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Sunday, July 12, 2015

BANANA - EATING ADVANTAGE


BANANA (Musa spp) is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows from the underground rhizome. It flourishes well under tropical, moisture-rich, humid, low-lying farmlands. Malaysia grow for more than 31,500 hectare of banana annually for domestic and export market. The popular variety planted by farmers are Pisang Berangan, Pisang Nipah, Pisang Rastali, Pisang Mas, Pisang Tanduk and many others. From DOA reported about 16 banana varieties are registered in National Plant Variety Listing. Banana has unique growth characteristics. In fact, the whole plant is a false stem (pseudostem). This pseudostem is consisting of broad leaves, together with their long petioles, overlapping each other in a disc-like fashion. The whole plant may reach upto 2 to 6 meters tall from the ground surface depending upon the cultivar types. At maturity, the rhizome gives rise to a flower (inflorescence) which is carried up along true core stem (smooth un-branched stem) which pass through the centre of pseudostem. The flower finally emerges out at the top in-between leaf clusters. The inflorescence subsequently develops to a huge hanging bunch, consisting of 3 to 20 hands (tiers), with each hand carrying at least 5-10 fingers (fruits). This article in "Anim Agriculture Technology" about banana nutrition value.

There are several cultivars of banana that comes in different size (4”-9”inch), color (yellow to brown), weight (70-150g) and taste. Structurally, it has a protective outer skin layer and delicious, sweet and tart, creamy-white edible flesh inside.  Plantains are other cultivar types more often known as cooking bananas. They closely related to familiar fruit banana or dessert banana. Plantains are used as a staple diet in many parts of tropical African and Caribbean regions as well as in Thailand, Laos, and other Southeast Asian parts. When a banana plant is mature, the corm stops producing new leaves and begins to form a flower spike or inflorescence. A stem develops which grows up inside the pseudostem, carrying the immature inflorescence until eventually it emerges at the top. Each pseudostem normally produces a single inflorescence, also known as the "banana heart". (More are sometimes produced; an exceptional plant in the Philippines produced five. After fruiting, the pseudostem dies but offshoots will normally have developed from the base, so that the plant as a whole is perennial. In the plantation system of cultivation, only one of the offshoots will be allowed to develop in order to maintain spacing.The inflorescence contains many bracts (sometimes incorrectly referred to as petals) between rows of flowers. The female flowers (which can develop into fruit) appear in rows further up the stem (closer to the leaves) from the rows of male flowers. The ovary is inferior, meaning that the tiny petals and other flower parts appear at the tip of the ovary.
The banana fruits develop from the banana heart, in a large hanging cluster, made up of tiers (called "hands"), with up to 20 fruit to a tier. The hanging cluster is known as a bunch, comprising 3–20 tiers, or commercially as a "banana stem", and can weigh 30–50 kg. Individual banana fruits (commonly known as a banana or "finger") average 125 gm of which approximately 75% is water and 25% dry matter.The fruit has been described as a "leathery berry". There is a protective outer layer (a peel or skin) with numerous long, thin strings (the phloem bundles), which run lengthwise between the skin and the edible inner portion. The inner part of the common yellow dessert variety can be split lengthwise into three sections that correspond to the inner portions of the three carpels by manually deforming the unopened fruit.[19] In cultivated varieties, the seeds are diminished nearly to non-existence; their remnants are tiny black specks in the interior of the fruit.

 

Health benefits of banana fruit as one of the most popular fruit throughout the world are well known. Banana is one of the high calorie, tropical fruits. 100 grams of fruit carry 90 calories. Besides, it contains good amount of health benefiting anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Banana fruit is composed of soft, easily digestible flesh made up of simple sugars like fructose and sucrose that upon consumption instantly replenishes energy and revitalizes the body. Thus, for these qualities, bananas are being used by athletes to get instant energy and as supplement food in the treatment plan for underweight children. The fruit holds a good amount of soluble dietary fiber (7% of DRA per 100 g) that helps normal bowel movements; thereby reducing constipation problems. It contains health promoting flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zea-xanthin, ß and a-carotenes, albeit, in small amounts. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.

Banana is good source of vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine); provides about 28% of daily-recommended allowance. Pyridoxine is an important B-complex vitamin that has beneficial role for the treatment of neuritis, and anemia. Further, it helps decrease homocystine (one of the triggering factor in coronary artery disease (CHD) and stroke episodes) levels within the human body. The fruit is also a moderate source of vitamin-C (about 8.7 mg per 100g). Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.  Fresh bananas provide adequate levels of minerals like copper, magnesium, and manganese. Magnesium is essential for bone strengthening and has a cardiac-protective role as well. Manganese is utilized as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Fresh banana is a very rich source of potassium. 100 g fruit provides 358 mg potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure, countering bad effects of sodium.

Once ripen, bananas are very fragile and start decaying in short span of time. In the field, mature bananas generally harvested while they are still raw green and firm which makes them easier for transportation. In order to ripen, they usually subjected to ethylene spray or kept in close proximity with other ripe fruits. In the stores, choose banana fruits based on when you want to use them; greener ones should last for more days, while yellow and brown-spotted bananas should be eaten in a few days. Ready to eat bananas should be bright yellow, and emanate rich fruity aroma. Ripe banana peels off easily. Ripe, fresh fruits are nutritionally enriched and sweeter in taste than unripe, raw green ones. Avoid mushy or damaged bananas, as they are un-appealing. Bananas come with nature gifted protective outer layer of skin, and therefore, less likely to be contaminated by germs and dust.


Eat banana fruit as it is without any additions. Just discard its peel and enjoy. Fresh "banana-milkshake" with sugar syrup is a refreshing drink. Bananas have also been used to prepare fruit jams. Grilled banana fruit can be served on cake/ ice cream in the Caribbean style dessert. Banana chips (plantain) enjoyed as snack (produced from dehydrated or fried banana or plantain slices). Mashed ripe banana fruits can be added to cakes, casseroles, muffins, bread-pudding, etc. Plantains and raw unripe banana can be employed as vegetable in recipes. Safety profile fpr consume banana, oftentimes, banana fruits known to cause skin and systemic allergic reactions in sensitive persons. The fruit may be the cause of "oral allergy syndrome" in which the symptoms may include itching and swelling around the mouth or throat within hours after ingestion. The condition may be related to birch tree and other pollen allergies. The other type of allergic reaction is related to latex. The symptoms may include urticaria and sometimes potentially serious gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. That all folks!.


By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Precint 11, Putrajaya,
Malaysia.
(4 Rejab 1436H)

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