Posts tagged: banana

When Your Banana Turns Brown

When Your Banana Turns Brown
When Your Banana Turns Brown. Graphic: © herbshealthhappiness.com. Banana photo – Pixabay (PD)

When it comes to keeping the doctor away, bananas and apples go hand in hand. The tropical fruit is loaded with nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, and fiber that support optimal health. The only downside to this super fruit is its relatively short shelf life.

You probably discard your bananas the moment they turn brown. But as it turns out, you’re throwing away the “good stuff.” Wondering what we’re talking about? Read on for evidence-backed health benefits of fully ripe bananas.

Health Benefits of Overripe Bananas

Concerned that the brown spots on your bananas are a sign of going bad? The Greater Chicago Food Depository shows that when your banana turns brown, they’re still safe for consumption – and laden with more health benefits. [1] You should only be concerned when there are traces of mold or strange odors.

According to a 2014 study in the International Food Research Journal, the ripening process in a bananas leads to changes in its chemical composition and antioxidant content. [2] The researcher discovered that the level of sugar content and antioxidants, such as vitamin C was significantly higher in the fully ripened stage. Antioxidants eradicate harmful free radicals and strengthen the immune system – hence helping fight infections and even hinder cancer development. [3]

How to Use Fully Ripe Bananas

Ready to go bananas for ripe bananas? Fully ripe bananas not only taste great, but they’re also great for your body. So next time your bananas turn brown, consider adding them in your cakes, smoothies, baked goods, or even ice cream.

Please note that this content should never be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

References:

[1] The Greater Chicago Food Depository (2019). SALVAGEABLE FRUIT AND VEGETABLE GUIDELINES https://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/SALVAGEABLE_FRUIT_AND_VEGETABLE_GUIDELINES.pdf.

[2] Fernando, H. R. P. et al. 2014. Changes in antioxidant properties and chemical composition during ripening in banana variety ‘Hom Thong’ (AAA group) and ‘Khai’ (AA group) https://search.proquest.com/openview/1b760d990874817658b2984b0e393a19/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=816390.

[3] National Cancer Institute (2019). Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/antioxidants-fact-sheet.

Eating A Banana Can Cheer You Up

Eating A Banana Can Cheer You Up
Graphic: © herbshealthhappiness.com. Image source – Steve Hopson (wikipedia) – lic. under CC 2.5

They’re shaped like a smile, taste like a smile – and it turns out their smile-inducing ability is built into their chemistry…

Bananas are as delicious as they are nutritious. Some studies show that this popular fruit may help with control blood sugar levels, improve digestion, weight loss, and improve heart health, to name a few. [1][2][3][4]

Although the list of potential health benefits is long, of particular interest is a banana’s ability to influence serotonin levels in your brain.

What is Serotonin?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that occurs naturally in the brain. Its main function is to balance mood and facilitate a feeling of well-being. As such, the chemical plays a significant role in the prevention or onset of mental health issues such as stress and depression.

However, certain factors may hinder the optimal production of serotonin in the brain – necessitating supplementation through diet or medication. Bananas are among the natural foods that promote the production of serotonin and influence our feeling of well-being.

The Role of Bananas in Cheering you Up

Bananas contain high levels of L-tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid that converted to 5-HTP – a precursor to serotonin. [5] The fruit is also a rich source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – a nutrient that has been shown to play an important role in brain health and mood regulation. [6]

With this in mind, it’s important to supplement your diet with bananas for a happier and healthier life. A medium-sized banana (118 grams) is packed with vitamin B6 (33% RDI), vitamin C (11% RDI), fiber (1.3 grams), manganese (14% RDI), potassium (9% RDI), and as little as 105 calories.

Please note that this content should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

References:

[1] Schwartz SE. et al. 1988. Sustained pectin ingestion: effect on gastric emptying and glucose tolerance in non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2849298.

[2] Topping DL. et al. 2001. Short-chain fatty acids and human colonic function: roles of resistant starch and nonstarch polysaccharides. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11427691.

[3] Conceição de Oliveira M et al. 2003. Weight loss associated with a daily intake of three apples or three pears among overweight women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12620529.

