B for Banana: Health benefits, risks, nutritional facts, and delicious Greek vegan recipes (with their nutritional analysis).

Banana is considered to be one of the world’s most appealing fruits and a precious ally for our health at the same time. It is a member of the “banana” family Musaceae, which includes a wide variety of different banana types, some of which would surprise the American and European consumers if they had the chance to taste them, as they are rare and extremely delicious. In fact, most of us know and consume the Cavendish type of banana, easily found at the supermarkets and this is due to the fact that Cavendish bananas can be maintained fresh more easily after cutting them from the banana tree. Unfortunately, all other types of bananas are extremely sensitive, and they ripen too fast to find them everywhere, apart from the local markets where they are produced. However, if you are world’s travelers, do not miss the chance to taste them wherever you find them! Cuban and Colorado’s bananas have a unique brown-red color and Lactatan type of bananas -also known as Gatsakos- are very sweet and they are originated from the Philippines. Manganos are natural apple flavored bananas while Burros’ natural flavor is banana-lemon! The original Greek bananas are cultivated in Crete and Peloponnese (in Kalamata and in Corinth) and they are baby bananas, sweet in taste with a unique vanilla-banana natural flavor. Planted bananas, the Musa balbisiana type, are the ancestors of the common banana and you can find them in the markets of Indonesia.

 

 

Eat the greens too.

Green bananas are simply the yellow ones which are still unripe. It is absolutely safe for us to consume them, but it is preferable to cook them first unlike the yellow bananas.
In general, bananas are harvested while they are still green so that the producer to ensure that when we buy them are still fresh and suitable for us to consume them. Thus, we can easily find both green and yellow bananas at the supermarkets. Besides the color, green and yellow bananas have a few other differences, concerning their texture, taste and composition. Green bananas are actually more bitter than yellows, their “flesh” is firmer and contain a greater amount of starch, which is transformed to carbohydrates as the banana becomes yellow.
Nutritionally, both green and yellow bananas are good sources of fiber, hydrocarbons, minerals, and vitamins. However, green bananas contain a high percentage of resistant starch, which is a type of starch that our digestive system cannot metabolize, thus it acts more like fiber than a high molecular weight hydrocarbon. The green bananas are also a very good source of vitamin B6 and Potassium. However, we must always keep in mind that not all people are allowed to consume high potassium concentrated foods. Thus if your blood potassium level is high or you suffer from a heart or kidney disease, you should always ask your nutritionist or doctor before adding bananas on your daily diet. Finally, green bananas are rich in a fiber called pectin, which is responsible for diminishing our appetite and that’s is why the green banana is considered to be a key-food when we are on a diet.

 

From green to yellow, turning black.

As green bananas ripen, the first chemical reaction that takes place is the transformation of their resistant starch to dihydrates such as sucrose and finally to mono carbohydrates (aka sugars), such as glucose and fructose. At the final stage of this maturing process, all ripen black bananas end up containing less than 1% of resistant starch, while greens’ percentage is higher than 70%. Additionally, the pectin of the green bananas, which is the main ingredient that keeps their structural form hard, breaks down as they become yellow and that is the reason why yellow bananas are soft and creamy.

The yellow bananas raw nutrition facts and calories.

The yellow bananas are beneficial for human health as there are good sources of many important nutrients and micronutrients. A medium sized yellow banana of about 225 grams contains 93% hydrocarbons, 3% fat and 4% proteins and its Estimated Glycemic Load is 18. Additional nutrition facts are:

Calories:

200 (837 kJ) - From Carbohydrate 186 (779 kJ), From Fat 6.2 (26.0 kJ), From Protein 8.2 (34.3 kJ

Fiber:

3.1 grams

Vitamins:

Vitamin A 144 IU, Vitamin C 19.6 mg, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol) 0.2 mg, Vitamin K 1.1 mcg, Thiamin 0.1 mg, Riboflavin 0.2 mg, Niacin 1.5 mg, Vitamin B6 0.8 mg, Folate 45.0 mcg, Pantothenic acid 0.8 mg, Choline 22.0 mg, Betaine 0.2 mg.

Amino acids:

Tryptophan 20.2 mg, Threonine 63.0 mg, Isoleucine 63.0 mg, Leucine 153 mg, Lysine 112 mg, Methionine 18.0 mg, Cystine 20.2 mg, Phenylalanine 110 mg, Tyrosine 20.2 mg, Valine 106 mg, Arginine 110 mg, Histidine 173 mg, Alanine 90 mg, Aspartic acid 279 mg, Glutamic acid 342 mg, Glycine 85.5 mg, Proline 63 mg, Serine 90 mg.

