One of the most commonly available fruits in all parts of India, and across seasons, happens to be the banana. However, there are many myths about the fruit, which is a favourite among the young and old equally. Some say that bananas should not be eaten by the elderly and that it is not suitable for their health. But it is also true that banana happens to be a part of most of the cultural and traditional activities across India as well. Most auspicious occasions see banana being used. It is also used in cooking and baking, and a couple of conventional desserts too. A banana after a meal is a common practice in many parts of India.
Interestingly, there are many varieties of the banana available in India; almost every region in India has a variety that is popular and readily available in that part. Most importantly, being one of the most affordable fruits in India, this finds its place among the daily diet of many households in India. There are about 20 different varieties of banana available in India.
Well, you may be surprised to know the names and varieties of banana that are available across the different states in India. The Andhra region sees varieties like Rasthali, Amritpant, Thellachakrakeli, Chakrakeli, Monthan, and Yenagu Bontha. Some of the varieties in Assam are Jahaji, Chini Champa, Malbhog, Honda, Manjahaji, Jatikol and Bharat Moni. In Bihar, you get China, Chini Champa, Kothia, Malbhig, Muthia, and Gauria, etc. Basrai, and Singapuri are available in Jharkhand, while in Karnataka, you have Rasthali, Poovan, Monthan, and Elakkibale. Kerala has the unique Nendran (Plantain), as well as Palayankodan (Poovan), Rasthali, Monthan, and the Red Banana.
In Gujarat, you have Lacatan, Harichal (Lokhandi), Gandevi Selection, Basrai, and Shrimati to gorge on. Madhya Pradesh has Basrai, while in Maharashtra you get varieties like Shreemanti, Basrai, Robusta, Lal Velchi, Safed Velchi, Rajeli Nendran, Grand Naine, and Red Banana. You find Virupakshi, Poovan, Rasthali, Monthan, Karpuravalli, Sakkai, Peyan, and Matti, etc. Dwarf Cavendish and Robusta are common across many states.
The health benefits
Perhaps you have seen athletes eat bananas, especially during tennis matches, you see the players eat bananas. This is because it provides instant energy minus the fat and cholesterol. So, what are the health benefits of bananas and are they good or bad for seniors? Because they are low in fat and high on nutrients, it is actually supposed to be a tasty snack for seniors, unless they have diabetes and advised otherwise by the doctor. Even for diabetics, eating in moderation is not considered to be dangerous; but this is dependent on the individual and hence should be checked with your physician. One banana can provide a good percentage of the daily required intakes of the various nutrients like Copper, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C. They also contain vital antioxidants as well as, include dopamine!
Potassium deficiency can cause a lot of health issue to our body, as it is essential for cardiac as well as muscle function. The Potassium in bananas travels throughout the body through the bloodstream and relieves the blood pressure through the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels. Also, the Vitamin B6, as well as the antioxidants, help protect against the cognitive decline.
Another important Vitamin – Vitamin C, is also present in bananas and can help you with cell and tissue damage, and also support brain health. This helps produce serotonin, the hormone that affects our sleep, moods, stress, etc. Also, Vitamin C helps our body produce collagen that holds our skin and bones together. Even the Manganese in bananas helps produce collagen and protects against free radicals.
Considering that constipation is one of the most troubling issues in old age, bananas help restore the bowel movements, and this is something that Indians have followed for years. The fibre content in bananas helps the movement of the food through the intestinal tract. Also, the fibre in bananas is the slow digestive type and keeps you full for a while, and hence, a healthy snack, that stops overeating and getting obese. So, the verdict seems to be that it is ok to Go Bananas (albeit in moderation)!