[4] Seth A. et al. 2014. Potassium intake and risk of stroke in women with hypertension and nonhypertension in the Women’s Health Initiative. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25190445.

[5] Trisha A. Jenkins. et al. 2016. Influence of Tryptophan and Serotonin on Mood and Cognition with a Possible Role of the Gut-Brain Axis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728667/.

[6] WEISSBACH H. et al. 1957. Studies on the effect of vitamin B6 on 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) formation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13462983.

Scientists Find Ripe Banana (with dark patches) Combats Abnormal Cells And Cancer!

Scientists Find Ripe Banana Combats Abnormal Cells Cancer
Scientists Find Ripe Banana (with dark patches) Combats Abnormal Cells And Cancer!
Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com. Photo © Adobe Stock (under license)

Have you seen the “internet rumor” that ripe bananas may have an anti-cancer effect? Well, it looks like there may be truth in the tale: Japanese scientists researching fruits and vegetables and their effects on health have discovered that a substance found in ripe bananas, that has been named Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF-alpha), increases immune capacity; leading to the conclusion that eating ripe bananas has the potential to help prevent lifestyle-related diseases and carcinogenesis. [1]

The amount of TNF-alpha in a banana increases significantly with ripening of the banana – and bananas that have reached the stage of having multiple brown spots are considered up to 8x more effective than those without. The more dark patches, the higher it is thought the beneficial effects.

TNF-alpha is considered to act as an anti-cancer agent by significantly stimulating the production of white blood cells (Leukocytes), which help to fight abnormal tumor cells in the body. Researchers determined that bananas act in a similar fashion to Lentinan, [2] a chemical immune stimulant that is intravenously administered as an anti-cancer agent.

The beneficial effects were found to be more pronounced in Sweetio (a highland banana cultivar) than in Cavendish (a very common commercially available banana), though cavendish bananas did have a significant effect. There are around 300 wild and 20 edible strains of banana. [1]

Among the other fruits and vegetables tested, garlic, ginger, cabbage, eggplant, kiwi, watermelon and grape also revealed marked immunostimulant activity.

Phytochemicals are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants. The study of phytochemicals is of particular interest in the modern age as various phytochemicals have been found by research scientists to play various roles in strengthening the immune system and defending the body against diseases. Whereas earlier research focused on nutrition, the subject of phytochemistry has become more prominent in recent times.

According to Japanese Scientists, ripe bananas (with dark spots on yellow skin) produce a substance named TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor) which acts as a anti-cancer agent by stimulating the production of white blood cells, and helps to fight abnormal tumor cells in the body. Researchers determined that bananas act similar to Lentinan, [2] a chemical immune stimulant that is intravenously administered as an anti-cancer agent.

To increase immune function a protect against disease, it is a great idea to eat 1-2 ripe bananas per day. In general, in is considered that eating whole, fresh, organic vegetables and fruits is better for health than phytochemical-based dietary supplements: According to the American Cancer Society, “Available scientific evidence does not support claims that taking phytochemical supplements is as good for long-term health as consuming the fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains from which they are taken.” [3]

While ripe bananas with yellow skin and brown spots contain more sugar than less-ripe (green-skinned) bananas, it is in the form of natural fructose and therefore much healthier than refined sugar. [4] The carbohydrates in ripe bananas make them the perfect energy boost after or before a workout.

Make sure to avoid bananas with lesions in the skin or otherwise too ripe to eat, as these may be contaminated with bacteria. [5]

Note – this article (as with the rest of the info on this website) is not medical advice. We report on findings from scientific studies however these should not be considered as proof or medicinal recommendation.

On the subject of bananas, here is a recipe for a delicious almond butter and banana paleo / vegan ice cream: https://herbshealthhappiness.com/banana-almond-butter-ice-cream

References:

[1] “Differences in Biological Response Modifier-like Activities According to the Strain and Maturity of Bananas” – Department of Medical Life Chemistry, Japan, 2008. http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/fstr/15/3/15_3_275/_pdf

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22608/

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytochemical

[4] David L. Katz, MD. Nutritional Value of Ripe Bananas. http://www.oprah.com/health/Nutritional-Value-of-Ripe-Bananas

[5] http://www.tis-gdv.de/tis_e/ware/obst/banane/banane.htm