The mighty banana

banana-325461__180I love fruit, but there is one kind that I don’t particularly like: bananas. I’ll have a banana when it’s on the green side, but when those brown spots appear, forget it – I can’t eat it.

For me, a speckled banana is too sweet. At home, when ripened bananas accumulate and there’s no one around to eat them, I’ll store them in the deep-freezer for future use.

No one should waste bananas; they’re packed with nutritional goodness. In fact, it’s a banana a day that keeps the doctor away! Bananas are the number one food for athletes or just about anyone on the go. Research shows that two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout.

With its high fiber, low salt and natural sugars – glucose, fructose and sucrose – bananas provide an instant and long-lasting boost of energy. One banana gives you 440 mg of potassium – an electrolyte needed to send oxygen to your brain, regulate your fluid balance and normalize your heartbeat and blood pressure.

This potassium-packed fruit is also high in magnesium and Vitamin B, making it the ideal food to reduce stress. Bananas calm the nervous system and relax the muscles. They can help you cope during the day and sleep better at night. John Zimmer recommends having a banana before giving a speech or a presentation. You can read about it here.

For mental health, bananas reduce symptoms of depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to its high levels of tryptophan – a type of protein that your body converts into serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that improves your mood and makes you feel happy and relaxed.

With its high Vitamin B6 content, bananas can regulate blood glucose levels, help with the production of white blood cells and protect against developing type-2 diabetes. Though they are not high in calcium, bananas help your body absorb calcium and keep your bones strong. They are also a good source of iron and Vitamins A and C.

Bananas are a natural remedy for many ailments such as intestinal ulcers, premenstrual syndrome, recovering from the effects of nicotine withdrawal or preventing strokes.

If you are looking for alternative ways to consume bananas, try a banana-based smoothie. Here are two kinds of smoothies I’ve been experimenting with – strawberry and spinach smoothies. To obtain that silky texture, use a blender or a liquidiser and not a food processor or a juicer.

These smoothies are delicious, easy to make and full of goodness.

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Strawberry-banana and spinach-banana smoothies

Strawberry-banana smoothie 

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

  • 2 frozen bananas, peeled and sliced*
  • about 15 large fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup almond milk (with no sugar added)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger root sliced in litttle chunks
  • 1/2 cup of rolled oats (with no sugar added)

Blend the bananas, strawberries and almond milk.  Add the ginger and rolled oats and blend until nice and smooth. Serve.

Spinach-banana smoothie

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen banana, peeled and sliced*
  • 1 cup 100% pure apple juice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup baby spinach (pressed firmly to make a cup)
  • 1/4 cup watercress
  • 1 pear, sliced in cubes

Blend the banana, apple juice and lime juice with spinach and watercress. Add pear and blend until nice and smooth. Serve.

* For frozen bananas with the peel on, defrost them in the microwave for just a minute or so, or just long enough to remove the peel and slice them, but make sure that the bananas remain cold and partly frozen.

For a refreshing smoothie, make it with cold ingredients (liquids, fruits and veggies) kept in the fridge or blend all ingredients with a few ice cubes.

Enjoy!

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Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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