All about bananas: things you should know about the tropical fruit
Uncover 11 interesting facts about one of the world’s most favorite foods
Banana split, banana muffins, banana bread, banana pudding, banana pancakes – whether plain, cooked, baked or fried, bananas are among the most widely consumed fruits on the planet. However, how much do we really know about this most produced and exported fruit?
Here are 11 interesting facts you should know about bananas:
- Based on written references discovered in Sanskrit around the year 500 BC, some horticulturalists believe that bananas were the first fruit on earth. They are one of the most important tropical fruits, an important cash crop grown on large plantations for export, and an essential staple food for many developing countries.
- Bananas come in various shapes and forms. In fact, there are over 1 000 banana varieties. The most common one, which the commercial banana industry relies on, is the sweet and seedless Cavendish banana.
- The Cavendish banana variety, which accounts for 95 percent of all bananas sold commercially, is seedless, making it extremely convenient to eat. However, seedless also means sterile – unable to reproduce through normal seeding processes. Today’s commercial banana industry relies almost totally on the Cavendish because marketing only one variety makes harvesting, packaging and transport more cost-effective and delivers a uniform product.
- The Cavendish banana contains around 400 milligrams of potassium per 100 g fresh fruit, comparable to many cooked pulses, meat or fish. If consumed on a regular basis, bananas can help regulate blood pressure and control the activity of the heart. Those who consume high amounts of potassium have up to 27% lower risk of heart disease.
- Some banana varieties have high vitamin A contents such as the Utin Lap, a variety grown in Micronesia. Eating one of these small bananas (about 100 g) covers the vitamin A requirement for 2 days. The Cavendish variety, on the other hand, contains almost no vitamin A. Growing vitamin A-rich banana varieties in more countries could contribute to a decline in global vitamin A deficiency.
- Bananas can help athletes increase their performance. Besides a high potassium content, they provide a quick boost of energy and are a source of vitamins C and B6.
- Often used as a natural remedy, banana peel can soothe an itchy mosquito bite. Rubbing the area with the inside of a banana skin can give immediate relief as its sugars help to draw fluid out of the bite.
- Bananas are grown and harvested all year round and are ready to be harvested 8 to 10 months after planting. They are more likely to fruit in warm weather. It is highly efficient to cultivate bananas to cover the human requirements for a wide range of nutrients. Per hectare and year, bananas and potatoes produce nine important nutrients (energy, protein, dietary fiber, Fe, Zn, Ca, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate), more than cereals or any other food.
- Bananas are produced in over 135 countries and territories across the tropics and subtropics. India ranks number one with 29.7 million tonnes per year, followed by Uganda (11.1 million tonnes per year) and China (10.7 million tonnes per year).
- Despite predicted temperature increases of 3°C by 2070, increasing annual temperatures will make conditions more favorable for banana production in the subtropics and in tropical highlands. Land area suitable for bananas will increase 50% by 2070.
- The banana fungus Fusarium Wilt Tropical Race 4 – also known as Panama Disease - is the most destructive disease that is currently affecting banana plantations around the world. If not managed properly it can seriously harm an entire country’s banana industry.
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