I’m pretty excited. This week, after a whole year of suggesting, asking, pleading….I have finally managed to get myself a banana plant for the backyard. It is no secret that we are a family that are pretty fond of growing as much produce as we can manage to eat, and at the moment I can see a huge discrepancy between the amount of bananas we eat (approximately 5 kilos a week) and the amount we produce (a big fat ZERO). What’s more, I have discovered that bananas have plenty of health benefits not just from the yellow fruit, but from the stem, the leaf and the flowers as well. The banana plant produces large pinkish/purple buds from the heart which develop into tubular, white flowers. The blossom hangs at the end of the cluster of bananas. On occasion I have seen fresh banana flowers (complete with cluster of bananas) in the Sydney Flower Market, but it is a rare treat.
Banana flowers are often used in Asian and South East Asian cuisines, almost in place of a vegetable in curries, soups and salads. The banana flower is sometimes compared to an artichoke in terms of its texture and taste, and like the artichoke, both the fleshy bracts and the heart are edible.
Banana flowers are a rich source of Antioxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, Potassium, Magnesium and Fibre, making them an excellent food choice. Antioxidants are essential for health because they reduce stress on cells throughout the body and therefore help slow down the ageing process. Magnesium is said to help reduce anxiety and boost your mood, so for those of you who like to eat your way to health, they are a natural anti depressant. Magnesium also helps promote restful sleep. Potassium is fuel for the brain, so helps with concentration, making you more receptive to learning. It has been shown to be an effective remedy to high blood pressure, and has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. Fibre is an important addition to any diet (both soluble fiber and insoluble) as it helps make digestion more efficient and reduces the instances of constipation.
Banana are pretty much a super-food for women throughout various stages of life. Cooked banana flower combined with yoghurt or curd is said to be one of the most effective home remedies for treating excessive (and painful) bleeding throughout menstruation. The unique combination increases the level of progesterone in the body which has been shown to help reduce bleeding. The Banana fruit is also rich in folic acid (required for making blood) making them a great choice for pregnant women who have increased requirements. On top of that, the bananas high iron content assists in preventing anemia keeping both mum and bubs healthy throughout pregnancy.
Nursing mothers can sometimes struggle with milk supply and Banana flowers have been found to boost milk supply 😄 Any new mother knows making time to eat properly when you are tending to a new baby can be challenging. Bananas are the original ‘100 calorie snack food’; the perfect food on the go! With only 100 calories and high fibre, they will keep you feeling fuller longer.
Now, I’m under no illusions, one banana plant for my hungry tribe is probably not going to be enough, but it’s a start anyhow! And while this list is not exhaustive it’s clear to me, that bananas are certainly a good choice for the garden or your shopping trolley. Bananas are of course readily available, and Banana flowers can sometimes be found in Asian supermarkets. If you are ready to experiment check out this Banana Blossom Salad recipe.
Featured Image; New Vision