Where did the expression “going bananas” first started? Or if it means going crazy over bananas or using bananas to calm a person down, then I can understand why it makes sense since this delicious fruit provides so many life saving benefits to us.
The month of February is considered “Heart Healthy” month in the USA especially for women, (in realty every month should be) and Bananas are considered one of the most heart healthy fruit there is, so this entire post is on the many ways bananas can improve heart health. (And by the end of this article you will not only have improved your mood, but you will be dancing which is also vital to heart health. So keep reading all the way to the end, then get up and dance along.)
This simple fruit is packed with nutrition and has been a staple food for many countries around the world throughout many generations. There is a Indian legend that says that a banana was the fruit in the Garden of Eden that Eve told Adam to take a bite of, (could have been, but nothing was wrong with the fruit it was their obedience that was being tested) so in India bananas are called the “Fruit of Paradise”.
Bananas are loaded with potassium, manganese, Vitamin C, vitamin B6 and fiber. They are very portable, easy to take with you anywhere, very filling and can be eaten even while on the run. Unlike most fruits which have seeds or are juicy, bananas are solid, and just need to be peeled and eaten while holding the unpeeled potion without getting any fruit on hands.
I love bananas since I grew up on a little Caribbean island where from childhood bananas was a part of our daily diet. Dad used to get the large green bunches just like they grow on the trees, and hang the green bunch up in the corner of the kitchen to gradually ripe. As soon as they were yellow and ripe to eat, he would take the bunch down and put on the kitchen table and all us kids would start picking a banana to eat, and within a week the whole bunch would disappear. Bananas were a daily part of our morning breakfast and up to this very day I eat a banana every single morning for breakfast after my exercise program.(see previous post: Setting the mood for each day starts with the right attitude) Flying off the handle in fits of anger, or when under stress raises the blood pressure which affects the heart. (See previous post: Raging Moving Volcanos, Explosive Hot Tempers – Dangerous Health Hazards leading to premature death.) Some people may not know that bananas can help calm their nerves, enhance their mood and acts as a natural sedative. (Maybe that is where the slogan “Go Bananas came from”). Bananas help calm rattled nerves because they contain tryptophan which produces serotonin, the feel good hormone in the body which has a calming sedative effect on the brain.
This is what puts us in a good mood, making it easier to deal with stressful situations. So they have the same effect as exercise or laughter on our mood. Bananas are also a great source of energy.
One banana provides all the nutrients of an energy bar without the extra calories and cost. Years ago I was working temporary in a Law Firm in New York City and one of the young attorneys in the firm everyday always had two or three ripe yellow bananas on his desk. During the day he would eat these bananas as he did his work and even most times skipped lunch and just ate bananas.
I used to jokingly warn him to not leave his desk with those bananas there since I also was a lover of bananas and might just grab one when he was gone. He was very pleasant, and always said something humorous back in return. I didn’t know back then that bananas had all the nutrients above as well as a calming effect on our brains and moods. Or whether that attorney himself knew, or was just eating them because he loved bananas. But now I understand how they no doubt contributed to his calm disposition and helped keep him sane inspite of whatever difficult cases he was handling. 1st. with Potassium. And this is one of the greatest benefits of eating bananas. They are loaded with potassium, necessary to regulate high blood pressure. High blood pressure has been called the “Silent Killer” since someone can have it without any symptoms or even know they have it. One young woman in my neighborhood a couple of years ago collapsed on her way to work right on the street just before she got to the subway station.
When they called the ambulance and took her to the emergency room, she found out she had suffered a stroke, leaving her entire left side paralyzed. She was diagnosed with high blood pressure as the cause and didn’t know she had it, or even suspected it since she was only fifty years old and wasn’t overweight and had no symptoms. It is always good to have a yearly medical check-up or even twice a year, and today we can even take our own blood pressure since the instruments can be bought at most Pharmacy’s or Drugstores.
Studies show a potassium rich diet can reduce the risk of stroke by 22 to 40 percent. One medium size banana provides about 420 mg of potassium. Recent guidelines from the Institute of Medicine recommend getting at least 4.7 grams (4.700 mg) of potassium a day. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet also recommends 4,700 mg of potassium – and includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially bananas. An Indian study found that eating just two bananas a day can lower blood pressure by 10 percent.
