A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

One banana, two banana: Healthful reasons to eat this dietary staple

Image of woman cutting up a banana

When it comes to the most popular fruit we eat, bananas are No. 1. Try this healthy, tasty recipe.

When it comes to the most popular fruit we eat, bananas are No. 1.

“The banana is the most popular fruit, available all year long and packed with good nutrition,” said Chrisanne Urban, a Marshfield Clinic Health System dietitian. “On average, Americans eat 27 pounds of bananas a year so that’s a lot of bananas.”

After rice, wheat and corn, bananas are the fourth most popular dietary staple food, Urban explained, “and are known as the fruit of the wise man.

“There is no season for bananas, like other fruits, since they’re available all year. What makes them so available is that six months after planting, bananas are ready to harvest because they’re grown in warmer, more tropical climates. India is the top producer of bananas, followed by Uganda, China and the Philippines. The only state in our country that produces bananas is Hawaii.”

The banana plant, considered an herb like lilies, orchids and palm, is actually classified as a berry and with 100 varieties.

Bananas are a really convenient snack food and are fat- and cholesterol-free and rich in potassium, providing 10 percent of your recommended potassium for the day. It’s also loaded with essential nutrients, many vitamins and minerals. Considered mainly a carbohydrate, one medium-size banana roughly has 89 calories, 1.1g of protein, 22.8g of carbs, .3g of fat and 2.6g of fiber; and 75 percent of a banana, like most fruits, is water.

“As a dietitian, one question I get many times is ‘can I eat bananas because they raise blood sugars?’” Urban said. “My response is that you can include bananas in your diet in moderation because they are a low-glycemic index food. Monitor your intake and don’t go bananas on them!”

Urban’s also learned there’s a better way to peel a banana. Hold it from the stem and peel from the bottom up. “If you peel it that way you avoid the strings,” she advised.

Additional banana tips include:

  • Wrapping the stem ends in plastic wrap since that could help preserve them three to five days longer.
  • Putting them in the refrigerator but don’t worry about the skin turning brown since colder temps won’t affect the fruit.
  • Considering when to purchase bananas because it takes several days for them to ripen since they’re picked green.

Urban suggested that when you’re in the mood for a different twist on bananas, try this fun, easy smoothie recipe.

Cinnamon Strawberry Smoothie

Prep time: 5 minutes

Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 small ripe banana
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 6-ounce container vanilla nonfat Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

Place all ingredients in blender container; cover. Blend on high speed until smooth.

Pour into glasses. Garnish with sliced strawberries, if desired.

Nutrition information

Each serving contains about 196 calories; 0g total fat; 0mg cholesterol; 40mg sodium; 40g carbohydrates; 3g fiber; and 9g protein.

Source: McCormick

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