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Are we going BANANAS?!

Are we GOING BANANAS?

We’ve all heard that bananas are a good source of vitamins, minerals and a great source of ‘energy’ or carbohydrates.  I really started GOING BANANAS on this topic after I received an email from a good friend of mine the other day that just blew me out of the water… how could this MAGICAL fruit be in my house and be something I RARELY eat? I will grab a banana out of convenience, not because it’s the healthiest food in the house!

According to the research and studies I have found, bananas can help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet. After reading several articles and doing an entire day of research, It seems there’s almost no ailment that the banana can’t help cure. Besides being the first fruit farmed by man, these tropical fruits are available all year ’round, they are currently sold as the most popular fruit in North America and mighty inexpensive too!

According to a 2003 research project conducted by MBIC, Bananas can cure or temper many of the ailments below. I have referenced a couple of articles also written about bananas and strokes, bananas and depression as well as bananas and bone mass growth.

  • Anemia — Because of their high iron content, bananas have the ability to stimulate hemoglobin production in the bloodstream.
  • Bone Mass Decay – A study at the University of California (San Francisco) discovered that the potassium found in bananas and other potassium-rich foods such as kale, cantaloupe, broccoli and cabbage appears to counteract the bad effects of high-salt diets (most Americans suffer from a HIGH salt diet) by preventing bones from decaying at a fast rate. The test was done on post-menopausal women and proved that potassium actually helped REVERSE the effects! There is a great article I found in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism on this in the May 2009 issue.
  • Constipation/Diarrhea – Apples, Figs, Blackberries, Pears and Bananas are the TOP 5 fiber- containing fruits. If you’re blocked up, eat a banana before turning to a chemical-filled laxative. The banana’s high fiber content helps to restore normal bowel function. On the flip side, a bout of diarrhea can quickly deplete your body of important electrolytes. Bananas can replenish your stores of potassium (one of the most important electrolytes) which helps fluid balance.
  • Depression – Like turkey, bananas contain tryptophan, a protein that converts to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is the facilitator for relaxation. This is why we all get tired after a big turkey dinner around the holidays! Low levels of serotonin are believed to cause mood disorders including depression. If you’re feeling down, try eating a banana! You can also apply this idea to battling PMS symptoms.
  • Nervousness – Bananas are high in the B-complex vitamins (B-6 and B-12) both of which are known to have a calming effect on the nervous system as well as regulating blood pressure and releasing tryptophan, causing relaxation… the same idea as for depression.
  • High Blood Pressure – The U.S. Food and Drug Association recently allowed the banana industry to make official claims that bananas help reduce the risk of blood pressure problems! A recent study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine states that “including bananas in your everyday diet can cut the risk of death from strokes by up to 40%.”  Since the average banana contains a whopping 467 mg of potassium and only 1 mg of sodium, a banana a day may help to prevent high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis (the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries).
  • Heartburn and Ulcers
    Bananas are a natural antacid. “In most cases, they will give heartburn relief in minutes” says Dr. P Bradley Carey. For a soothing, natural antacid, eat a banana for heartburn relief instead of an OTC antacid tablet. For some, this may sound ludicrous; carrying around a banana!? If it is too inconvenient to carry a banana with you, try carrying banana powder. This dried, ground form of bananas can be found in health food stores. Another alternative would be dried banana slices. Bananas work their protective magic in two ways: First, substances in bananas help activate the cells that compose the stomach lining, so they produce a thicker protective mucus barrier against stomach acids. Second, other compounds in bananas called protease inhibitors help eliminate bacteria in the stomach that have been pinpointed as a primary cause of stomach ulcers. Ripe Bananas contain probiotics which assist the digestive system in the digestion and absorption process. No need to spend lots of money on pre-made, sugar-filled drinks at the grocery store!
  • BeautyThe Body Shop has recorded using approximately 250,000 bananas each year in the manufacture of its beauty products. In most countries, there is some form of a home spun beauty treatment. For instance, in Central America, mashed bananas are used to relieve dry skin.

The following may be ‘wives tales’ but have been noted time and time again for being effective    treatments for the following:

  • hangovers (blend with milk and honey)
  • morning sickness (by balancing blood sugar levels)
  • mosquito bites and warts (apply the inside of peel to skin)A few FUN FACTS I learned while researching bananas
  • Peel a banana from the bottom and you won’t have to pick the little “stringy things” off of it, that’s how the primates do it!
  • Bananas can be peeled, wrapped in plastic and frozen whole or pureed for up to 2 months!

Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store.  If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.

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