Fruits are a healthy raw food that contains a combination of nutrients the body needs. To get the best out of them, it’s always important to know exactly what you’re taking in. Among the variety of fruits today, bananas are one of the healthiest. An effective fruit that can help with weight loss, bananas can also produce a long-lasting filling effect. But they’re not only beneficial when consumed. When used on the skin, bananas also have excellent anti-ageing properties.
Interestingly, it was the morning banana diet, invented by H. Watanabe, that created a massive stir in Japan in 2008. It became so popular that it led to a nationwide banana shortage!
The banana diet consists of having only raw bananas for breakfast. The bananas must be consumed along with room temperature water. The correct banana intake depends on your capacity. For lunch, dinner and snacks, you are at liberty to eat as you please, as long as you don’t eat after 8 pm. A couple of restrictions, however, still apply, such as avoiding ice cream, dairy products, alcohol or desserts after dinner. Room temperature water is the only beverage allowed with each meal.
It’s not only ripe bananas, but green bananas too that are great for those who want to lose weight. Green bananas are great metabolism boosters, and help increase the body’s ability to burn fat. They contain resistant starches that help reduce cholesterol levels and allow the body to lose weight. Usually, carbohydrates are burned first, since they’re required to meet the body’s immediate energy needs. When it comes to green bananas, the resistant starches cause the dietary fat to be burned first, well before they can be stored in the body. But remember to eat them in moderation, since some people tend to get an upset stomach after eating too many green bananas.
A medium-sized ripe banana contains zero fat and cholesterol. It packs 110 calories, while other components include potassium, dietary fibre, sugar, protein, vitamin C and vitamin B6. Each of these contains a good portion of the daily recommended intake. Bananas provide 400 mg of potassium (10% of the daily recommended value); 4 grams of dietary fibre (16%); and 2% of the daily recommended value of protein. Bananas also contain 16% and 20% of the daily recommended amounts of vitamins C and B6, respectively.
- Healthy heart and nervous system- Potassium is a primary ingredient for keeping the heart and nervous system in good shape. The body requires potassium to aid muscle contraction and all muscle-based activities, including normal rhythmic pumping of the heart, digestion and muscular movements. Studies have also linked potassium to lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke.
- Good for kidneys and bones-Potassium helps prevent kidney stones from forming in the body. It also deters calcium excretion in the urine, thereby preventing the loss of calcium from the body, and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
- Good for blood- As one of the richest sources of vitamin B6, bananas are good for the blood. Vitamin B6 plays an important role in converting tryptophan into serotonin, and helps form an important ingredient in the blood - hemoglobin. The vitamin is important for antibody protection and for maintaining a healthy immune response. It also plays an active role in converting carbohydrates to glucose, which helps maintain blood sugar levels. Consuming a single medium banana provides one fifth of the daily recommended intake of vitamin B6.
- Great source of dietary fibre- Fibre is essential for the body as it improves regularity, and has also been linked to reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Mood enhancer and mild sedative- The tryptophan in bananas helps the body produce serotonin, which has a calming effect on the brain, acting as a mild sedative.
- Prevents anemia- Bananas are high in iron, which help the body’s hemoglobin function. Iron-rich foods help prevent anemia.
- Anti-ageing properties- Bananas are great for the skin too! They make excellent face masks, which help keep the skin taut and smooth. They treat age lines and can result in remarkable improvement in skin texture. To make a banana face mask: 1) Mash a banana with 1 tsp. of honey. 2) Apply as a mask and leave on for about 15 minutes. 3) Rinse gently with warm water. Together, the banana and honey have a firming and moisturising effect on the skin, and the combination also lightly exfoliates dead skin cells.
So it turns out that bananas are a big boon, not only for good health but also for healthier and smoother skin. Whether ripe or raw, it’s time to start peeling away! - Hewasa