Bananas come in their own perfect package, so there's no mess, no fuss -- they're the perfect take-along snack. No wonder they're one of the most popular fruits in the United States. Admittedly higher in calories than most other fruits, their calories are nearly fat-free calories.
Bananas are ideal for people looking to lose or maintain weight through sound nutrition, while also giving the body sustenance for daily strength and fitness. Bananas offer the body carbohydrates -- its main source of energy -- and provide a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and fiber. Bananas offer an amazing fat-free package of natural energy, minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
Bananas are loaded with potassium, and researchers state that adding potassium may play a stronger role in the control of high blood pressure than restricting salt. Bananas also have a lot of magnesium, a mineral that helps keep blood pressure levels in check.
Generally, fruit is a poor source of vitamin B6, but bananas are the exception; a single serving has more than 30 percent of the recommended daily amount. Vitamin B6 helps to keep your immune system performing at its peak, and recent studies have found that, like a deficiency of folic acid, a long-term deficiency of vitamin B6 may increase your risk of heart disease.
Selection and Storage
There are different types of bananas, but Cavendish, the yellow bananas, are the most familiar. To appeal to a variety of cultures, supermarkets sometimes stock red bananas and plantains -- those seemingly underripe bananas that never lose their mossy green color.
Most bananas ripen after picking, and as they do, the starch in them turns to sugar. So the riper they are, the sweeter they are. Look for plump, firm bananas with no bruises or split skins. Brown spots are a sign of ripening. If your banana skins are tinged with green, allow them to ripen at room temperature (don't refrigerate unripe bananas; they'll never ripen); refrigerate them once they are ripe to stop the process. They'll turn an unsightly, but harmless, black color.
Preparation and Serving Tips
Yellow bananas are great on their own, but when mashed, they make a great low-fat, nutrient-packed spread for toasted bagels. Sprinkle lemon juice on banana slices to keep them from darkening. To salvage bananas that are too ripe, combine them in a blender with orange juice and fat-free milk or vanilla nonfat yogurt for a healthful smoothie -- a great take-along treat for dashboard dining. For the kids, try frozen banana pops: Peel and cut a banana in half; insert a craft stick into each half. Dip the bananas into orange juice, roll them in wheat germ, and freeze them until they are firm.
Dieters need to get the biggest bang for the buck by eating foods that are full of nutrients but not high in calories. As a nutrient-dense and fat-free food, bananas are a perfect choice for dieters.
Bananas provide both energy and nutrition without fat, making them a great weight-loss food.