Food of the Week: Banana

This week… It’s the turn of my yellow skinned fruit friend. The humble banana.

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I thought it was time to address how awesome these guys are, because they often get quite a bad rap.

For those of us calorie conscious, fruit is sometimes seen as the bad guy, due to being high in sugar.

There is some truth in it. The sugar in fruit is fructose, which we metabolise in the liver (unlike glucose, in all cells). If too much arrives at once, understandably the liver can’t process it and so where does it go…? You guessed it. Our fat cells.

A humble banana will not do this. Firstly the fructose levels are too low, secondly whole fruit contains substantial amounts of fibre and water which slows the digestive process, meaning less fructose makes it to our livers. Sweet 🙂

A glass of fruit juice, a sweet fizzy drink or soda is a totally different matter… Hello fat cells….

A whole fruit also has chewing requirements… It’s easy to gulp a glass of orange juice and feel little more that immediate thirst quenched. Eat an orange however, and you’ll still be chewing the third segment long after the glass of juice is a distant memory…

Put a bowl of orange segments in front of me, and it won’t take too long for me to have my fill… Be it mentally and / or physically. Sub that bowl for one of cookiesAnd I’ll empty it.

Natural fructose in fruit has no health relation to high fructose corn syrup which, when combined with processed fat makes crumbly cookies irresistible, wrecking our natural hormonal satiety signals. Not cool.

You make me bananas…

Here’s the nutritional lowdown…

We already know that fibre is awesome for reducing cholesterol levels in the blood… Bananas are full of the stuff. Combined with the significant levels of potassium, vitamin C and B6, we’re looking after our heart health with every mouthful. We’re also chewing on a great portion of antioxidants, vital for fighting free radicals (those nasty pre-cursors to cancerous cells).

With no sodium, they are also great for those with high blood pressure.

Bananas are high in potassium. This mineral is one of the main minerals present in our blood (part of the “electrolytes” crew) and is integral for chemical messages being sent around the body. It’s also vital for water balance and the acid-base balance in the blood and all cells, potassium is needed for the energy metabolism of carbs and building muscle.

See why ‘nanas are such an amazing recovery snack after training….? Reload on these healthy carbs which will post-digestion fill cells with much needed glycogen, and a nice injection of potassium and magnesium to help you rehydrate 🙂

High in the amino acid tryptophan, bananas are a great mood-booster, and helping preserve our memories as we age!

There’s an amazing host of other vits and minerals too… Vitamin A, folate, riboflavin, niacin and iron.

Bottom line: a banana is one single ingredient, found free in nature, complete and non-man made. Granted some may be polluted with pesticides, but as a whole fruit, they are not fried, hydrogenated or mutilated in any other way. (Hint hint… buy organic 🙂 )

Reaching for a snack? Next time reconsider your “healthy” bar loaded with preservatives, taste enhancers and other alien chemicals. Instead pick up a single ingredient snack, perfectly portion controlled, which comes in its own protective wrapper 🙂 . Combine your banana with a handful of almonds, and we’re talking a complete mini meal!

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