Carbohydrates:

Starch 12.1 g, Sugars 27.5 g, Sucrose 5377 mg, Glucose 11204 mg, Fructose 10912 mg, Maltose 22.5 mg.

Minerals:

Calcium 11.3 mg, Iron 0.6 mg, Magnesium 60.8 mg, Phosphorus 49.5 mg, Potassium 806 mg, Sodium 2.3 mg, Zinc 0.3 mg, Copper 0.2 mg, Manganese 0.6 mg, Selenium 2.3 mcg, Fluoride 5.0 mcg.

Other:

Phytosterols 36 mg, Saturated fat 0.3 g, Water 169 g.

 

Health benefits of the banana fruit

Bananas are beneficial for heart health.

Rich in potassium, minerals, and electrolytes, these yellow sweet fruits help us to maintain “electricity” through our bodies, which is essential for the heart to work properly. Furthermore, potassium is very important for our veins’ and arteries’ health, as a low potassium diet can lead to arteriosclerosis according to scientists. On the other hand, bananas have low sodium content which means that they do not increase our blood pressure when consumed.

Bananas keep our bones healthy.

Apart from their high potassium content, bananas also have calcium. Still this is not the exact reason for them to be beneficial for our bones, as they are not the best calcium source we can find in nature. It is the fructoligosaccharides they contain that help our intestine’s good bacteria to act as prebiotics leading to increasing the calcium absorption in our body at the end.

Bananas can improve digestive health.

Despite the fact that bananas can protect us from colon cancer, there are other numerous evidence that they are beneficial for our digestive system in many ways. In fact, the main banana ingredients such as resistant starch and pectin do not break down at all into our intestine. They feed our digestive system’s friendly bacteria to help them produce short chain fatty acids which are in fact beneficial for our health. Additionally, bananas, and especially the green ones, seem to have a prebiotic effect. Being of high percentage in fibers, they can help our digestive system work properly every day.

Weight loss and bananas

Bananas can be a very helpful and comforting food during the periods we are on a diet, due to that fact that they are high percentage fiber concentrated. A medium sized banana can provide us the 10 percent of our daily fiber requirement. Fibers along with pectin and resistant starch, are capable of slowing down the feeling of emptiness in our stomach so that we eat less and gain fewer calories. Furthermore, banana itself is a very sweet and filling food that promotes satiety in our stomach, that is why in dietetics is characterized as an “appetite reducing food”

When working out

When we go to the gym, we should always be aware that eating a banana afterward is the best natural way to replenish our electrolytes. In fact, this can be more effective than drinking all those artificial sports drinks. According to a clinical study published in 2012 in PLOS One, male long-distance cycling runners where tested on their performance and body physiology. Half of them were given a sports drink after training while the other half ate a banana while drinking water. The research proved that the performance time and the physiology of their body were the same in both groups, but due to the serotonin and dopamine of the bananas, the athletes of the second group performed better. The conclusion of the research is that bananas increased the antioxidant capacity, while reducing the oxidative stress of the cycle runners, thus they are preferable to a sports drink when training.

Green bananas can protect us from type 2 diabetes.

Having high blood sugar is a health problem of major concern. Nowadays, type 2 diabetes continues to spread unaccountably to the world’s population, with 1 out of 11 adults suffering from it worldwide. Unfortunately, it is the leading cause of death for approximately 7,000,000 people per year worldwide and it is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events, renal failure, neuropathy, permanent retinal damage, and other serious complications. Thus, we should always be very careful when it concerns our nutrition to protect ourselves from such kind of diseases as much as we can. Concerning bananas, it is a common belief that it is forbidden to be consumed by diabetes 2 suffers due to their sweet taste. Actually, this is a kind of urban myth. Bananas, and especially the green ones may help us control the blood sugar levels, especially if we consume them after a meal.

Bananas can improve our vision.

Carrots are supposed to be the best choices for eye health. Or so they say… because in fact, bananas do a very good job on this matter! Bananas are a reliable source of vitamin A and Phosphorus for a fruit, which is essential for protecting our eye from diseases, such as the Aged-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Furthermore, according to clinical researches, bananas can maintain our vision in good condition in general, or even improve our ability to see in the dark.

