body for this reason. It’s also nicknamed the “anti-stress” vitamin and has been shown to increase our libido in the bedroom.
Suffer from migraines? A banana has 8% of the RDA of vitamin B2 or riboflavin. B2 helps improve our brain function and is vital in maintaining our energy supply. It may even reduce cataracts by as much as 50%. B2 can reduce the frequency and duration of migraines.
Need help reducing inflammation? There is 18% of the RDA of Manganese in a banana. This is a trace mineral and our body needs just a small amount but it has many health benefits. It reduces inflammation, helps improve bone health and strength. It helps reduce stroke and epileptic seizures. It even plays a role in blood sugar regulation. Manganese is important for maintaining normal thyroid function
10% of the RDA of Magnesium. This is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body and it’s involved in over 600 reactions within our body. Things like muscle movement, nerve reaction, protein formation, even energy creation! It helps reduce symptoms of depression, helps lower blood pressure and even helps those with diabetes. It also helps create and repair DNA. It can help boost your athletic performance and even reduce migraines. Despite all these AMAZING health benefits, it is estimated that 50% of Americans are magnesium deficit!
10% of the RDA of Copper. Copper is a trace mineral found in all body tissues. It helps maintain nerve cells, supports our immune system and plays a role in the making of red blood cells.
Want to know more Surprising Nutrition Facts of Bananas?
Don’t throw those peels away!
Get into some poison ivy or bitten by bugs/mosquitos? The inside of a banana peel can help relieve itching! This is due to the oil in a banana peel.
Do you suffer from acne? Take a banana peel and rub it on your skin. Leave it for about 10-15 minutes and then rinse off. This can help reduce inflammation and redness, even reduce breakouts. You can do this daily if you’d like.
Teeth need whitened? Rub banana peel on your teeth for about 2 minutes daily. You should notice whiter teeth in as little as 1 week!
As you can see, there are so many wonderful health benefits and surprising nutrition facts of bananas.
With just 105 calories per banana, they are a great addition to your plate if you are trying to lose weight. These calories are nutrient dense calories too! You want to consume nutrient dense foods to provide your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep you healthy and full of energy, especially if you are reducing calories to shed a few pounds.
Think of it like this… 100 calories of a candy bar (what, is that like 1/2 large candy bar? Can you even stop at just 1/2? I can’t!) Anyways, 100 calories of a candy bar are not the same as 100 calories of bananas. While foods like candy bars are super yummy, they do not provide many, if any nutrients to fuel our bodies and protect it from diseases. I promise you, you would NOT feel satisfied with just 100 calories of candy bar either!
But…. You would feel more satisfied and way FULLER after eating 1 whole banana.
An added bonus– They are easy to grab as you are running out the door too! A perfect, portable snack! They make a great pre workout snack!
Now that you know more on the Nutrition of Bananas, will you be adding bananas to your shopping list and meal plan?
How to choose perfect bananas to maximize the health benefits of bananas.
Bananas are readily available year-round and harvested every day of the year somewhere.
When choosing your bananas, think about how soon you want to consume them and at what stage of ripeness you like them. A greener banana may not be ready for 3-5 days whereas an all yellow banana is ready now and best consumed in 1-3 days. I try to buy a variety of yellow and green bananas so we can eat them throughout the week.
How to store, use and prepare bananas:
Storing your bananas
Bananas store best at room temperature. You can wrap the ends with foil or saran wrap and this will help slow down the ripening of bananas. Bananas also freeze great! Simply remove from the peel and place in a freezer bag. Frozen bananas can be used in a smoothie, to make ice cream or even thaw it and use in baked goods. Banana Bread is a staple in our house.
Ways to use and prepare bananas:
Bananas make the perfect snack to eat as is, especially if on the go! Just grab and peel and eat! Doesn’t get much simpler. Also, due to bananas having such a thick peel, pesticides can’t penetrate into the banana so no washing necessary.
My kids love banana pancakes. You can make the traditional pancakes using flour or you can take 2 eggs and 1 banana, mix well. You can even use an electric blender to mix and cook them up like a normal pancake! Simple and wholesome using just 2 ingredients. I love to top my banana/egg pancakes with 1 tbsp peanut butter and a little sugar free chocolate syrup. These are a little tricky to cook and flip. I suggest cooking them low and slow.
You can even use bananas and have a little creative fun with your pancakes. They can make great bunny pancakes or smiley face pancakes. Set out some fruit and let your kids have some imaginary fun and play with their food.
Chocolate covered frozen bananas are a wonderful healthy and delicious treat in summer! Simply insert a popsicle stick, dip them in chocolate and even add chopped peanuts or sprinkles if you’d like. Lay on a waxed paper covered tray and freeze!
Or make frozen banana bites. Slice bananas into coins and lay them on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Drizzle with melted chocolate and a few chopped nuts and freeze the tray. You’ll have a delicious, healthy dessert in about an hour. Make some extra and place them in a freezer bag once frozen.
Did you know you can make dairy free, vegan ice cream with bananas? Simply puree a frozen banana with a food processor or blender and add whatever flavoring you’d like. You can add some frozen strawberries, blueberries or raspberries when pureeing or simply top the banana “nice cream” with peanut butter, nut butter or chopped nuts. To make a chocolate flavor, simply add some cocoa powder.
Sliced banana is a great topping for oatmeal or in a fruit salad.
Banana bread or banana muffins are a tasty treat for breakfast.
What are your favorite ways to eat bananas? Do you eat a banana a day to keep the Dr. away?
Be sure to let us know in the Veggie Obsessed Facebook group!
How do Bananas grow?
Now that you know the Health Benefits of Bananas, it’s time to look at how they grow!
Bananas grow on beautiful, tropical looking trees that can reach 15’-25’ tall. There are dwarf varieties that will reach about 10’ max. They are a tropical, heat loving plant. Temperatures as low as 50* can stunt the plant and reduce fruit production. They grow in large clusters called a hand.
I hope you enjoyed learning about the Surprising Nutrition of Bananas and the health benefits.
Please join us in our Facebook Group to discuss ways to add more veggies and fruits to your meals!
Hey there my friend! My name is Jodie Crandall and I’m a veggie loving certified health and nutrition coach on a journey to spread the word about how amazing veggies are for our health! I am a self-proclaimed “plant-based meat eater” who has recently lost almost 50 pounds by eating more veggies!