Bananas are eaten with pleasure all over the world. In Germany, the banana is the most popular type of fruit after the apple. But is the yellow perennial fruit also healthy? After all, it contains a lot of fructose and more calories than many other types of fruit.
Bananas are considered the perfect snack between meals. Filling, nutritious, and already well-packaged by nature, many people eat them from infancy. And indeed: the banana is a real power pack, packed with energy suppliers and the mineral potassium. There are several varieties of fruit, which can be divided into two types: the sweet banana and the firm plantain.
The most popular variety of bananas
The most popular type of banana is the dessert banana. This so-called Musa × paradisiacal is available in different sizes. It is usually eaten unprocessed. The larger, green bananas are known as plantains. They are prepared like vegetables and boiled or fried.
The nutritional values of bananas
Bananas are oblong and have soft flesh in thick, inedible skin. The color of the skin varies from green (unripe) to yellow (ripe) to brown (overripe). However, ripe and unripe bananas also differ in their nutritional values. Green bananas have a higher starch content. As they ripen, the starches are converted to sugars and the fruit becomes sweeter. 100 grams of ripe banana provide:
- 81 kilocalories
- 20.3 grams of carbohydrates
- 1.4 grams of fiber
- 18.1 grams of fructose
Because they have a lower water content than most fruits, bananas have more calories and higher sugar content in comparison. The latter can provide a quick boost of energy, but the insulin level, which rises sharply for a short time due to the sugar, drops again shortly afterward, which can cause ravenous appetite attacks and tiredness.
Are Bananas Healthy?
Bananas are an excellent source of potassium and also provide vitamin B6, fiber, carbohydrates, and vitamin C. Due to their high content of the prebiotic fiber pectin, bananas also have a beneficial effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Prebiotics are fibers that are not digested by the body. Instead, they are used by the good bacteria in the large intestine, which allows them to multiply optimally. This helps with intestinal problems such as diarrhea or constipation.
Bananas as a source of potassium
Bananas are packed with micronutrients, especially potassium. Potassium is one of the most important electrolytes in the body. It helps regulate heart function and blood pressure. Eating potassium-rich foods like bananas can help lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease and stroke. Extensive scientific studies have proven this. For example, researchers at Queen’s Medical Center in Hawaii found that eating just one banana a day can significantly strengthen the heart muscle and reduce the risk of stroke by up to 50 percent.
“Potassium is an essential mineral. It takes on an important function in the transmission of stimuli from nerve fibers (e.g. pain, cold, and muscle contraction),” confirms nutritionist Astrid Donalies from the German Society for Nutrition. “Potassium is important for tissue tension and has a role in the regulation of water balance.”
The body of an adult needs around 4,000 mg of potassium per day, which can be easily covered with a healthy diet. A banana has about 370 mg per 100 g. Potassium losses can only occur with high water losses, for example through extreme physical exertion such as in competitive sports. One reason why triathletes, cyclists, and marathon runners like to reach for bananas. Dried bananas are even richer in potassium, but they also have a higher calorie content.
When are bananas ripe?
Bananas are tropical fruits and grow primarily in warm areas with high humidity. They are picked unripe and transported. When they reach the supermarket shelves, they are still green and ripen here or at home in the fruit bowl.
If bananas are placed in a bag, they will ripen faster. This is due to the gases they give off, which encourage further ripening. For this reason, bananas should not be stored together with other fruits, as they can also ripen too quickly.
Brown spots on bananas are a sign of natural ripening. They can still be consumed without hesitation.
How should bananas be stored?
Bananas are grown in hot climates and don’t tolerate cold very well. They should therefore not be stored in the refrigerator. Here their enzymes, which allow them to mature, are deactivated. So the shell can turn black. However, you can freeze the fruit. That’s why you should