Bananas are mood makers.

Thanks to Tryptophan that they contain, bananas can cheer us up! Tryptophan is an amino acid that converts to serotonin in our cells, which is the mood regulator hormone and that is the reason for considering bananas as a natural antidepressant. Additionally, Vitamin B6 and all the vitamins of the B complex in general, act as natural relaxing factors, that helps our nervous system function well, improve our mood, help us sleep better and decrease our stress levels.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding

Besides the fact that bananas contain plenty of vitamins and minerals, as mentioned above, they can protect the pregnant woman from gestational diabetes. On the other hand, insomnia is a very common phenomenon during pregnancy and banana’s magnesium and tryptophan probably can help deal with it.

Health risks from bananas

In general, the biggest health risk we have to deal concerning bananas is slipping on the banana peel! However, there are mentioned a few side effects if we eat too many, we should be aware of:
• To start with, bananas and especially green ones can be indigestible for some people. They could cause symptoms like bloating, gas, constipation or even pain.
• Apart from being allergic to one or more banana’s constituents, concerning bananas there exists a weird syndrome known as “latex-fruit syndrome.” Thus, if one is allergic to latex, it is very possible that we are allergic to bananas too, due to the fact that both of them contain similar kinds of proteins.
• It is a rare fact but true that bananas may trigger headaches or sleepiness, caused by its amino acids diluted in our blood. Especially high doses of tryptophan in combination with magnesium could turn us sleepy and relaxes our muscles to a superlative degree.
• A sugary fruit consumed without dental hygiene afterward definitely causes tooth decay.

We should always have in mind that health problems with bananas start from overconsuming them. According to USDA the ideal quantity for an adult to consume is two bananas per day. If we consume more than 43 bananas in a few days the Potassium and B6 levels will increase in the blood that can provoke us hyperkalemia and hypervitaminosis leading to muscle weakness, damages to our nerve system and cardiac arrhythmia.

Other banana facts

Interesting facts we should know about bananas are:
• The first plant ever cultivated by humans on earth was the banana plant, as there is evidence that the first bananas were cultivated in New Guinea at 8000 B.C. The plant is classified as an arborescent perennial herb. The weirdest fact is that the banana fruit is considered a berry in Botany. Banana producers name the bunch of bananas a “hand” and a single banana a “finger”.
• Banana peels are edible too! In fact, they are full of proteins, minerals, polyphenols, carotenoids, and vitamins, vitamin B12 included, thus it can be an extremely healthy snack especially for the vegans. American and European people do not usually eat them, but in some Asian countries the banana peels are always consumed, usually boiled or fried. If one decides to taste the peel, they should remember to wash it very carefully. A raw banana peel is not very sweet even if it is ripened, so a good idea is to put it on the blender and mix it with other fruits.
• Generally, the differences between bananas and plantains are very few. The word banana is referred to the sweet fruit which is actually eaten raw while a plantain is the starchier form of the fruit which we usually cook before eating it.
• There are certain types of bananas in Asia which have seeds and are poisonous for humans to eat
• Bananas are cultivated in many countries around the world with Ecuador to be the production leader worldwide

Mediterranean (Greek) Vegan Banana Recipes.

1. Stir- fry banana peels

Stir-fry banana peels are a delicious “meze” (aka Greek finger food to be shared with friends on special moments) to accompany the ouzo or Cretan raki.

Ingredients:

3 bananas
¼ teaspoon of fresh garlic
2 tablespoons of red onion
3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil.
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
Natural Mediterranean Sea salt and/or fresh lemon juice – depending on one’s taste.

Instructions:

• Boil the bananas until they become soft enough to be forged by the fork.
• Take out the banana peels.
• Remove the outer fiber layer from the banana peels and chop the rest of the peel.
• Use a frying pan to heat the olive oil and add the mustard seeds, the garlic and the onions. Fry for a few minutes.
• Add the chopped banana peels and fry for about 5 min.
• Add the spices and cook for another 1 min while
• You can serve with sea salt or fresh lemon, depending on your taste and mood. Accompany it with ouzo, raki or

Nutritional value

100g of stir-fry banana peels contain:
Energy: 80kcal
Sodium: 200mg (8% DV)
Protein: 1g (2% DV)
Carbs: 14g (5% DV)
Fiber: 2g (8% DV)
Fat: 2,5g (4%)

2. Banana Peel Halva

The banana peel Halva is a delicate dessert for all occasions, better served with afternoon tea or coffee. In Greece, halwa is a very famous traditional dessert and there exist many different types of it, such as with tahini, corn flour or semolina. The banana peel is a modern version of halva, that the vegans prefer best, as the banana peel contains naturally a great amount of vitamin B12.

