The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim described the benefits of eating bananas in his work "The Prophetic Medicine", saying that the benefits were greater when the bananas were ripe and sweet. He said that bananas were beneficial for:
- The throat and lungs, especially for asthma;
- A recurrent cough and expulsion of phlegm;
- Ulcers of the kidney and bladder;
- Promoting bowel movement.
He mentioned that any side-effects of the banana on the stomach could be reduced by eating them with sugar or honey.
Bananas are a good source of Vitamin C, B6 and fiber. Green bananas are an excellent source of resistant starch, which tends to be digested slower and therefore does not cause blood glucose to surge. Resistant starch may also reduce the risk of many different cancers, especially colon cancer. Red bananas contain more Vitamin C, Beta-carotene and alpha-carotene than yellow bananas. They are also an excellent source of potassium.
Some recent studies about the health benefits of eating bananas include:
- Ulcers: animal research found that bananas caused the cells that lined the stomach to produce a thicker protective barrier against acid. They were also found to contain compounds called protease inhibitors, which help to destroy harmful bacteria thought to be responsible for most stomach ulcers.
- Diarrhea: a study found that a group of children suffering from diarrhea recovered more quickly when they ate bananas compared to the group that were fed pectin or plain rice.
- Kidney Cancer: a large study found that women who ate bananas four to six times a week reduced their risk of developing kidney cancer by fifty percent compared to women who did not eat bananas.
Tips of Using Bananas
- Keep bananas at room temperature in a fruit bowl.
- If you want the bananas to ripen faster, place them in a bowl in the sun or ripen in a brown bag with a tomato or piece of apple overnight.
- Refrigerating bananas will delay ripening but will turn the peels black.
- When peeling and slicing bananas that won't be served immediately, dip them in lemon, lime or orange juice to slow browning.
References for further reading
- Emery EA, Ahmad S, Koethe JD, Skipper A, Perlmutter S, Paskin DL. Banana flakes control diarrhea in enterally fed patients. Nutr Clin Pract. 1997 Apr; 12 (2):72-75.
- Rabbani GH et al. Clinical studies in persistent diarrhea: dietary management with green banana or pectin in Bangladeshi children. Gastroenterology. 2001 Sep;121(3):554-560.
- Rabbani GH et al. Green banana and pectin improve small intestinal permeability and reduce fluid loss in Bangladeshi children with persistent diarrhea. Dig Dis Sci. 2004 Mar;49(3):475-484.
- Rao NM. Protease inhibitors from ripened and unripened bananas. Biochem Int. 1991;24(1):13-22.
- Rashidkhani B, Lindblad P, Walk A. Fruits, vegetables and risk of renal cell carcinoma: a prospective study of Swedish women. Int J cancer. 2005;113(3):451-455.