By, Kavita Devgan At The Indian Express
Banana is considered an anomaly in fruits, usually seen in the context of weight gain. The truth is far from it actually. Bananas are, in fact, a slimming superfood. If you are looking for a foolproof way to diminish hunger (minus weight gain) my advice is: Turn to a banana. First, it is a zero fat food and a medium banana contains less than 100 calories. Not bad at all! Plus, it helps to boost your metabolism and is loaded with Resistant Starch (RS), a kind of fibre that not just fills you up but keeps those damaging cravings away too. Slightly under ripe, firm, medium-sized bananas give you 4.7 grams of RS, perfect to keep you full for a long duration.
A banana has a lot going for it. Compare it to an apple – a banana has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrates, three times the potassium, and twice the vitamin C, iron and phosphorus. And what’s more, a medium banana contains less than 100 calories. Again, not bad at all.
This fruit is rich in potassium – a mineral vital for nerve functions, for keeping the blood pressure down and promoting bone health. Potassium helps counteract the increased urinary calcium loss caused by the high-salt diets typical of today’s times and prevents the bones from thinning out too fast, says nutritionist Kavita Devgan
By the way RS consumption is also associated with lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and better calcium and magnesium absorption in the body. This translates to stronger bones and a heartier heart. Small wonder then that the scientific term for banana is “musa sapientum”, meaning the fruit of the wise men.
The high fibre content of bananas keeps the digestion humming along, so beats constipation effectively, without resorting to laxatives. Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief. If had with a little salt, it effectively treats dysentery too. Banana delivers the phytochemcial fructo-oligosaccharides, which boosts the good bacteria in our colon and prevents the bad bacteria from overtaking them and producing toxic acids that can create health havoc. This compound also helps the body absorb important bone-strengthening nutrients like calcium and magnesium.
Feel good food
It’s a happy fruit too. It’s loaded with tryptophan, which gets converted into serotonin in the body. Serotonin is known to relax you, improve your mood and generally make you happier. In fact, low levels of serotonin are a known cause of mood disorders and depression. Bananas also rank as feel-good food due to the high levels of tyrosine they contain. It is a precursor to “happy” neurotransmitters – serotonin and dopamine.
Trust me. Next time you have trouble falling asleep, go to the kitchen and grab a banana instead of reaching out for another sleeping pill. It is a perfect sleep-inducing food thanks to its high magnesium, potassium and tryptophan content. Banana helps the body produce the sleep hormone melatonin naturally, too, due to its high vitamin B 6 content.
The banana is a perfect fix for hangovers. It helps settle the stomach and wards off nausea since it is a natural antacid. The high dose of potassium helps by replacing the lost potassium (You did go to the loo every 5 minutes last night, remember? Well, that not only dehydrated you, but also depleted the blood electrolytes: sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium). The lost magnesium replaced by that banana will help relax those pounding headaches by easing your distorted blood vessels too.
Ever noticed why the banana is a hot favourite with all athletes? That’s because it contains three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose – combined with an extra-large dose of fibre, so it gives an instant boost along with sustained and substantial energy (that’s why you see so many top-level athletes munching on bananas during competitions). It also has high iron content, so has the ability to stimulate haemoglobin production in the bloodstream and keep fatigue away.
Did you know? Banana is a perfect ‘rescue recipe’ if you are trying to junk the cancer stick (cigarettes). The vitamins B6 and B12 and high potassium and magnesium found in it help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Banana is one of the best sources of pyridoxine (vitamin B6) that plays a critical role in the production of molecules (ATP and cAMP), that have been shown to help relax bronchial smooth muscle tissue.
Keep your BP in check
It is rich in potassium – a mineral vital for nerve functions, for keeping the blood pressure down and promoting bone health. Potassium helps counteract the increased urinary calcium loss caused by the high-salt diets typical of today’s times, and prevents the bones from thinning out too fast.
Chomp them cues
But if just biting into it is not really your idea of gastronomic delight… (maybe you find them a bit bland!), then just make “the banana” exciting. A banana for breakfast is a great idea. Take an oval dish and add a cup of cooked oats. Place one banana slice along each lengthwise edge of the dish. Top oats with a sauce of your choice and sprinkle some nuts on top. Or just make a smoothie with yoghurt or milk.
Reach for it in the late afternoon for a quick perk-me-up. Add to a fruit salad, or have it spiced up. Take a banana and make a slit in the skin to open it up. Drizzle in a mixture of 1 teaspoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon honey and ¼ teaspoon black salt. Eat straight off the peel.
Need a cooling snack? Try this: peel a banana and dip it in yogurt. Roll in crushed cereal and freeze. Then bite in.
Agreed a peanut butter and banana sandwich drizzled with honey is a commonplace idea (but heavenly yummy, everyone will have to agree) and more a meal than a snack if we look at how calorific it can get, but have you ever tried a banana roti roll? Simply take a roti, apply peanut butter, place a banana in the centre, roll it, cut into small discs and snack on it. Delicious!
Also try this banana ready in a jiffy dessert: Lightly drizzle oil in a skillet over medium heat. Arrange banana slices in a pan and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove the pan from heat and pour honey mixture (whisk together honey with some water) over the banana. Allow to cool and sprinkle with cinnamon. (Courtesy: Indian Express)