Tuesday, November 15, 2011 by: Tara Green
(NaturalNews) Whether as a quick snack, cut up and tossed in the blender for a fruit smoothie, or used to make quick bread or pancakes, most people enjoy bananas. Bananas are such a staple on produce shelves that most of us don’t stop to think about their tropical origins or their many nutritional benefits. Next time you enjoy a banana, consider some of these facts:
1. Hands and Fingers
Bananas do not grow on trees. The banana plant is classified as an arborescent (tree-like) perennial herb and the banana itself is actually considered a berry. The correct name for bunch of bananas is a hand of bananas; a single banana is a finger.
2. Heart Health
One banana contains 467mg of potassium, providing powerful protection to the cardiovascular system. Regular consumption of the potassium-packed fruit helps guard against high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and stroke.
Although bananas do not contain high amounts of calcium, they do supply the body with an abundance of fructooligosaccharide, a prebiotic substance (one which encourages probiotics, the friendly bacteria in the digestive system). As fructooligosaccharides ferment in the digestive tract, they enhance the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
4. Energy and Mood Balancing
Another benefit to bananas high potassium content derives from that mineral’s role as an energy-supplying electrolyte. Since bananas also contain tryptophan, serotonin and norepinephrine, they help prevent depression while encouraging feelings of well-being and relaxation. In addition, the vitamin B6 in bananas helps protect against sleeplessness, mood swings and irritability.