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Health

Food for Thought: A Banana a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Have you ever tasted a Greek banana? In Crete they have been common for many decades because of the calm winter. Small banana trees adapted to Greek soil (the banana is not a native plant in Greece) decorate houses and provide a small luxurious level of production of banana fruit.

With climate change, banana trees are becoming a common phenomenon elsewhere too, even in my hometown Thessaloniki, in Northern and colder Greece.

Banana trees are easy to grow in a big pot – they just need warm temperature and a lot of sun.

But here is the ‘Hot question’: Do bananas make you fat? Nope! Total fat in a medium banana (around 100 g) is 0.33 g. Strangely enough, a 100 g banana is 75 g water, making it a great fruit for summer days…and all year round. Also, it has 1 g protein and 22 g carbohydrates, 2.6 g fiber, and 12 g of sugars. The energy content of a medium banana is 89 kcal, not too much for a ‘banned’ fruit. Yes, there are sugars and calories but they are not empty calories, being accompanied by various micronutrients.

The banana is rich in potassium (358 mg/100 g banana), an essential mineral needed by all tissues in the body. It works as an active electrolyte, improving cell and nerve function. Also, it is rich in magnesium (27 mg/100 g banana) helping nerve and muscle function, synthesis of protein, blood pressure regulation, and blood glucose control.

Did you know a banana can help you concentrate better than coffee?

Bananas also has a special amino acid – tryptophan – which may help with the preservation of memory function and the ability to learn and remember things. It also helps regulate mood.

Food for thought indeed!

In is also good to eat a banana before exercising the body because it is rich in phosphorus (22 mg/100 g banana), a key element for bones, teeth, and cell membranes. It also helps the kidneys filter out waste. Phosphorus also help muscles after a workout.

Vitamins C and A and antioxidants are present in bananas, boosting the defenses against cancers. In the digestive tract, bananas act like ‘back and forward food’. For example diarrhea, cause loss of water and electrolytes (such as potassium) and bananas have both of these.

For digestive problems simple bloating and cramps to  serious Crohn’s disease and colitis symptoms, bananas are recommended.

My Yiayia gave us black tea, toast bread, kasseri cheese, and bananas when we got sick.

Again, the health benefits of eating bananas include preserving and boosting memory, improving blood pressure, fighting cancer and diabetes, promoting liver health and helping with minor or major digestion small problems.

Are there any drawbacks? Bananas are not recommended in large quantities because they contain more calories than other fruits. Also, it is better to consume organic bananas because the big producers use a lot of pesticides in their cultivation and transportation.

I personally recommend that you reach out for Greek bananas. In their case, size does matter: they are smaller but tastier – and free of pesticides and preservatives! That is their advantage!

* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Botany-Biology.

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