Common Names: Banana, Bananier Nain, Canbur, Curro, Plantain
Origin: Edible bananas originated in the Indo-Malaysian region reaching to northern Australia.
Species: Musa acuminata Colla, M. X paradisiaca L. (hybrid)
Related species Abyssinian Banana (Ensete ventricossum Cheesman), Musa balbisina Colla, M. ornata Roxb., M. textilis Nee
Bananas are elliptically shaped fruits "prepackaged" by Nature, featuring a firm, creamy flesh gift-wrapped inside a thick inedible peel. The banana plant grows 10 to 26 feet in height and belongs to the family Musaceae. Banana fruits grow in clusters of 50 to 150, with individual fruits grouped in bunches, known as "hands," of 10 to 25 bananas.
Bananas abound in hundreds of edible varieties that fall under two distinct species: the sweet banana (Musa sapienta, Musa nana) and the plantain banana (Musa paradisiacal). Sweet bananas vary in size and color.
While we are accustomed to thinking of sweet bananas as having yellow skins, they can also feature red, pink, purple and black tones when ripe. Their flavor and texture range with some varieties being sweet while others have starchier characteristics. In the United States, the most familiar varieties are Big Michael, Martinique and Cavendish. Plantain bananas are usually cooked and considered more like a vegetable due to their starchier qualities; they have a higher beta-carotene concentration than most sweet bananas.
Bananas are thought to have originated in Malaysia around 4,000 years ago. From there, they spread throughout the Philippines and India, where in 327 B.C. Alexander the Great's army recorded them being grown.
Bananas were introduced to Africa by Arabian traders and discovered there in 1482 A.D. by Portuguese explorers who took them to the Americas, the place where the majority of bananas are now produced.
Bananas were not brought to the United States for sale in markets until the latter part of the 19th century and were initially only enjoyed by people in the seacoast towns where the banana schooners docked; because of the fruit's fragility, they were unable to be transported far.
Since the development of refrigeration and rapid transport in the 20th century, bananas have become widely available. Today, bananas grow in most tropical and subtropical regions with the main commercial producers including Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador and Brazil.
 Popular varieties
These are the six most popular types of bananas that we often eat and their health benefits.
Banana is the world’s favorite fruit, and banana plant is not a tree. It is the world’s biggest herb. Bananas contain three natural sugars: sucrose, fructose, and glucose. Banana gives an instant and sustainable boost of energy. They are a good source of potassium, fiber, 110 calories each, approximately 6 vitamins, and 11 minerals. Bananas have many health benefits. Below are the six types of bananas that we often eat.
The Manzano banana is short and chubby with a mild Strawberry-Apple flavor, and the skin is black when it’s ripe. It has a chunkier and heavier appearance than traditional banana. This banana is usually grown in Asia, South America, Mexico, Caribbean, and Africa, which also known as Apple banana.
Baby/Nino banana is about three inches long. When they are ripe, they turn bright yellow and have a rich, sweet flavor, and creamy texture. This is one of the smallest and sweetest bananas around. It is only 3 inches long, and a native of Colombia. It is an excellent source of heart-healthy vitamin B6. This baby banana can be baked, sauteed, broiled, and even grilled.
The Burro banana is round and has a squared off ends. This is stubbier, smaller, and more rectangular in shape than Cavendish yellow banana. When ripe, the skin is yellow with black spots, and the flesh is creamy white. They have a tangy, almost Lemony flavor. This burro banana can be eaten fresh, and cooked in all recipes.
The Red banana is heartier and slightly sweeter than yellow banana. When ripe, they have maroon/purple skin to almost black, and the flesh is pinkish, or salmon yellow. The Red banana has a Raspberry hint of flavor. It also contains more beta carotene, and vitamin C than the regular yellow banana.
The Plantain banana is starchy and lower in Sugar. It has to be cooked before serving since it’s unsuited to eat it raw. Plantains are native of India, and grow mostly in tropical climates. Sometimes, it is preferred to Potatoes or pasta in the Caribbean. Plantain usually has green color, when ripe, it is almost black. The flesh is creamy and yellowish or lightly pink.
The Cavendish banana is the most popular banana in the U.S. Sometimes it is also known as the Chiquita because Chiquita is the globe’s largest banana producer. America eats more bananas than any other fresh fruits. Banana usually eats fresh and can be use for many purposes such as bread baking, pie, muffins, Yogurts, smoothies, puddings, and custards.
