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Go Bananas
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Have you had a Cavendish lately? It’s an edible fruit. Other varieties of this tropical starchy plant when ripe are green, red, purple, or brown. But the most common type is yellow. Bananas come in an array of choices, though in the U.S. we mostly import the Cavendish group. We also tend to separate out plantains which are starchier and usually cooked. Most of the world doesn’t make this distinction.

Bananas were originally brought to the US in the last part of the 19th century. The first people to enjoy them lived on the coast where ships dropped them off. They were too fragile to transport very far inland and would easily bruise. But refrigeration and quick transport has made them available just about anywhere. Most come from Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador and Brazil. [1]

One of the best and healthiest raw fruits in the world, the banana is a favorite of all ages and packs a punch with high potassium and fiber. Potassium helps the body maintain normal blood pressure and can help protect against high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. The high fiber levels also help reduce heart disease and risk of stroke. Bananas also promote healthy bones by slowing down the loss of calcium from a high-salt diet that leads to thin bones.

Gift-wrapped Fruit

There are many other benefits of eating bananas. They have been used to ease stomach ulcers, they improve elimination for those suffering from constipation, and they help protect your eyesight—even more than carrots! One research project in the International Journal of Cancer shows that kidney cancer is reduced in people who consume bananas. This gift-wrapped fruit from God is also high in vitamin C and vitamin B-6. [2]

There are an incredible number of ways to enjoy bananas. The most obvious is to simply peel and eat it raw. But many people enjoy them in fruit smoothies, fruit salads, and on their morning cereal or sliced on pancakes. My favorite is my wife’s homemade banana muffins. Outside the U.S. many people deep fry bananas, bake them in their skin in split bamboo, or steam them in rice wrapped in a banana leaf. You can also dry bananas and eat them like chips, make banana jam, create banana flour, or steam them into curries. Why not do your body a favor this week and go bananas!

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

[1] http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=7
[2] http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2237?qlookup=09040&max=25&man=&lfacet=&new=1

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