Albert Bijou, Back to Nature
Puttering around the kitchen at my Back to Nature restaurant, I’ve been studying the health benefits of different foods and the banana really surprised me. Continue reading and you might never look at a banana the same way again.
Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes. But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must have in our daily diet.
Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.
PMS: Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.
Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration have just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.
Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.
Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.
Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.
Overweight? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.
Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.
Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a 'cooling' fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.
Smoking &Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.
Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!
So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around so maybe it’s time to change that well-known phrase to, 'A banana a day keeps the doctor away! Banana muffin, anyone?
BANANA CRUMB MUFFINS
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1: preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
2: In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, white sugar, egg, and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
3: In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
4: Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.
To make them healthier, you can replace 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 cup whole wheat flour; use low fat margarine instead of butter; cut the white sugar to 1/2 cup; use 1/4 tsp. cinnamon for more flavor.
You can also try adding 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, and 3/4 tsp. cinnamon to the muffin batter. I also use canola oil in place of the melted butter and 1/2 c. white sugar and 1/4 c. brown. In the crumb topping you might like to increase the cinnamon to 1/4 tsp.