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How To Select The Best Bananas From The Supermarket
Some facts about bananas
The original banana has been cultivated since ancient times even before the cultivation of rice. It is believed that the banana originated in East Asia, and also thrived in the warm climates of Africa.
Bananas were first transported by sailors to the Canary Islands before finally making it to North America via a Spanish Missionary a few hundred years ago.
Most of the bananas available in the US today are grown in Latin America and the Caribbean areas. However, bananas are also grown in certain warm areas of the US including Hawaii, Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas.
Many people do not know that bananas are actually perennial herbs which means they are not limited to one growing season. Although often referred to as a banana tree, what appears to be a tree trunk is not a trunk at all. It is actually many leaves wrapped round and round a single stem which emerges at the top as a fruit-bearing stalk.
Studies have shown bananas to be the best-selling fruit worldwide, out-pacing even apples and oranges.
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Choosing the best bananas
Bananas tend to ripen to ripen very quickly and can go from slightly green to ripe and yellow in 3 or 4 days. Some excellent advice from food specialists is to buy bananas with the time frame you have in mind when you actually want to use them.
For immediate use, bananas which are firm and yellow in color with a few brown spots, will be the best choice. These are already ripe or will be ripe within a day.
For use at a later time, opt for those which are mostly yellow with a bit of green at both ends. These bananas will last longer if you only plan to use them in about 4 days or so.
Some things to look out for when buying and storing bananas:
- Bananas ripen extremely fast, so always opt for those without blemishes, soft spots, or skin that is mostly black. The fruit inside will probably be bruised and not so good to eat.
- Firm with intact stems and tips will be best.
- Always look for those which are mostly free of bruises on the skin.
- If a banana does not peel easily, it is more than likely still green, and should be left to ripen for a day or two. People have reported that bananas left to ripen often have a better texture and taste than others might.
- Store bananas at room temperature although they can be kept in a fridge for a short time. The skin will discolour from the cold, but the fruit inside will not be affected.
- Some tests by the food fraternity have revealed that bananas can be frozen for up to 2 months. Simply peel, seal in a plastic bag, and put in the freezer.
Bananas, like most fruits, will vary in size. Choose the sizes that will suit your appetite and also what you want to use them for.
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The health benefits of bananas
Bananas are almost always available, and are known to provide instant energy which is why athletes like tennis players will eat a banana between games. It is also why they are very common in breakfast menus to kick start your day.
Here are some of the benefits of bananas which support health, and lower your risk of certain serious illnesses.
- The high fiber content can slow down digestion keeping you fuller for a longer, helping you to eat less, and assisting in weight loss.
- Studies have shown that high-fiber foods are good for the heart. Fiber cleans out the colon and helps to lower cholesterol which is a potential risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Bananas are loaded with minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron – as well as a bouquet of essential B vitamins like folate, niacin, riboflavin, and B6. The high levels of potassium, and low content of sodium, helps to steady the heartbeat, controls blood pressure, and stimulates brain function.
- Another important mineral in bananas namely the iron content, increases the red blood cells, lowering the risk of anaemia which may lead to fatigue and low immunity.
These vitamins and minerals all contribute to the proper functioning of the body, creating optimal conditions for good health.
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How to get bananas into your diet
Bananas are very easy to include in your diet. Mostly they are eaten out while held like an apple, but they are also popular in salads, desserts, or baked loaves and muffins.
There are numerous ways to include bananas into foods, and many recipes often call for sliced banana, diced banana, mashed banana, and sometimes even whole bananas.
Here are some popular everyday ways to enjoy bananas, besides just eating fresh.
- Add to recipes for muffins, cakes, and especially banana bread which is by far the most popular baked item containing bananas.
- Always make it part of the breakfast menu by adding to yoghurt, muesli, cereals, or a smoothie.
- Fruit salad is extra tasty when diced bananas are added to the mix.
- A very popular dessert is the banana split trifle made with angel food cake.
- Other favorite desserts include banana bread trifle, baked banana pudding, or a banana cream pie, to name but a few.
- Sliced bananas added to a regular green salad give it a delicious, slightly sweet taste.
- The flavor of some savory dishes like savory rice, chicken, or beef is wonderfully enhanced when you add bananas.
- Curry enthusiasts will tell you that the side dishes to compliment the curry is not complete if freshly sliced banana is not provided.
- For folks who make their own home-made condiments, banana chutney is a favorite.
If you are innovative when cooking then bananas which are available throughout the year, should always be part of your kitchen ingredient supplies. You can use your imagination and experiment with various recipes as you go along.
The humble banana is a powerhouse of nutrition, and getting it into your, and the family’s diets, as often as possible, will be a tremendous health benefit for all.