Friday, September 25, 2009

Banana - The Wonder Fruit

Oh banana…the all so familiar yellow fruit. We eat a lot of it back home in Asia and here in the US as well. It’s the power fruit people eat if they need something to tide them over a 2-hour lecture or when they are rushing to work in the morning with no time for breakfast or an energy booster just before a workout.

Nutritional Value:
This is because banana is high in complex (i.e. super digestible) carbohydrates and naturally occurring sugars – the right kind of energy your body needs to function. Get the necessary carbohydrates without risking putting on any extra pounds! And banana contains no sodium, fat or cholesterol. In addition, banana is a good source of many of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs:

• Vitamin C – defend against infections, aid absorption of iron and formation of blood
• Vitamin B6 – boost immune system, protein metabolism
• Potassium – helps build muscles and reduce risk of hypertension, stroke and high blood pressure
• Dietary fiber - keeps you full for a longer time and helps your bowel movement

Organic or Non-Organic:
Bananas are one of those fruits that you need not spend the extra penny on to go organic. Bananas have thick skins (that you don’t eat) that protect them from any harmful pesticides that banana plantations use (if at all). And believe it or not, non-organic bananas taste a lot better and sweeter than organic ones.

As a Butter Substitute:

I know! This sounds weird and you must be like “Are you sure???” Yes! I am sure and I have tried and tested recipes to prove it! :D The scientific reason behind this lies in the pectin present in bananas.

Fruit pectin serves the same function that butter does in the baking process. This function is the prevention of gluten formation when water meets flour. Banana is not the only fruit that contains pectin. Prunes and apples sauce can also be used to serve the same purpose. There are a couple of reasons why I prefer bananas over prunes and apple sauce.

Firstly, banana is the most natural fruit pectin you can conveniently find. Applesauce from a grocery store contains citric acid as a preservative. And prunes have a strong color that I can probably only “disguise” in a chocolate recipe. Bananas are also available inexpensively year round.

Buying and Storing:

Buy bananas that are greener unless you intend to eat/use them the same day. Even so, buy the yellow ones that still have a little bit of green at both ends. Bananas ripe very quickly especially when they are hanged instead of placed flat on the table. Totally green bananas take about 3-4 days to ripe till completely yellow and start showing brown spots.

The skin of the banana gets thinner as it ripens. Fully ripen bananas with brown spots can still be eaten but the texture is no longer as good. Fully ripen bananas contain less vitamin C than semi-ripen ones.

So always remember to buy only what you will eat in 3-4 days. I know…that means more trips to the grocery store but hey…we all can do with a little more exercise right? :)


Jen said...

I normally buy several bananas at different stages of ripening (a few green and yellow ones) to avoid going to the store so often.

Kelly said...

Nice. That's exactly what I do too!