Bananas are easily one of the most widely-known and easily-recognisable fruits in the world. Chances are, no matter where you go, you’d see bananas in grocery stores, sold at markets, or included in popular local dishes. This boomerang-shaped fruit is one of the top 5 most-consumed fruits alongside tomatoes, mangoes, apples and oranges. And it’s easy to see why they’re so popular since it’s loaded with nutrients and each comes in a convenient free carrying case that you can just grab and go!
You might say we’re bananas for bananas. And you’d be right.
Take a moment to picture your perfect banana. What is your preferred ripeness? Maybe you thought of a soft and sweet banana with tiny brown spots. Or you might have imagined a heartier banana with a light green peel. The taste, texture, and colour of bananas change as they ripen. For that reason, everyone seems to have their own preference of what the perfect banana really is. But, did you know that the nutritional content of bananas also changes as they age?
Let's have a look into what nutritional changes happens as it ripens.
These bananas are harder, has a slight bitter taste and full of "resistant" starch. This starch form takes longer to digest and will fill you up easily. The downside is that it might make you feel gassy/bloated. The starch also contributes to its waxy texture. However, the green bananas have a lower glycemic index as the starch has not been converted into sugars so your digestive system has to do it on its own, raising your blood sugar levels slowly.
These bananas are softer and sweeter as starch has been broken down into sugar. While the yellow variety is higher on the glycemic index, they are actually easier to digest. With less starch to break down, your digestive system will absorb the nutrients quicker! There are some micronutrients loss as the bananas ripen but it is compensated with more antioxidants.
The classic bruised bananas. These bananas are older and sweeter as the brown spots indicate how much starch has been converted to sugar. But these brown spots should be seen as tiny immunity system boosters, because spotted bananas are so rich in antioxidants that they have been linked to cancer prevention!
Freeze Dried Bananas
Did you know freeze dried bananas holds up to 90% of their original nutritional content? The fruits are often dried when it is yellow or slightly spotted. This means that frozen and freeze-dried fruit are often more nutrient-dense than their fresh counterparts because they are harvested while in-season and immediately flash-frozen or freeze-dried to lock in all of its good-for-you nutrients! You can still get your daily dose of vitamin C, vitamin A, and other essential nutrients without having to always have fresh fruit on hand. More importantly, you get the intense flavours and natural sweetness of the banana in products that have a longer shelf life. Knowing this, we have incorporated freeze dried bananas in our Chocolate Banana Goodness Bowl and dehydrated bananas in our Banana Bread Granola so that you can get the full benefit of these awesome fruits!
What other Bana-nefits (banana benefits) can you get?
Bananas contain many important nutrients which is why it is hailed as a superfood. Among them are:
Potassium: Good for your heart health and helps lower blood pressure.
Manganese: Can increase your metabolic rate.
Vitamin B6: Bananas are actually one of the best fruit sources for this, providing up to a quarter of your recommended daily intake (RDI) with just a medium sized banana.
Magnesium: Good for your skin. A medium-sized banana provides approximately 13% of your RDI.
Vitamin C: Protects your body against cell and tissue damage, and helps your body absorb iron better.
How different cultures in Asia use Bananas in their cuisines.
Let’s take a look at all the different ways the banana is eaten around Asia.
In the Philippines, a common condiment is Banana Ketchup! Made of mashed bananas, sugar, vinegar, and spices, it is used the way plain tomato ketchup is used. It is sweet and tangy, and remarkably similar to tomato ketchup. How interesting!
Picture by Bottom Feeder
There is also Banana Cue which are deep fried bananas coated in caramelised brown sugar skewered on a bamboo stick! Sold on the streets, it is a delight for people with a sweet tooth!
Picture by Explore by Traveloka
In Indonesia, bananas slices are added into Nagasari, a traditional steamed rice cake wrapped in a banana leaf, giving it a fragrant aroma!
Picture by Asian Inspirations
Throughout the region, there are different varieties of Banana Fritters. Ripened bananas are vertically sliced and dipped in a batter before deep frying. These are called Pisang Goreng (Malaysia), Kluay Kaek (Thailand) and Pazham Pori (India). Eaten as an easy teatime snack or dessert.
Picture by Asian Inspirations
It is fascinating to see so many ways bananas are used around the world! Not a surprise there given how nutritious this fruit is and how accessible they are everywhere.
Here are some tips to keep your bananas fresh longer:
- Hang them away from other produce!
- Wrap the stems in plastic wrap.
- Once they ripen, pop them in the fridge.
If they do get overripe, banana bread is always a good idea! We have a recipe up on Graze Academy for banana bread so do check it out!