Health: Benefits of Cooked Green Bananas

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Cooked green bananas are a staple in several banana-exporting countries. Apart from banana bread, there are a lot of ways to incorporate green banana in your dishes. In the Caribbean, they put it in several fish recipes. You can also boil, fry, saute or use it in stews.

Not all bananas are good for cooking though. When buying bananas in your local grocery, look for the bright green one. Make sure it doesn’t have spots. This variety is specially grown for cooking and tastes bland with a hint of bitterness when eaten raw.

But why should you go for a cooked banana? Why go through all that hassle when there are varieties you can eat raw and tastes good too? That’s because there are nutrients in cooked green bananas you won’t get in raw ones.

Potassium

One nutrient that bananas are known for is potassium. Its primary function is regulating the fluid balance in our bodies. It also controls the electrical activity of the heart and muscles. Experts recommend at least 100 milligrams of potassium intake daily for the human body to function properly. A lack of potassium can lead to fatigue and constipation. Extreme potassium deficiency may cause paralysis, respiratory failure, and painful gut blockages.

Vitamin C

Not a lot of people know that aside from citrus fruits, Vitamin C is also abundant in green bananas. Also known as L-ascorbic acid, it’s a water-soluble vitamin essential in various body functions. Aside from being a powerful antioxidant, it also helps treat and prevent scurvy. By synthesizing collagen, Vitamin C also helps in faster healing of wounds. It also boosts your body’s immunity as well as improves the absorption of iron into the bloodstream.

Vitamin B6

Another water-soluble vitamin you can get from cooked green bananas is Vitamin B6. Like Vitamin C, our body needs it to function properly too. It aids in the production of red blood cells and the conversion of fats and carbohydrates to energy. Our body can’t make Vitamin B6 so it’s important to get it from the foods we eat. Some of the known benefits of Vitamin B6 are improving brain health, easing depression, preventing anemia, reduce risks of heart and eye diseases. It can also be used to prevent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

Dietary Fibers

Green bananas also contain resistant starch and pectin. Though further studies have yet to be conducted, these dietary fibers are thought to have a prebiotic effect. It feeds the good bacteria residing in your guts otherwise known as probiotics. The bacteria ferment the starch and pectin converting them to short-chain fatty acids which helps promote better digestion. Probiotics can be obtained through foods or probiotic supplements.

Health Benefits

A banana sliced into tiny pieces.

Easier Weight Management

Fiber-rich foods like cooked green bananas can be very filling. Studies show that it promotes a feeling of fullness and satiety even when eaten in small amounts. Resistant starches are not easily digested too thereby prolonging satiation. This helps you control your carbohydrate intake and consequently, makes weight management a lot easier.

Good for the Colon

Besides helping you lose weight, the dietary fibers in banana benefit your colon too. They help increase the probiotic bacteria in your gut which, in turn, helps prevent various colon diseases like colitis and IBS.

Promotes Healthy Digestion

Pectin, a dietary fiber found in cooked green bananas, plays a key role in treating constipation and improving gut motility. A research conducted in Canada also shows that an increase in fiber intake among adults reduces constipation.

Maintains Blood Sugar Levels

Unripe green bananas have a typically lesser glycemic index than ripe yellow ones. Plus its resistant starch content has the ability to slow down sugar absorption in your bloodstream. This helps your body maintain stable blood sugar levels thereby preventing diabetes.

Strengthens Bones

If you’re an athlete or bodybuilder, you’ll do well to include cooked green banana in your diet. Potassium-rich foods help the body maintain an alkaline environment. This, in turn, helps us maintain tissue and muscle mass as well as increase bone density. It’s also the reason why bananas are highly recommended for aged patients and those suffering from muscular atrophy.

Prevents Heart Diseases

Several research studies found that Vitamin B6 (which is available in high amounts in cooked green bananas) helps in preventing various heart diseases by reducing your body’s homocysteine levels.

Homocysteine is an amino acid you commonly get from eating meats. Elevated levels of such are often linked to developing early signs of heart disease. Studies conducted in both humans and animals show that those with high intakes of Vitamin B6 have lower homocysteine notwithstanding lifestyle and genetics.

Antioxidant

Cooked green bananas make good antioxidants too due to their high vitamin C content. It fights free radicals by preventing cellular oxidation. Antioxidants are also often credited as an important contributing factor in treating and preventing cancer.

What’s the Best Way to Cook a Green Banana?

Raw banana bunch still hanging from the shrub.

Is there a way to cook green bananas that would not affect its nutritional content? This is a common concern for those looking to maximize the health benefits of cooked banana.

Apparently, cooking a green banana doesn’t affect much of its health benefits. Its potassium and fiber content is highly stable and doesn’t change even when exposed to extreme heat. This is why a deep-fried green banana has as much potassium as the raw one. Dried bananas, however, have about four times potassium than raw or boiled ones. That’s because as moisture decreases, the potassium gets compressed.

If you’re after the health benefits of potassium however, boiling is not recommended. Several studies confirmed that water takes the potassium out of the banana. This is also why soaking a banana in water before cooking it is not advisable too.

If the heat doesn’t alter its potassium content, Vitamin C and B6 are a different story. These two minerals are sensitive to heat and may break down during the cooking process and cause the banana to lose some of its vitamin content.

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