50 Facts About Bananas


50 facts about bananas

If you ask anyone to name a fruit, someone is bound to mention “banana”. Bananas have become a staple food in many countries, and their odd shapes don’t seem to put us off! But who’d’ve thought bananas could be interesting inside and out. Read on to learn 50 facts about Bananas.

Fact 1: Nearly all of the bananas that you can buy in supermarkets (the Cavendish type) are just clones of each other. They’re all technically from a single plant.

  • This variety is favoured by consumers because they don’t have big seeds, unlike wild bananas.
  • You could easily wipe out these ‘favourite bananas’, by stopping their genetic mutation. 

Fact 2: Before the Cavendish, another variety of Bananas dominated the market: the Gros Michel. This type was favoured globally until it was caught in a fungus struggle.

  • Just like Cavendish, the Gros Michel bananas were all perfect clones of each other. They were preferred over Cavendish because they were larger and they didn’t go off as fast.
  • In the 1950’s they were badly affected by the Panama disease, a plant disease that affects the banana plant.

Fact 3: There are almost 1000 varieties of bananas but most of them are unpalatable.

  • Most wild bananas have big seeds and are different shapes.
  • They are prone to fast ripening and rotting, that’s why they’re not good for exporting.

Fact 4: Bananas are the 4th largest agricultural product to be eaten and exported. 

  • 95% of bananas consumed globally are Cavendish.
  • They are eaten and transported all over the globe, and will survive long enough in export vehicles, if they are in the right conditions.

Fact 5: Americans love bananas! The average consumption is 26.2 pounds per year!

  • They eat bananas more than any other fruit.
  • Their yearly consumption of bananas, is more than apples and oranges combined!

Fact 6: Banana plants are not trees, they’re more like ‘herbs’.

  • Bananas are grown from bulbs or rhizomes, and take about 9-12 months to grow. 
  • It’s considered as the largest ‘herbaceous’ plant in the world.

Fact 7: Eating a banana can literally cheer you up as it contains ‘tryptophan’ and ‘vitamin B6’.

  • ‘Tryptophan’, and ‘vitamin B6’, both help the body to produce the hormone serotonin- the natural chemical in the body that makes us happy.
  • This same amino acid is also found in Prozac, a common medication for depression.

Fact 8: When bananas are travelling to the UK and Europe, they are taken to ports where they are packed onto ‘reefers’. The temperature while on these ‘reefers’ must not exceed 13.3 °C.

  • In a 2012 survey by PMA, bananas took a 30% share of all the fruits imported into the UK.
  • Apples were second. 

Fact 9: Bananas can help heal your splinter injuries and to fix your skipping DVD’s.

  • If you have a splinter, rub a banana peel onto the sore part. Doing this will loosen the foreign fragment stuck underneath and will heal your wound.
  • The same principle also applies to your skipping DVD’s. Rubbing the skin onto the disc fills in any scratches, without damaging the plastic.

Fact 10: Banana peels can clean stains, whiten teeth, and a lot more!

  • Banana peels have been used to remove clothing stains, polish shoes, and whiten teeth.
  • It can also be used as a water purifier, and as a fertilizer.

Fact 11: There was once a museum that held more than 17,000 artifacts related to bananas.

  • The now-defunct ‘International Banana Club and Museum’, was once the title holder in the Guinness World Records, as the largest collection of artifacts dedicated to 1 fruit.
  • It was sold in 2010 and is no longer connected to Bananas.

Fact 12: There was a scientist in the 18th century that believed the Biblical ‘Forbidden Fruit’ was not an apple, but a banana!

  • He believed that a normal person would not be able to reach an apple, so a banana was more plausible.
  • Banana leaves are larger than apple tree leaves, meaning they would have been a better replacement for clothing as well. 

Fact 13: Nutritionists debate whether a banana is healthy for your body or not.

  • While it has been established that a banana is low in calories, and has a lot of other minerals that your body needs, it contains around 27g of carbohydrates and 14g of sugar.
  • They believe that once the carbohydrates reach your bloodstream, they will be turned into sugar that will spike your sugar level, thus boosting your appetite. It will then lead to more cravings and eventual weight gain. 

Fact 14: Bananas are radioactive. Bananas contain an unstable radioactive isotope: potassium-40.

  • Being radioactive means, when an isotope breaks down to its stable form it emits radiation.
  • However, it’s almost impossible to consume enough bananas in one sitting to experience any radioactive effects. You would need to eat at least 10 million bananas, in one go, to experience some kind of harm!

Fact 15: There is a compound in bananas, named ‘isopentyl acetate’, that can make bees go mad enough to attack you.

  • Since bees rely on pheromones to communicate, bees go crazy when they’re near bananas because they mistake the ‘isopentyl acetate’ from bananas, as their own signal to attack.
  • It’s best to go for ripe bananas as the compound will have faded slightly.

