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Wellness and beauty
When it comes to an easy and healthy snack, bananas are at the top of the list. Few plant-based foods rival their ready availability and high nutritional value.
Interestingly, while banana plants are one of the world’s oldest plants and now grown in more than 100 countries, they are believed to have been first domesticated and cultivated in Papua New Guinea, with some estimates as far back as 8000 BC. These days they are a major diet staple, used mostly in desserts, porridges, pancakes and cakes.
It’s just as well, as bananas can do no wrong in the health department. They are packed with potassium, the mineral essential for a healthy heart and kidneys. Studies have shown women who eat bananas up to three times a week are a third less likely to develop kidney disease. Separate research has found both men and women who eat bananas up to six times a week are half as likely to suffer kidney problems than those who do not.
Bananas are also credited with helping weight loss due to their high levels of pectin, a soluble fibre that leads to feelings of fullness and controls food cravings.
They are also major sources of vitamins B and C, plus calcium and magnesium. Their antioxidant content makes them a five-star inflammation fighter, perfect for helping prevent all kinds of ailments from arthritis to gout, not to mention anti-ageing.
Bananas contain predominantly carbohydrate and water, contain virtually no fat and little protein. Full of good kilojoules and carbohydrates, they are popular with sports people wanting a quick boost of natural, healthy energy.
Bananas are good news, too, for people suffering or at risk of developing diabetes, as they rank ‘low’ on the glycaemic index, the measure of how fast a food raises blood sugar.
PNG cooking styles see bananas commonly served as part of high-kilojoule desserts such as puddings and porridges, often with lashings of coconut cream or milk, which despite their health-giving qualities need to be enjoyed in small doses due to the fat content.
For this reason we have selected a vegan recipe for the popular PNG-style banana cake from healthy eating expert and founder of gentlyvegan.com, Catherine Carr. Enjoy.