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Bananas may be nature’s best source of potassium, which is known to be very heart healthy.

About – The banana plant, related to orchids and a family of grasses and ferns, is not a tree, but is actually the world’s largest herb growing 10 to 26 feet in height. It is cultivated mainly for fruit but also for its fibers, which are used in the textile industry. Bananas grow in large clusters of about 15 rows, with each row having a “hand” of about 20 bananas, with the whole cluster having an estimate of 250- 300 bananas.  There are close to 300 varieties of bananas with as few as 20 being cultivated commercially. The most popular are the sweet banana and the plantain and eightly percent of the bananas grown throughout the world are of the plantain variety, which are usually cooked and are an important part of the daily diet to many cultures throughout the world. Sweet bananas come in a variety of sizes, from three to twelve inches, and a variety of colors, including yellow, red, pink, purple and black tones when ripe. In North America only a few varieties are available with Cavendish being the main type. These are a hybrid, the result of a genetic mutation that evolved into a staple food, and which is sterile and thus the lack of seeds in the banana.

Nutrition – Bananas are high in fiber and consist mainly of 3 natural sugars: glucose, fructose and sucrose, which make them ideal for a quick, yet sustained and enduring source of energy. Bananas are high in vitamins A, B complex: thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and folic acid, and also C to a lesser extent, and the minerals: potassium, calcium, magnesium and trace amounts of iron and zinc.  Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid which is converted to serotonin in the body, and makes us happy. Bananas are also an exceptionally rich source of fructo-oligosaccharide, which nourishes the good probiotic bacteria in the colon and also increases our body’s ability to absorb calcium. Bananas are known to be a natural antacid and they contain a protease inhibitor which appears to kill off harmful bacteria. Bananas have a high amount of electrolytes, which helps preventing dehydration by maintaining fluid levels.

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