Pick full-yellow bananas for salads or snacking. Use those with spots on the peel for baking, smoothies or recipes that call for mashed bananas. Avoid bananas with a gray tint or dull skin.
As with all bananas, it is best to purchase while still a bit green. Bananas are nutritious and convenient to eat. They are cheap and always available. If you want to preserve bananas, put them in the refrigerator only after they reach desired ripeness. They can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. The color of skin will be darkened, but the flesh remains its flavor.
 Banana Selection
As you've probably noticed in the marketplace, bananas are picked and shipped green. They are the only fruit that actually develop better color, texture, Aroma, and sweetness when ripened after harvest. They ripen quickly after being harvested and will also hasten ripening of other fruits in their vicinity. It's the tiny seeds within the fruit that release a ripening hormone, a mixture of ethylene gas and Carbon dioxide.
When selecting bananas, think about your usage time frame. You may wish to choose some already ripe for immediate use and some still slightly but not overly green to ripen for later use. Select bananas that are bright in color, full and plump, avoiding those with bruises. A dull, gray color indicates they have been chilled or overheated during storage.
Ripe bananas show no trace of green skin. Fullest flavor is derived from bananas that begin to develop tiny dark specks. If you are unable to easily break the stem to peel the banana, it is not yet ripe. If the skin is difficult to separate from the fruit, it is most likely too starchy and bitter to eat without cooking and could cause digestional distress and/or constipation if eaten raw.
 Banana Storage
Bananas can be refrigerated for several days to stunt ripening. Although the skins of refrigerated bananas will turn brown, the fruit itself will be fine. Allow the refrigerated fruit to come to room temperature before consuming for full flavor.
Peeled bananas should be eaten immediately lest they discolor due to exposure to the air. Bananas can be frozen whole, but don't expect the same texture when thawed. Freeze them in their skin and save for later use in sauces, baked goods, or blended drinks.
Add one tablespoon of citrus or Pineapple juice to one cup of mashed bananas and freeze in a sealed container up to three months.
 Interesting Facts About Bananas
- The word banana is derived from the Arab word "banan," which means finger.
- Bananas are harvested green because they keep ripening even after they are picked.
- Unlike most other fruits that grow on trees, bananas grow on plants.
- An average American is said to consume more than 28 pounds of bananas every year.
- Brisbane holds the world record for the longest banana split, which measured 7.3 kilometers.
3 medium bananas would weigh about a pound.
- Despite that fact that bananas love a tropical Climate, they are grown in Iceland too, by heating the Soil with geysers.
 Health Benefits of Bananas
Bananas contain tryptophan, an aminoacid that can be converted to serotonin, leading to improved mood.
Bananas are relatively high in Iron, which helps the body's hemoglobin function.
Constipation and Diarrhea
Due to their content in fiber, they help restore a normal bowel function. In addition, diarrhea usually depletes your body of important electrolytes (of which the most important is Potassium, contained in high amounts in bananas). They also contain pectin, a soluble fiber (hydrocolloid) that can help normalize movement through the digestive tract.
Research published in the Archives of Ophthalmology has proven that adults consuming at least 3 servings of fruit per day have a reduced risk (by 36%) of developing age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.
Bananas are an exceptionally rich source of fructooligosaccharide, a compound that nourishes probiotic (friendly) bacteria in the colon. These beneficial Bacteria produce enzymes that increase our digestive ability and protect us from unhealthy bacteria infections. Thanks to fructooligosaccharides, probiotic bacteria can increase both in number and functionality, increasing our body's ability to absorb Calcium.
In addition, green bananas contain indigestible short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that are very nutrient to the cells that make up the mucosa of the stomach. These cells, when healthy, absorb calcium much more efficiently
About 190,000 cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed each year. Research published in the International Journal of Cancer has shown that daily consumption of whole fruits and vegetables, especially bananas, is highly protective to kidney health. The results show that, over a long timeframe (13.4 years), women eating more than 2.5 servings of fruits and vegetable per day cut their risk of kidney cancer by 40%. Among the fruits, bananas were especially protective.
Women eating bananas four to six times a week halved their risk of developing the disease compared to those who did not eat this fruit. The conclusion of the study is that frequent consumption of fruits and vegetables, especially bananas, cabbage and root vegetables, may reduce risk of kidney cancer. This is because bananas and many root vegetables contain especially high amounts of antioxidant phenolic compounds, while Cabbage is rich in Sulfur, necessary for effective detoxification of potential carcinogens.
Bananas are extremely high in potassium (about 4673mg), yet very low in sodium (1mg), thus having a perfect ratio for preventing high blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.
Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.
Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood-sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.
Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. They contain vitamins B6 and B12 they contain, as well as Potassium and Magnesium: these substances help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
This is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicle cases. It also helps reduce acidity and reduces irritation. Bananas stimulate the cells on the internal stomach lining to produce a thicker mucus (which protects against acid). Additionally, bananas contain protease inhibitors that help eliminate Bacteria in the stomach that have been pinpointed as a primary cause of ulcers.
Bananas are high in B vitamins that have been shows to improve nerve function
Many people report that rubbing the inside of a banana peel on a mosquito bite is very effective in reducing itching and swelling
Bananas are high in potassium, which helps normalize the hearthbeat and regulate the body's water balance. During periods of high stress, our body's potassium levels tend to be rapidly depleted: eating bananas is a healthy way to rebalance them without using drugs
According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can reduce the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%
 Uncommon Uses for Bananas
Make a face mask
Who needs Botox when you have bananas? That's right: You can use a banana as an all-natural face mask that moisturizes your skin and leaves it looking and feeling softer. Mash up a medium-sized ripe banana into a smooth paste, then gently apply it to your face and neck. Let it set for 10-20 minutes, then rinse it off with cold water. Another popular mask recipe calls for 1/4 cup plain Yogurt, 2 tablespoons Honey, and 1 medium banana.
Eat a frozen "banana-sicle"
As a Summer treat for friends and family, peel and cut four ripe bananas in half (across the middle). Stick a wooden Ice cream stick into the flat end of each piece. Place them all on a piece of wax paper, and then put it in the freezer. A few hours later, serve them up as simply yummy frozen banana-sicles. If you want to go all-out, quickly dip your frozen bananas in 6 ounces (170 grams) melted butterscotch or Chocolate morsels (chopped nuts or shredded coconut are optional), then refreeze.
Tenderize a roast
Banana leaves are commonly used in many Asian countries to wrap meat as it's cooking to make it more tender. Some folks in these areas say the banana itself also has this ability. So the next time you fear the roast you're cooking will turn tough on you, try softening it up by adding a ripe, peeled banana to the pan.
Polish silverware and leather shoes
It may sound a bit like a lark, but using a banana peel is actually a great way to put the shine back into your silverware and leather shoes. First, remove any of the leftover stringy material from the inside of the peel, then just start rubbing the inside of the peel on your shoes or silver. When you're done, buff up the object with a Paper towel or soft cloth. You might even want to use this technique to restore your leather furniture. Test it on a small section first before you take on the whole chair.
Brighten up houseplants
Are the leaves on your houseplants looking dingy or dusty? Don't bother misting them with water -- that just spreads the dirt around. Rather, wipe down each leaf with the inside of a banana peel. It'll remove all the gunk on the surface and replace it with a lustrous shine.
Are aphids attacking your rosebushes or other plants? Bury dried or cut-up banana peels an inch or two deep around the base of the aphid-prone plants, and soon the little suckers will pack up and leave. Don't use whole peels or the bananas themselves, though; they tend to be viewed as tasty treats by raccoons, squirrels, gophers, rabbits, and other animals, who will just dig them up.
Use as Fertilizer or mulch
Banana peels, like the fruit itself, are rich in potassium -- an important nutrient for both you and your garden. Dry out banana peels on screens during the Winter months. In early spring, grind them up in a food processor or blender and use it as a mulch to give new plants and seedlings a healthy start. Many cultivars of Roses and other plants, like staghorn ferns, also benefit from the nutrients found in banana peels; simply cut up some peels and use them as plant food around your established plants.
Add to compost pile
With their high content of potassium and phosphorus, whole bananas and peels are welcome additions to any compost pile -- particularly in so-called compost tea recipes. The fruit breaks down especially fast in hot temperatures. But don't forget to remove any glued-on tags from the peels, and be sure to bury bananas deep within your pile -- otherwise they may simply turn out to be a meal for a four-legged visitor.
Attract butterflies and birds
Bring more butterflies and various bird species to your backyard by putting out overripe bananas (as well as other fruits such as mangos, oranges, and papayas) on a raised platform. Punch a few holes in the bananas to make the fruit more accessible to the butterflies. Some enthusiasts swear by adding a drop of Gatorade to further mush things up. The fruit is also likely to attract more bees and wasps as well, so make sure that the plat-form is well above head level and not centrally located. Moreover, you'll probably want to clear it off before sunset, to discourage visits from raccoons and other nocturnal creatures.