Many people stay away from bananas, believing them to be high in fat and calories. It's true that, compared to other fruit, they have a lot of calories, but 1 medium banana only has 1 gram of fat and the benefits, in my opinion, certainly outweigh these negative factors. Bananas, related to the lily and orchid family, fit right in with other produce as having remedial qualities. Among other things, bananas are an excellent source of potassium.

bananas
Potassium

What's so great about potassium? Potassium lends a helping hand in: regulating water balance in the body; contracting muscles; transmitting nerve impulses; and keeping the heart and kidneys functioning properly. It also helps keep blood pressure under control, which means high potassium intake could reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. A recent study at Johns Hopkins University showed that potassium supplements lowered participants' high blood pressure by 4.4 points on their systolic and 2.5 points on their diastolic.

Bananas, because of the high potassium levels, are also given to patients on diuretics to replenish this important mineral. The great news is that our bodies can absorb about 90% of the total potassium we eat each day. One medium banana has about 11% of our daily requirement.


Intestinal/Stomach Disorders

Upset Stomach. Bananas can help cure an upset stomach by stimulating the production of mucus and cells in the stomach, thus creating a barrier between the stomach lining and the acids that cause upset stomachs and heartburn. Note, however, that some people experience gas from eating bananas.

Nausea. Bananas can ease nausea and vomiting brought on by intestinal viruses, medications, bad food, morning sickness, and from overdrinking. If you have been vomiting, you can safely eat bananas because 1) they soothe the stomach, 2) they are easily digested, and 3) they are soft enough for your stomach to handle after a violent experience.

Diarrhea. An old wives' tale says that bananas "bind" you if you have diarrhea. The old wives were right. Bananas help ease diarrhea because they are a high-bulk food. They have been found to be particularly good for juvenile diarrhea.

Parasites. Banana root has been used to expel and destroy parasitic worms.


Other Benefits

Goiter. Bananas have been seen to be useful in the treatment of goiters, which are enlargements of the thyroid gland.

Colon Cancer. The pectin (a soluble fiber) in bananas helps fight off colon and pancreatic cancers.

Helps fight off infections.
Bananas have antibiotic properties to help fight off infections and viruses.

Energy. Bananas are excellent energy snacks, particularly for the after-activity period. They contain vitamins B6 and C, potassium, and dietary fiber. During strenuous physical activity, your body loses a lot of these vitamins and minerals and eating a banana will help replace them and keep you going. Runners and bikers eat bananas after races for that reason. Bananas also contain more digestible carbohydrates than other fruit, calories from which the body burns off more quickly and easily than from protein or fat.
banana baby food

Great Baby Food. Bananas are low in allergens and relatively few babies are allergic to them. They are easy to digest as well.

Nutritional for Growing Children. Small children have small stomachs and they don't get everything they need for continual energy from just regular meals. Bananas make up for that when eaten between meals.

Safe Food to Eat. Because of their thick skins, bananas are among the cleanest, safest produce to consume.

Shoe polish. That's right. I've heard that a banana peel makes a good shoe polish.

One medium banana contains 104 calories, 1 g protein, 27 g carbs, 7 mg calcium, 23 mg phosphorus, 451 mg potassium, 2 g dietary fiber, 9 RE vitamin A, 10 mg vitamin C, 8 mg iron, 6 mg thiamin, 7 mg riboflavin, 8 mg niacin, 12 mg ascorbic acid. One banana supplies 20% of the U.S. recommended daily allowance of B6, 16% of the fiber, 15% of the vitamin C, and 11% of the potassium.

These are all excellent statistics, especially considering that the average person eats 33 pounds of bananas every year. If you're ever so inclined, you can visit two (yes, two) banana museums. One is The Banana Museum in Auburn, Washington—http://www.geocities.com/NapaValley/1799. The other is on Sainte-Marie, Martinique, French West Indies—http://www.geocities.com/NapaValley/2798. For more banana information, tips, and recipes, visit Chiquita Banana, North America at http://www.chiquita.com. Enjoy the recipes below, both courtesy of http://www.recipecenter.com.


Bananas au Gratin
Yield: 8 servings
babanas au gratin

1 pint cottage cheese
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon rind, freshly grated
1 tsp lemon juice
4 bananas
4 graham cracker squares, crumbled
Ground cinnamon

1. Combine cottage cheese, sugar, vanilla lemon rind and lemon juice in food processor; blend until smooth.
2. Spread blended cheese mixture in a shallow 7 x 12" glass baking dish or put ¼ cup mixture in individual au gratin dishes.
3. Thinly slice bananas and spread slices evenly on top of cheese mixture.
4. If using individual dishes, put half a sliced banana on top of each serving.
5. Sprinkle top evenly with graham cracker crumbs and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.
6. Place under broiler until hot and lightly browned.

Per serving: 120 calories, 3 mg cholesterol, 1 g fat, 277 mg sodium.

Fried Bananas Almandine
Yield: 6 servings
fried banana almonds

6 bananas, peeled
1 cup almonds, sliced
1 cup chocolate sauce
4 oz orange liquor (Gran Marnier, Triple Sec)
Butter, clarified, as needed

1. Cut bananas in half lengthwise.
2. Saute bananas and almonds in butter until golden brown.
3. Heat chocolate sauce and combine with orange liquor.
4. Pour chocolate sauce onto dessert plates covering the center of the plates.
5. Arrange bananas neatly on each of the plates and top with sauteed almonds and serve.