Ingredients:

6 normal sized bananas
10 cashew nuts
2 tablespoons of yellow raisins
3 tablespoons of sugar (brown is preferable)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1/10 teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon of corn flour

Instructions:

• Wash the bananas properly and peel them off. Cut off the hard ends of the peels.
• Boil the peels for at least 5 min until they become tender.
• Use the blender to smash the peels and make a soft puree. Use a deep frypan (wok-like), add sugar and once it is turned to caramel add one tablespoon of coconut oil and stir for a few minutes.
• Within the caramel, add the puree, the cardamom, and the raisins. Stir for a few minutes.
• Heat the coconut oil and fry the cashew nuts. Add the into the puree too.
• Once the mixture starts to leave the sides of the frypan, add the second tablespoon of coconut oil and stir.
• Remove the mixture from heat, put it on a form and leave it to reach the room temperature.
• It is served with a bit of cinnamon powder on top.

Nutritional value

100g of banana peel halva contains:
Energy: 540 kcal
Sodium: 5mg (0% DV)
Protein: 4g (8% DV)
Carbs: 114g (38% DV)
Fiber: 12g (48% DV)
Fat: 10g (15%)

3. Banana Peel Cake

Like the banana peel halwa, the cake is an “all occasions” healthy dessert. It is full of vitamin B12 and children adore it!

Ingredients:

4 medium-sized bananas
2 orange juice
The zest from the orange peel.
100g brown sugar.
100g white sugar
50g extra-virgin olive oil
150g almond milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon Chios’ mastic gum
¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
500g cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

Instructions:

• Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius degrees.
• Wash the bananas properly and dry them with soft fabric. Then peel the bananas and cut off the hard parts.
• Smash the banana fruit to make a puree. (If you do not want your puree to turn brown just add a few drops of lemon juice in it.)
• Cut the peels into pieces and grind in the food processor at the top speed, along with the olive oil, the brown and white sugar, the almond milk, the vanilla extract, and the mastic, until you get a homogeneous thick liquid.
• Add the banana puree, the cinnamon, the orange juice and the orange zest and mix well.
• Add the baking powder into the cake flour.
• Add the flour slowly into the mixture and stir gently until the mixture becomes homogeneous.
• Put the mixture into a form and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool. It can be served as it is or with extra snow sugar on top, depending on ones’ taste

Nutritional value:

100g of banana peel cake contains:
Energy: 520kcal
Sodium: 810mg (38% DV)
Protein: 7g (12% DV)
Carbs: 170g (56% DV)
Fiber: 9g (36% DV)
Fat: 9g (14%)

4. Banana peel vinegar

One of the healthiest versions of vinegar is made from the banana peels. We can use it on raw salads, mixed with olive oil or add it to sweet and sour sauces to highlight the taste and the aroma of our food.

Ingredients:

1kg banana peels
10 teacups of water
1teacup of vinegar
½ teaspoon of bake yeast
1 teacup of white sugar

Instructions:

• Chop the peels in small pieces and boil them into 5 cups of water.
• Filter the banana peel juice through a cheesecloth.
• Add the rest 5 cups of water and the sugar. Heat for 15 min at 65ο C
• Transfer the juice at a sterilized container.
• When it reaches the room temperature, add ½ teaspoon for every 8 cups of the juice.
• Allow the yeast to ferment for a week.
• Filter once more.
• Add one cup of vinegar for every 4 cups of the juice.
• Allow fermenting again for at least 2-3 weeks, until the juice gets the characteristic odor of vinegar
• After the 2-3 weeks maturing procedure, heat at 60ο C for 5 minutes and filter once more.
• Let the vinegar age for a month to achieve the best quality.
• It is preferable to store the vinegar on a brown glass bottle

Nutritional value:

100g of banana peel vinegar contain:
Energy: 520kcal
Sodium: 25mg (1% DV)
Protein: 3g (6% DV)
Carbs: 133g (44% DV)
Fiber: 8g (32% DV)

5. Banana Biscuits

Ingredients:

3 medium-sized bananas
1 teacup of almond milk
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 ½ teacups of white flour.
1 tablespoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon Chios’ mastic gum
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract.

