Banana fruit nutrition facts Go for banana fruit, nature's own energy rich food that comes in a safety envelope! Fresh, delicious bananas are available year around and are very cheap. Botanically, the fruit belongs to the family of Musaceae. Commercially, it is one of the widely cultivated crops in the tropical and subtropical zones. Scientific name: Musa acuminata colla. Banana is a perennial herbaceous plant that develops from underground rhizome. It flourishes well under tropical moisture-rich, humid low-lying farmlands. The whole plant is a false stem (pseudostem) consisting of broad leaves and their petioles overlapping around each other in a circular fashion standing up to 2 to 6 meters tall from the ground surface depending upon the cultivar types. At maturity, the rhizome gives rise to flower (inflorescence) that is carried up on a long smooth un-branched stem through the centre of the pseudo-stem emerging out at the top in the centre of the leaf cluster. The flower subsequently develops to hanging bunch consisting of 3 to 20 hands (tiers), each with at least 5-10 fingers (fruits) in each hand (tier). Banana plant or plantain bears hanging clusters of fruits as bunch. Fruits are arranged in tiers, with 6-20 fruits in each tier. Banana plant. There are several cultivars of banana grown with different size (4”-9”inch), color (yellow to brown), weight (70-150g) and taste. Structurally, fruit has a protective outer skin and delicious, sweet and tart, creamy white color edible flesh inside. pllantain are other cultivars types, more often used as cooking bananas. They are closely related to the familiar fruit banana or dessert banana. Plantains are used as a staple diet in Thailand, Laos, and other Southeast Asian as well as in many parts of tropical African and Caribbean regions. Health benefits of banana fruit Banana fruit is rich in calories, but very low in fats. The fruit contains good amounts of health benefiting anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Banana pulp is composed of soft, easily digestible flesh with simple sugars like fructose and sucrose that when eaten replenishes energy and revitalizes the body instantly; thus, for these qualities, bananas are being used by athletes to get instant energy and as supplement food in the treatment plan for underweight children. The fruit contains good amount of soluble dietary fiber (7% of DRA per 100 g) that helps normal bowel movements; thereby reducing constipation problems. It contains many health promoting flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, beta and alpha carotenes in small amounts. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes. It is also a very good source of vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), provides about 28% of daily-recommended allowance. Pyridoxine is an important B-complex vitamin that has beneficial role in the treatment of neuritis, anemia, and decreasing homocystine (one of the causative factor for coronary artery disease (CHD) and stroke episodes) levels in the body. The fruit is also good source of vitamin-C (about 8.7 mg per 100g). Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen free radicals. Fresh bananas provide adequate levels of minerals like copper, magnesium, and manganese. Magnesium is essential for bone strengthening and has cardiac-protective role as well. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Fresh banana is a very rich source of potassium. 100 g fruit provides 358 mg potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure, countering bad effects of sodium. Selection and storage Banana fruits on a plantain leaf. Once ripened, bananas are very fragile and start decaying in short time. In the field, bananas are usually harvested while they are green as it is easy to transport when the fruits are raw and firm. In order to ripen, they are usually subjected to ethylene or kept in close proximity with other ripened fruits. In the stores, choose banana fruits based on when you want to use them; greener ones last for more days, while yellow and brown-spotted bananas should be eaten in a few days. Ready to eat bananas should be quite firm, bright yellow in color and emanate rich fragrance, and the skin should be peeled off easily. Ripened, fresh bananas are nutritionally enriched and sweeter in taste. Avoid mushy or damaged bananas, as they are un-appealing. Preparation and Serving methods Bananas comes with nature gifted protective outer layer of skin, therefore are less likely contaminated by germs and dust. Just remove the peel and enjoy! Banana fruit sections are a great addition to the fruit salads. Fresh "banana-milkshake" with sugar syrup is a delicious drink. Bananas have also been used in the making of fruit jams. Banana fritters can be served with ice cream as well. Banana chips are a snack produced from dehydrated or fried banana or plantain slices. Mash ripe banana fruits and add to cakes, casseroles, muffins, bread pudding etc. Plantain is raw unripe banana that is used as vegetable in recipes. Safety profile Banana fruits are sometimes known to cause skin and systemic allergic reactions. In "oral allergy syndrome" which causes itching and swelling in the mouth or throat within hours after ingestion and is related to birch tree and other pollen allergies. The other type of reaction is related to latex allergies and causes urticaria and potentially serious gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.