Fact 16: A person from the UK decided to run a marathon dressed as a banana! He holds the fastest recorded finish time for doing it in this manner: 2 hours, 47 minutes, and 41 seconds.

  • Andrew Lawrence, from the UK, set the record when he ran in the London Marathon on April 24, 2016.
  • He ran for a total of 26.2 miles, an impressive feat considering that he was wearing a hot, and heavy costume.

Fact 17: There is a ‘red’ banana, which is a member of the ‘Musa Acuminata’ species.

  • Although it’s called ‘red’, its colour can also range from pink to purple.
  • The unripe ‘red’ banana is bitter and starchy. A ripe one has a hint of strawberry and raspberry taste.

Fact 18: The correct way to peel a banana is not from the stem, but from the dark tip.

  • Common sense might dictate that the handle part is the best way to peel a banana, but that’s inefficient.
  • Bananas grow upside down making the black tip its strongest part. Hence why you should peel it from this point.

Fact 19: Some smugglers use banana boxes to transport large volumes of drugs, like cocaine.

  • Because bananas are always in-demand, it’s not uncommon to see loads of export boxes, so the contents are rarely questioned.
  • There have been instances when the wrong boxes have been delivered. An Aldi store in Berlin found cocaine inside their banana boxes.

Fact 20: Bananas can cure headaches: simply stick the peel on your forehead.

  • It’s said that a headache will vanish if you tape a banana peel onto your forehead, and another one at the back of your head.
  • It might sound miraculous but the science is plain and simple, you might be suffering from low potassium and you’re not aware of it.

Fact 21: Ripe bananas with dark spots have ‘Tumor Necrosis Factor’ that combats cancer cells.

  • In fact, the darker the spots, the higher its ability to fight cancer cells.
  • Many organic centres around the globe use ripe bananas to treat their patients.

Fact 22: The scientific name of bananas, ‘Musa Sapientum’, literally translates to “fruit of the wise men.”

  • Bananas share almost 50% of their DNA with humans.
  • Humans only share 1% of their DNA with their 3rd cousins. 

Fact 23: Bananas are believed to have been in existence for 10,000 years already.

  • There are some debates in the scientific world that bananas could have been the first fruit.
  • The first bananas were grown in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Fact 24: It was Alexander the Great who introduced bananas to the Western world.

  • In 327 BC, when Alexander the Great conquered India, he found bananas in an Indian valley.
  • When he tasted the banana, he liked the taste of it and he brought some back home so others could have a taste.

Fact 25: Bananas stop producing leaves when they reach maturity. Instead, they start producing a flower.

  • This flower, also known as the banana’s ‘heart’, will be the source of the banana fruit.
  • The banana ‘heart’ is made up of multiple tiers, with around 20 bananas per tier.

Fact 26: When bananas are exported, they are actually still green and unripened.

  • They will ripen when they arrive at their destination, in an airtight room.
  • The room will then be filled with ‘ethylene gas’ to speed up the process of ripening, giving the banana its bright yellow colour.

Fact 27: Bananas are grown in more than 150 countries.

  • The main exporter of bananas is India, having 45% of the international share.
  • It’s followed by China, Uganda, and the Philippines.

Fact 28: The use of ‘the slippery banana peel’ as a tool in slapstick comedy started in the early 1890s.

  • It was considered a public hazard in the latter part of the 19th century.
  • However, because of the growing popularity of bananas, and the number of accidents caused by the peel, people on the television started to use it as a comedic device.

Fact 29: Bananas are rich in potassium but low in sodium.

  • Meaning bananas are healthy for your heart, as it helps reduce high blood pressure.
  • Potassium is an ‘electrolyte’, that keeps electrical impulses flowing in our bodies.

Fact 30: Bananas can help you relax and fall asleep.

  • Since bananas are rich in ‘vitamin B6’, this regulates melatonin in the body and helps people fall asleep.
  • Also, it has a high magnesium content, a natural muscle relaxant helping you to fall asleep faster.

Fact 31: Although a banana is low in calcium, it’s better for your bones than milk!

  • Although the reason behind it is more complex than this, the short version is, bananas contain ‘fructooligosaccharides’.
  • ‘Fructooligosaccharides’ is a carbohydrate that our bodies cannot digest, but it encourages ‘probiotics’ to grow, that makes it easier for our body to absorb calcium.

Fact 32: Bananas are good for your eyes because they have ‘vitamin A’.

  • Although it only contains a small amount of ‘vitamin A’, it can still help to improve your vision, especially at night.
  • ‘Vitamin A’ contains a compound that helps to preserve the function of the membranes around your eyes.

Fact 33: A Swedish study back in 2005 showed that bananas can help reduce the risk of cancer by as much as 50%.

