A banana is an elongated, edible fruit – botanically a berry – produced by several kinds of large herbaceous flowering plants in the genus Musa. In some countries, bananas used for cooking may be called “plantains”, distinguishing them from dessert bananas. The fruit is variable in size, color, and firmness, but is usually elongated and curved, with soft flesh rich in starch covered with a rind, which may be green, yellow, red, purple, or brown when ripe. The fruits grow in cluster hanging from the top of the plant. Almost all modern edible seedless (parthenocarp) bananas come from two wild species – Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. The scientific names of most cultivated bananas are Musa acuminata, Musa balbisiana, and Musa × paradisiaca for the hybrid Musa acuminata × M. balbisiana, depending on their genomic constitution. The old scientific name for this hybrid, Musa sapientum, is no longer used.
Musa species are native to tropical Indomalaya and Australia,and are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea. They are grown in 135 countries, primarily for their fruit, and to a lesser extend to make fiber, banana wine, and banana beer and as ornamental plants. The world’s largest producers of bananas in 2017 were India and China, which together accounted for approximately 38% of total production.
Worldwide, there is no sharp distinction between “bananas” and “plantains”. Especially in the Americas and Europe, “bananas” usually refers to soft, sweet, dessert bananas, particularly those of the Cavendish group, which are the main exports from banana-growing countries. By contrast, Musa cultivars with firmer, starchier fruit are called “plantains”. In other regions, such as Southeast Asia, many more kinds of banana are grown and eaten, so the binary distinction is not useful and is not made in local languages.
The term “banana” is also used as the common name for thr plants that produce the fruit. This can extend to other members of the genus Musa, such as the scarlet banana ( Musa coccinea), the pink banana (Musa velutina), and the Fe’i bananas. It can also refer to members to the genus Ensete, such as the snow banana (Ensete glauum) and the economically important false banana (Ensete ventricosum). Both genera are in the banana family, Musaceae.
Bananas, raw (Daily Value)
Raw bananas (not including the peel) are 75% water, 23% carbohydrates, 1% protein, and contain negligible fat. A 100-gram reference serving supplies 89 Calories,31% of thr US recommended Daily Value (DV) of vitamin B6, and moderate amounts vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber, with no other micronutrients in significant content.
Although bananas are commonly thought to contain exceptional potassium content, their actual potassium content is not high per typical food serving, having only 8% of the US recommended Daily Value for potassium (considered a low level of the DV, see nutrition table), and their potassium-content ranking among fruits, vegetables, legumes, and many other foods is relatively moderate. Vegetables with higher potassium content than raw dessert bananas (358 mg per 100 gm) include raw spinach (558 mg per 100 gm.) , baked potatoes without skin (391 mg per 100 gm), cooked soybeans (539 mg per 100 gm) grilled portabella mushrooms (437 mg per 100 gm), and processed tomato sauces (413-439 mg per 100 gm).
The following sections explain some of the possible health benefits of bananas.
The nutrition information comes from the United State Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) FoodData Central datsbase.
Daily requirements are from the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These are for adults, but they are approximate, as the values vary according to a person’s age and sex.
The American Heart Association (AHA) encourage people to lower their intake of salt, or sodium, and increase their consumption of foods that contain potassium. Potassium can help manage blood pressure and reduces strain on the cardiovascular system.
A 2007 study suggested that eating bananas might help prevent wheezing in children with asthma. One reason for this could be the antioxidant and potassium content of bananas.
Laboratory investigations have suggested that lectin, a protei that occurs in bananas, may help prevent leukemia cells from growing.
Lactin acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help the body remove molecules known as free radicals. It too many free radicals build up, cell damage can occur, potentially leading to cancer.
The study authors suggested that this could be due to the vitamin C content, as this, too has antioxidant properties.
Bananas contain fiber, potassium, folate, and antioxidants, such as vitamin C. All of these support heart health.
A 2017 review found that people who follow a high fiber diet have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those on a low fiber diet. Those who consumes more fiber also had lowermlevels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.
The American Diabetes Association recommend eating bananas and other fruit as they contain fiber. They note that eating fiber can help lower blood sugar levels.
The author of a 2018 review concluded that eating a high fiber diet could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and may lower blood sugar in those who already have the disease.
Bananas contain water and fiber, both of which promote regularity and encourage digestive health. One medium banana provides approximately 10% of a person’s fiber needs for a day.
Bananas are also part of an approach known as the BRAT diet, which some doctors recommend for treating diarrhea. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.
Diarrhea can lead to a loss of water and electrolytes, such as potassium. Bananas can replace these nutrients.
High fiber foods can trigger bloating, gas, and stomach cramps in people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to a 2012 study. However, bananas may improve symptoms, the authors concluded.
The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America recommend banana as a snack food in their diet plan.
Preserving Memory and Boosting Mood
Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid that may help preserve memory, boost a person’s ability to learn and remember things, and regulate mood.