“You need to put on weight. Eat bananas.” Who hasn’t heard this bit of advice?
Elders and fitness instructors often advocate bingeing on bananas to bulk up. With 90 to 110 calories per piece, a banana has more calories than most other fruits – the reason that most people steer clear when aiming for weight loss.
But the truth remains that the curvy fruit won’t add to your curves. Nutritionists worldwide have recognised bananas’ “fat-burning” qualities.
An average-sized banana has only 0.3 grams of fat. It contains a compound called pectin that contributes to the feeling of satiation. The yellow fruit has a low glycemic index and helps in controlling increased blood sugar levels in the body. Recent research has also indicated the presence of a resistant starch – green bananas contain a larger amount than yellow ones – that increases the rate of fat burn by blocking the ability of the body to use carbohydrates as fuel.
Bananas boost the absorption of calcium in our body and contain a healthy dose of potassium, which lowers high blood pressure and reduces stroke risk. The fruit also contains manganese, which improves digestion and prevents bone disease, as well as vitamin B6m which regularises blood circulation. Moreover, one-third of the fibre in bananas is water soluble and has been found to decrease the risk of heart disease.
But it is the fruit’s fat-fighting ability that has put it at the centre of several diet fads. In 2008, Japan went bananas about the Morning Banana Diet, leading to a shortage in the supply of the fruit. The diet involved eating bananas for breakfast with room temperature water or milk, a regular lunch and dinner, along with unlimited bananas for snacks in between. Sweet items of any kind were a strict no-no.
The recent 30BaD (30 bananas a day diet) and the Banana Island diet became a talking point on social networking sites. The promoter, an Australian fitness freak who likes to call herself Banana Girl, recommends getting 97% of your daily calories from bananas and the other three percent from greens, nuts and seeds. Her YouTube channel – with videos of her wolfing down 51 bananas in one sitting – has 350,000 followers.
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So, should you eat bananas and nothing else?
Doctors say no. Any “mono diet” can be harmful as it can deprive the body of vital nutrients if followed for a long period.
Experts recommend a banana each day, preferably in the morning. A medium-sized banana for breakfast gives you 3 grams of fibre, which is sure to suppress your appetite and lead to an overall reduction of calories through the day.
Try it when you are hankering for a sweet ending to any meal. Even sniffing it may do the trick! A study performed at the Smell and Taste Research Foundation in Chicago revealed that the unique fragrance of banana can trick your brain into thinking that you have actually eaten it.
We recommend this breakfast recipe to add a spot of cheer to any morning:
Banana and wheat pancakes
1 ripe banana
¾ cup wheat flour
3-4 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons oil
Mash banana with a fork till it is smooth. Whisk the mashed banana, flour and egg together in a big bowl. Add milk slowly as you whip the mixture into a fine batter.
Heat oil in a non-stick pan.
Pour a dollop of the batter on the pan and spread. This batter makes 3-4 pancakes.
Cook till the bottom is golden brown and then flip the pancake.
Serve the pancakes with a dash of honey.