The banana plant, often erroneously referred to as a “tree”, is a large herb, with succulent, very juicy stem (properly “pseudostem”) which is a cylinder of leaf-petiole sheaths, reaching a height of 20 to 25 ft (6-7.5 m) and arising from a fleshy rhizome or corm. Suckers spring up around the main plant forming a clump or “stool”, the eldest sucker replacing the main plant when it fruits and dies, and this process of succession continues indefinitely. Tender, smooth, oblong or elliptic, fleshy-stalked leaves, numbering 4 or 5 to 15, are arranged spirally. They unfurl, as the plant grows, at the rate of one per week in warm weather, and extend upward and outward, becoming as much as 9 ft (2.75 m) long and 2 ft (60 cm) wide. They may be entirely green, green with maroon splotches, or green on the upperside and red purple beneath. The inflorescence, a transformed growing point, is a terminal spike shooting out from the heart in the tip of the stem. At first, it is a large, long-oval, tapering, purple-clad bud. As it opens, it is seen that the slim, nectar-rich, tubular, toothed, white flowers are clustered in whorled double rows along the floral stalk, each cluster covered by a thick, waxy, hoodlike bract, purple outside, deep-red within. Normally, the bract will lift from the first hand in 3 to 10 days. If the plant is weak, opening may not occur until 10 or 15 days. Female flowers occupy the lower 5 to 15 rows; above them may be some rows of hermaphrodite or neuter flowers; male flowers are borne in the upper rows. In some types the inflorescence remains erect but generally, shortly after opening, it begins to bend downward. In about one day after the opening of the flower clusters, the male flowers and their bracts are shed, leaving most of the upper stalk naked except at the very tip where there usually remains an unopened bud containing the last-formed of the male flowers. However, there are some mutants such as ‘Dwarf Cavendish’ with persistent male flowers and bracts which wither and remain, filling the space between the fruits and the terminal bud.
As the young fruits develop from the female flowers, they look like slender green fingers. The bracts are soon shed and the fully grown fruits in each cluster become a “hand” of bananas, and the stalk droops with the weight until the bunch is upside down. The number of “hands” varies with the species and variety.
The fruit (technically a “berry”) turns from deep-green to yellow or red, or, in some forms, green-and white-striped, and may range from 2 1/2 to 12 in (6.4-30 cm) in length and 3/4 to 2 in (1.9-5 cm) in width, and from oblong, cylindrical and blunt to pronouncedly 3-angled, somewhat curved and hornlike. The flesh, ivory-white to yellow or salmon-yellow, may be firm, astringent, even gummy with latex, when unripe, turning tender and slippery, or soft and mellow or rather dry and mealy or starchy when ripe. The flavor may be mild and sweet or subacid with a distinct apple tone. Wild types may be nearly filled with black, hard, rounded or angled seeds 1/8 to 5/8 in (3-16 mm) wide and have scant flesh. The common cultivated types are generally seedless with just minute vestiges of ovules visible as brown specks in the slightly hollow or faintly pithy center, especially when the fruit is overripe. Occasionally, cross-pollination by wild types will result in a number of seeds in a normally seedless variety such as ‘Gros Michel’, but never in the Cavendish type.
1. High Fibre Content
Banana is loaded with fibre, both soluble and insoluble. The soluble fiber has the tendency to slow down digestion and keep you feeling full for a longer time. Which is why bananas are often included in a breakfast meal so that you can start about your day without having to worry about the next meal.
2. Heart Health
High fibre foods are said to be good for the heart. According to a study done by University of Leeds in UK, increasing the consumption of fibre-rich foods such as bananas can lower the risk of both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD).
3. Ease in Digestion
According to Ayurveda, banana has a sweet and sour taste. The sweet taste is said to bring about a sense of heaviness but the sour taste is known to stimulate agni (the digestive juices), thereby supporting digestion and helping in building up metabolism.
4. Powerhouse of Nutrients
Banana is a heavyweight when it comes to nutrition. It is loaded with essential vitaminsand minerals such as potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, folate, niacin, riboflavin, and B6. These all contribute to the proper functioning of the body and keeping you healthy.
5. High Source Of Potassium
The high content of potassium in bananas makes it a super fruit. This mineral is known for its numerous health benefiting properties – it helps in regulating heartbeat, blood pressure, and keeps the brain alert. So make sure you add bananas to your daily to keep your heart and brain healthy, plus for more stabled blood pressure.
6. Blood Pressure
It is a known fact that salt is the culprit when it comes to high blood pressure. Bananas have low salt content and high potassium content, and these properties contribute to making it an ideal for those undergoing this condition. But make sure you consult your nutritionist or doctor before you add it o your diet.
7. Helps Fight Anaemia
Due to the high iron content in bananas, they are good for those suffering from anaemia. Anaemia is a condition where there is a decrease in the number of red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood. This leads to fatigue, shortness of breath, and paleness. But, as we always say that moderation is the key.
One serving of banana is considered to be about 126 grams. One serving of banana contains 110 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of protein. Bananas are naturally free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium.