Bananas are convenient, no-muss no-fuss fruits available all year. They are also highly nutritious and are easily digested by nearly everyone, including infants and the elderly. It’s no wonder that Americans have made bananas their favorite fruit. In fact, Americans consume about 11 pounds per capita each year, according to the USDA.
Bananas are not typically grown in the United States; just a few hundred acres are cultivated in Florida. Rather, bananas are grown in tropical regions such as Central and South America, and are shipped to northern ports on a grand scale. Because of their abundance, intense competition among growers, and cheap land and labor, bananas remain moderately priced.
Types of Bananas
There are more than 500 types of bananas, although only a few make it to the market.
Bananas have earned the status of an ideal food. They contain less water than most other fruits, so their carbohydrate content, by weight, is higher. That’s one reason that some endurance athletes eat bananas as snacks. Along with helping to replenish the body’s store of carbohydrates, bananas provide substantial amounts of potassium, a mineral that is lost during bouts of physical activity, yet is vital for controlling the body’s fluid balance.
Potassium also is required to regulate heartbeat and blood pressure. In older people, potassium may help to reduce the risk of fatal stroke. Bananas are also excellent sources of vitamin B6, and they contain a type of soluble fiber called pectin, which helps to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.
For a full listing of nutrients, see Bananas in the National Nutrient Database.
How to Choose and Cook with Bananas
Bananas are a nutritious fruit that can also add sweet creaminess to many cooked dishes.
Published February 05, 2016