  • In this study, women who ate between 6-7 bananas a week, demonstrated a significant reduction in acquiring kidney cancer.
  • However, eat bananas in moderation. If you eat 47 bananas in a short period of time, you’ll experience ‘hyperkalemia’. You’ll get irregular heartbeats, temporary paralysis, and weakness of the muscles.

Fact 34: Banana peels can be eaten and in fact, are very healthy too!

  • It is packed with vitamins ‘B6’ and ‘B12’.
  • But make sure that you wash it thoroughly if you are planning to eat the peel. It might still have traces of pesticides on it.

Fact 35: A bunch of bananas is called a hand, and individual bananas are called fingers.

  • A hand is pretty heavy. It can weigh up to 100 pounds.
  • A single hand can have around 400 fingers or around 40 layers of fingers!

Fact 36: Bananas are actually berries.

  • There are three conditions to be classified as a berry. Fruit needs to have an outer skin (exocarp), a fleshy middle (mesocarp), and a middle with seeds in it (endocarp).
  • Bananas satisfy all these conditions making it a berry. Although some well-known berries are not actual berries!

Fact 37: If you are allergic to latex, there is a 50% chance that you will also be allergic to bananas.

  •  Some proteins that are found in latex are also found in bananas.
  • The same protein is also found in other fruits such as kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes, plums, and avocados.

Fact 38: Ugandans eat more than 500 pounds of bananas each year.

  • They have the highest per capita consumption of bananas in the world, although they aren’t even in the top 5 banana producers.
  • It’s almost 20x as much as what the Americans consume in a year.

Fact 39: Green and yellow bananas have different starch and sugar contents.

  • Green bananas have more starch than yellow bananas.
  • As the bananas ripen, the starch turns to sugar giving the fruit a sweeter taste.

Fact 40: In Hinduism, female spirits called ‘Pontianak’ are believed to live inside banana trees.

  • These ‘Pontianaks’ are the ‘spirits’ of women who died during childbirth, and are terrorizing expectant Mothers.
  • However, banana trees can also represent the goddesses Lakshmi and Parvatis, in the Hindu belief system.

Fact 41: There was a banana plant in the Philippines that produced five hearts.

  • Normally, a banana plant will only produce one heart when it matures.
  • However, in 2008, a banana plant became an instant tourist spot because it produced 5 hearts instead of one. Locals interpreted it as a sign of good fortune.

Fact 42: Jules Verne, the author of ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’, helped to popularize bananas in the 1870s.

  • In his novel ‘Around the World in 80 Days’, he described bananas “as healthy as bread, and as succulent as cream.”
  • This sparked the interests of his french and American readers, suddenly increasing the demand for bananas.

Fact 43: It is not true that bananas contain a load of potassium: it only has 422 mg!

  • Therefore, it only makes up around 9% of the daily recommended intake of potassium. 
  • There are other vegetables and fruits that have a higher potassium total like spinach, peaches, and apricots.

Fact 44: Bananas are not only food but can be other things as well!

  • In Latin America, it’s normal to use banana leaves as a makeshift umbrella.
  • In the Philippines, banana fibres are turned to cloth called ‘agna’, which is often used to make handkerchiefs and skirts.

Fact 45: Bananas are natural enhancers and can be a substitute for carbohydrate-rich sports drinks.

  • In a study by Appalachians State University, it was found that consuming half a banana every 15 minutes is just as effective as a sports drink.
  • It’s better because it also contains antioxidants that can help with recoveries.

Fact 46: Bananas are a good source of ‘Vitamin C’! A banana can provide you with 15% of your daily recommended intake!

  • It has almost the same potency as oranges and strawberries.
  • ‘Vitamin C’ is important in fighting free radicals in the body and helping inflammation subside.

Fact 47: Bananas can be ripened at home using a paper bag.

  • If you want to speed up the ripening process of a banana, just put it in a paper bag with an apple or tomato.
  • Removing a banana from its handle or cluster, slows down the ripening process.

Fact 48: Over 100 billion bananas are eaten globally every year.

  • Making it the most popular fruit in the world, and no other fruit even comes close.
  • Almost 50% of this number is consumed during breakfast.

Fact 49: In some countries, the term ‘banana’ is changed. Some countries call bananas that are too be cooked “plantains.”

  • In some areas, bananas are deep-fried and called ‘banana chips’. Bananas can also be used in soup dishes.
  • In Southeast Asia, it is very common to eat ‘banana pancakes’ for breakfast.

Fact 50: Many people tried to get ‘high’ using banana peels in the 1960s!

  • There are different explanations for this. Some say that this trend was due to a fake article published in a magazine, while others attributed it to Country singer Joe McDonald.
  • Regardless, the FDA found no evidence to support the claim.

References:

Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4

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