Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Wonder Fruit called Banana

I grew up having the knowledge of the word “banana” with different connotations other than the true meaning of the word itself. The word “banana” has also been a subject or part of jokes I’ve heard, like “You have to eat a lot of bananas to prevent balding.” If someone asks why, “Have you seen any bald monkeys around?” Or, “You have to eat bananas to cure acne or pimples.” Again if asks why, “Monkeys does not have acne or pimples.”

 In the Philippines, Bananas and a lot of fruit grows in abundance, which made my childhood and growing up years very pleasant. I rarely remember our dining table without a fruit and banana is often if not always on our table to serve as dessert. Aside from being affordable and it’s sweet taste Bananas are a good natural source of Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C, Potassium, Dietary Fiber and Manganese.

A year ago I rushed my precious mother to a hospital because of her Hypertension. Her daily intake of her medications and maintenance medicine did little to control her blood pressure. This lead me to research around the internet for a natural or alternative solution to her problem, and my research lead me to the Miracle Fruit called Banana.

Bananas are one of the best natural source of Potassium, which is a very essential mineral in maintaining blood pressure and heart function. A banana a day may help prevent high blood pressure and protect us from Atherosclerosis and eating high fiber food helps prevent heart disease. The potassium found in bananas may also help promote bone health, which made it the most viable solution to my mother’s case who also suffers from Osteoarthritis. The potassium may also help counteract the increased urinary calcium loss caused by my mother’s high-salt diet during her younger years.

Moreover, this wonder fruit has been long recognized for its antacid effect that protects against ulcers and ulcer damage this is due to the compounds found in banana  called protease inhibitors help eliminate bacteria which is the primary cause of stomach ulcers.

The soluble fiber in the banana called hydrocolloid helps normalize movement through the digestive tract and ease constipation. And recently, I read that some banana variety are also rich in provitamin A carotenoids, which studies have shown to protect against chronic disease, including certain type of cancers, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

As I pointed out earlier the Philippines is gifted with an abundance of fruits and thankfully this Wonder Fruit called Banana. We have five (6) varieties-that I am aware of:

Lakatan or Lacatan-it is charecterized by its sweet taste and firm texture when ripe. It is more expensive than the other bananas, most specially the ones that was cultivated in Davao or what we fondly called Saging na Davao.

Latundan or the Apple Bananas-often referred to as Apple Bananas or silk bananas, or manzana bananas. It is smaller than the Lacatan and the flesh is whiter compared to the yellow flesh of Lacatan.

SeƱorita-it is a very small but stout variety of banana, it has thin skin that clings tightly to the flesh of the fruit. However, this is incredibly sweet and creamy than all the bananas I tasted but because I find it hard to peel the skin I prefer eating other varieties.

Gloria-this is the newest variety of bananas I am aware of. It has red skin and it’s as big as the Lakatan but it is stout. It has white flesh that feels like Lakatan and tastes sweet like  Latundan. This variety according to the Vendor I bought it from, told me that it was a variety named after our former President Gloria Arroyo and it is believed to prevent heart ailments.

Butuan-taken from the word “Buto” meaning seeds. It is a large banana with plenty of large seeds the size of mongo beans, that if eaten you will have to spit the seeds. I have only eaten this variety twice in my life because this is rarely sold in the market, the ones I have tasted came from friends who got them from their own plantations. It is sweeter than the Latundan and I like it even more than the Lakatan despite of its seeds, unfortunately they don’t sell this kind at the market.

Saba-this is the cooking banana. I buy this kind for “Matamis na Saging” wherein you make a syrup out of sugar and water and cook the banana in, after cooling you can top the banana and syrup with shaved ice and milk and you will have a “Saging con Hielo” which a a famous Filipino dessert. I sometimes boil beef and add Saba and Sweet Potatoes to it for a tastier, sweeter taste, this is truly a Filipino “Nilagang Baka.” This variety is also the ones made into Banana Chips and Banana cake.

My primary aim in writing this blog is to give thanks to this Wonder Fruit that worked miracles in my mother. Now her blood pressure is manageable and she is getting stronger because of this Wonder Fruit. So move over Apple! Because A Banana a day keeps the hospital at bay!