Instructions:

• Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius degrees.
• Smash the bananas to make a puree
• Use a large bowl to mix the banana puree with the almond milk and the olive oil
• Premix the flour and the baking powder. Then add it into the puree.
• Place the dough on a floured surface and use a rolling pin to make a 0,5 cm thick dough layer. Use a tin can or a cutter to give biscuits the shape you like.
• Bake the biscuits for 20 min.

Nutritional value:

A banana biscuit contains:
Energy: 70 kcal
Sodium: 50mg (2% DV)
Protein: 2g (4% DV)
Carbs: 14g (5% DV)
Fat: 1g (2% DV)
Fiber: 1g (3% DV)

6. Banana Mousse

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized bananas, peeled and cubed
2 ripe avocados
¼ teacup cacao powder
¼ teacup coconut milk
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

• Use a blender to mix all the ingredients.
• Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
• Serve with chopped nuts and/or chocolate syrup on top

Nutritional value:

100g banana mousse contains:
Energy: 260 kcal
Sodium: 10mg (0% DV)
Protein: 3g (6% DV)
Carbs: 28g (9% DV)
Fat: 18g (26% DV)
Fiber: 9g (36% DV)

7. Banana Dog Bites

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized bananas
¼ teacup tahini (sesame butter)
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
2 tortillas

Instructions:

• Place the tortilla on a flat surface and spread 1 tablespoon of tahini on top. Then add a bit of cinnamon depending on your taste
• Place the banana at the edge of the tortilla and roll it up
• Slice into small bites.
• It can be served with vegan wiped cream and caramel syrup.

Nutritional value:

100g banana dog bites contain:
Energy: 260 kcal
Sodium: 300mg (13% DV)
Protein: 7g (14% DV)
Carbs: 35g (12% DV)
Fat: 11g (17% DV)
Fiber: 4g (16% DV)

8. Banana Chips

Ingredients:

4 medium-sized bananas
2 lemon juice
2 teacups water
Sea salt (optional)
Cinnamon powder (optional)

Instructions:

• Peel the bananas and slice them very thin.
• Place them for a minute in a bowl with lemon and water to prevent bananas from turning brown.
• Use the dehydrator for 2 hours or bake at 170ο C for 2 hours
• They can be served either with sea salt as a snack or with cinnamon on top as a dessert.

Nutritional value:

100g banana chips contain:
Energy: 35 kcal
Sodium: 200mg (8% DV)
Carbs: 10g (3% DV)
Fiber: 2g (8% DV)

9. Banana Pillows

This is the typical Greek banana pie, usually consumed during branch. It is delicious and easy to make. The kids adore it! In this recipe the pastry sheet is frozen, but it is always preferable to make one. We can also use the same recipe as in apple pie for the pastry sheet.

Ingredients:

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
4 medium-sized bananas
½ teacup sunflower oil
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons vegan wiped cream
Snow sugar and cinnamon for the top

Instructions:

• Preheat the oven to 180ο C
• Unroll gently the puff sheet and cut it into 5-inch squares. Bake the squares until they become golden (about 12 min) and then set them aside to rich the room temperature
• Peel and slice the bananas on the diagonal.
• Place the sunflower oil, the brown sugar and the vanilla extract in a fry pan. Cook and stir until the mixture begins to boil. Add the vegan cream.
• Remove the cream from heat and add the bananas.
• Fill the pillows with banana mixture.
• They can be served with snow sugar and cinnamon on top.

Nutritional value:

100g banana pillows contain:
Energy: 410 kcal
Sodium: 170mg (7% DV)
Fat: 28g (43% DV)
Protein: 2g (4% DV)
Carbs: 42g (14% DV)
Fiber: 4g (16% DV)

10. Banana Pancakes.

These are probably the easiest and most delicious pancakes you have ever made!

Ingredients:

1 medium sized banana
1 teacup of almond milk
1 teacup of oatmeal
½ teaspoon baking powder

Instructions:

• Blend all the ingredients together
• Cook the banana pancakes on a griddle heated to medium for about 2-3 minutes on each side.

Nutritional value:

100g banana pancakes contain:
Energy: 100 kcal
Sodium: 60mg (3% DV)
Fat: 3g (5% DV)
Protein: 5g (10% DV)
Carbs: 14g (5% DV)
Fiber: 2g (8% DV)

Until the nextt article...bon appetit!

Lacona!

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