Sunday, 22 November 2015

Why I'm Bananas About Bananas

Please excuse the lame title, I couldn't help myself.


Ah yes, the banana. An edible fruit (botanically a berry) which grows from several kinds of large herbaceous flowering plants in the genus musa family. Personally I eat a minimum of 10 bananas per day, sometimes up to 30. I'd like to share why I believe that this beautiful tropical fruit is the single most important food for someone following a high-carb, low-fat, plant-based diet.

Firstly, let's get one thing straight. Human beings are a plant-eating species. From the length of our intestines, to the side-to-side grinding motion of our jaws, carbohydrate digestive enzymes in our saliva and many more factors... Everything about our physiology shows that we are designed to thrive on a primarily fruit-based diet. We have adapted the ability to process other foods (such as animal derived products and cooked foods) as a survival mechanism, however if it's optimal health that you're after - fruit is the answer.  Fruit is appealing to all of our senses in it's raw, natural state. The same cannot be said for other food groups. No other animal in nature eats cooked food, so why should we? In order to make a piece of meat palatable, you have to marinate it, drown it in oil & salt, cook it for an extended period of time and season it with herbs and spices. If we were naturally carnivorous or omnivorous, you'd be salivating every time you drove past a dead kangaroo on the side of the road.


Anyway, let's focus on bananas now. There are thousands upon thousands of varieties of exotic fruit on this planet, each with their own unique tastes and nutritional benefits. The downside to this is, a lot of these fruits are not available in all areas and at all times throughout the year. Bananas on the other hand are the most cultivated fruit in the world and are therefore available year-round, pretty much anywhere you go. The fact that they're so abundant also means that they are extremely affordable. Where I live, you can buy bananas for less than $5 a kilo.

Bananas are an excellent source of vitamin B6 and potassium, and contain moderate amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, iron and protein. Ripe bananas also contain serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. They contain very little to no fat, cholesterol or sodium. As for the taste, I must confess that bananas are not my favourite fruit. I would much prefer to devour a juicy mango or a watermelon... but can I always have these? Unfortunately not. Bananas are also a reliable calorie source, meaning they always fill you up and leave you satiated - provided you eat enough of them.

Another great benefit to bananas is that the ripening process is easy to monitor and control compared to other fruits. If you look at a mango, jackfruit or papaya, it's a bit harder to determine when it's perfectly ripe. If you buy some green bananas from the supermarket, they'll generally take around 5-7 days to ripen. You will know they're ready when they've got some nice little freckles evenly spread across the skin. You can slow the ripening process down by covering the tip of the stem in glad wrap and placing them in a cool area, or in the fridge/freezer if you want to stop ripening completely. With a bit of practice, this means that you'll always have ripe fruit on hand when you're hungry!

All in all, bananas will never let you down and they always deliver the goods. You can't always trust your mango, but you can always trust your banana. They can't be beaten for availability, reliability, versatility and price. This is why they're such a staple in Africa, China and Asia. In the wise words of Gwen Stefani: "This shit is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S!"


PS: I should mention that I am not currently eating a 100% fruit-based diet. For the most part I eat "raw till 4", meaning the first two meals of the day are raw fruits and vegetables, followed by a cooked vegan meal for dinner (often rice, pasta, potatoes etc) with very minimal oil & salt.  I've experimented with a fully raw diet and felt great while doing do, but raw till 4 is slightly more practical. In a perfect world I would be eating fruit all day every day, however that isn't always the easiest thing to do so I make a small compromise for my own convenience.
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