Banana Healthy Food Guide
America's Favorite Fruit
Americans eat more bananas than any other fresh fruit. Here's why we go bananas over them.
- They're nutritious. One of the best fruit sources of potassium (a nutrient associated with healthy blood pressure), bananas also boast good doses of vitamin C, cell-building B6 and fiber.
- They come in their own portion-controlled, portable, biodegradable packaging.
- They're a good neighbor. Bananas give off so much ethylene gas while they're ripening, they can turn green tomatoes red or ripen a hard avocado if you put them in a paper bag together for a few days.
- They rarely go to waste. Refrigerate once ripe and the skin will darken, but the fruit inside will be fine. Use really ripe bananas for baking or smoothies. Or peel and freeze them whole to use later.
The Health Benefits of Bananas
At 105 calories, a medium (7 1/2-inch) banana is a nutrient powerhouse, providing vitamin B6 (22% Daily Value), vitamin C (15% DV), potassium (12% DV), magnesium (8% DV), folate (6% DV) and 3 grams fiber. It also has virtually no fat, sodium or cholesterol.
Shopping & Storage Tips for Bananas
Shopping Tip: Unlike most other fruits, bananas are able to be picked while still very green. They are best for eating when their skin ripens to yellow and starches convert rapidly to sugars.
Storage Tip: Ripe bananas can be refrigerated, although this blackens the skins. A yellowing banana emits generous amounts of ethylene gas, which can help hasten the ripening of tomatoes, avocados, green bananas and other fruits when enclosed together in a paper or plastic bag.
Shopping for Banana Varieties
Baby Banana: (pictured far left) Now appearing in many supermarkets, this variety is also known as the ladyfinger banana, bananito or murapo. The sweetest of the commercial bananas, it tastes of cinnamon, guava and pineapple. When to eat: Its thick skin turns yellow with black spots when ripe. This banana is sweeter than the Cavendish and has deep yellow-colored flesh with a banana custard flavor. One has 80 calories.
Cavendish: (pictured second from left) Your regular ol' run-of-the-mill (yet delicious) banana. The most common variety in North American supermarkets is cultivated by the majority of large-scale banana growers for worldwide distribution. When to eat: Allow to ripen at room temperature and consume after its skin fully changes from green to yellow. A medium one has 100 calories.
Burro: (pictured in the middle) Stockier than other varieties, with square edges, the Burro has a mild flavor similar to the Cavendish. It is ripe when the skin is yellow with black spots.
Red Banana: (pictured second from right) This smallish mahogany-colored fruit, also called Indio, Cuban Red, Jamaican Red, Macaboo and Morado, hails from Ecuador and Central America. Its creamy white to pink flesh has a slight raspberry flavor and floral aroma. Higher in vitamin C than yellow varieties, it is also rich in carotene: the redder the color, the more carotene it contains. When to eat: The reddish skin becomes more purple or dark red when it's ripe. It will still be somewhat firm, yet yield slightly to gentle pressure.
Manzano: (pictured far right) Also known as the "apple banana," the stubby Manzano is sweet with hints of tart apple and strawberry flavor. When to eat: Its thick skin will be heavily mottled with black, but color isn't always the best indicator: it should yield to gentle pressure before eating (when unripe, Manzanos can be very tannic).
Savory, smoky and slightly sweet, these are great with roast pork loin, a hearty bowl of black bean soup or barbecued chicken legs and coleslaw. Dotted with creme fraiche, they make an exotic appetizer.
Here we layer delicate banana-buttermilk cake with a fluffy Bavarian-style cream that's made low-fat by combining nonfat milk with a reasonable amount of whipping cream. The rich taste makes it hard to believe that this cake has only 300 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat per slic
Put away any preconceived notions of Grandma's fruit salad. This unusual combination of tropical fruit in a savory shallot vinaigrette will have you dreaming of the tropics.
This banana quick bread is full of chocolate chips and toasted heart-healthy walnuts so you get a taste of nuts and chocolate in each bite. This version reduces the fat substantially and uses nonfat buttermilk to make the results extremely moist and tender.
The bananas have to get in and out of the pan in 1 1/2 minutes, no longer, so they stay firm in the center. If you are cooking for 4, you can easily double the recipe; it is important not to crowd the skillet, so get everything ready to go and make it in 2 batches.
Kids will love dipping bananas in melted chocolate and rolling them in coconut to make this tasty frozen treat.
Stir chopped gingersnaps, sliced bananas and toasted pecans into softened vanilla frozen yogurt for a quick, crowd-pleasing dessert.
The first ketchup was a pickled fish condiment popular in the 17th century in China, discovered by visiting Brits. Creative Americans added tomatoes during Colonial times. Try this savory spicy sauce on a burger, with pork or fish, or even as a dipping sauce for chicken fingers.
Cocoa- and coconut-crusted bananas are a treat for the whole family.