2nd: with Fiber: Other nutrients in bananas contribute to lowering high blood pressure as well. A recent Tulane analysis of 25 studies found that boosting our fiber intake can significantly lower blood pressure. People who benefited ate between 7 and 19 grams of dietary fiber a day for at least eight weeks. One medium banana gives us 3 grams of fiber. A banana’s combination of necessary carbohydrates, simple sugars and dietary fiber provides energy needed for physical activity.
Other Star nutrient: Vitamin C: also helps with high blood pressure by keeping our arteries flexible.
The fiber content in bananas also reduces the risk of heart disease. Fiber rich diets have also been linked to lower risk of coronary heart disease and of type 2 diabetes. Besides controlling high blood pressure potassium is essential for proper muscle contraction – the normal rhythmic pumping of the heart, digestion, muscular movements are all controlled by potassium which plenty of can be found in bananas. Bananas are also a great source of vitamin B6. According to the American Heart Association, B vitamins help break down homocysteine – an amino acid that at high levels is related to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
B6 also plays a role in converting tryptophan to serotonin, (the good calming feeling mentioned above) and also helps the body make hemoglobin, a crucial ingredient of blood. Vitamin B6 is also essential for antibody production and to maintain a healthy immune response. It also helps to convert carbohydrates to glucose and thereby regulates proper blood sugar levels. A medium banana can take care of 1/5 of our daily recommended intake of Vitamin B6 and is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to increase our dietary intake of this vitamin.
A University of California San Francisco study found that potassium helps prevent calcium loss caused by a high-salt diet. This important mineral potassium, may also counteract the negative effects of a high-protein diet. Bananas are loaded with Vitamin C as mentioned previously and also Manganese which both play important roles in maintaining bone health.
Warning: Don’t disrespect Bananas by discarding of their skins on the streets or sidewalk. Walking and slipping on a banana skin can result in serious falls where some people have broken hips, arms, legs and injured other bodily parts. So please always put their skins in a trash bin or in some Caribbean and African countries banana skins are dried, rolled, painted and form into beautiful jewelry! Another useful benefit of this delicious fruit.
Foods rich in potassium may reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. In fact studies show that a high intake of potassium, from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can slash our risk of stones by 30 to 50 percent (30 to 50%).
Bananas can also relieve the discomfort of diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems. After a bout with diarrhea or vomiting, once you can eat solid food again, soft, bland foods like bananas give you the nutrients you need without upsetting your stomach
Even if someone has a more serious condition like colitis, bananas can be an important part of a safe, bland diet. The potassium in bananas also helps protect our intestine. More protection may come from substances called fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS). Also known as prebiotics, these molecules stimulate the growth of probiotics, good bacteria that ward off harmful bacteria.
Even babies once they are old enough to start eating more solid food, can be fed bananas. These can be mashed and added to their milk, or fed with a spoon. Or even blended or made into a smoothie and fed to young children just like adults. Or they can be given a banana after it was peeled so they can hold it in their own little hands and eat. (remember I mentioned above how I have been eating bananas from a child up to this day).
One study found that green bananas, which are different from unripe bananas, might help treat children with persistent diarrhea. Bananas can help thicken the stool (of adults also) which helps prevent fecal incontinence, or loss of bowel control.
They can be included in baked goods. Sandwiches, smoothies: Banana Bread, cookies, Banana fritters (made the same way as pancakes just add mashed ripe bananas), Banana muffins and doughnuts, Banana smoothies, (can add other fruits for a very nutritional smoothie).
Banana and nut sandwiches, great for kids, just take two slices of whole grain bread, toast lightly if preferred, spread with all natural peanut, almond or any nut butter, add slices of bananas on top of the nut butter, drizzle with some honey and put the other slice bread on top. Delicious to add to children’s lunch box, or eaten as an adult.
Frozen snacks. Another good banana snack that can be eaten like an ice cream sandwich is to coat bananas with smelted chocolate, might like to sprinkle with crushed nuts, and put in the freezer. When frozen can be eaten like an ice cream sandwich. This is another great healthy snack for children or even adults. Bananas can be added to other puddings such as Sweet potatoes and pumpkin pudding mentioned in a previous post of: “Would you like a little wine with that?“
Casseroles: And a favorite of mine is the Banana and Sweet Potatoes casserole. Very easy to make: Boil Caribbean type sweet potatoes. They are usually purple on the outside, slice the potatoes. Grease a glass casserole bowl lightly with olive oil, spread slices of sweet potatoes on the bottom of this see through glass casserole, sprinkle with some salt, put slices of ripe bananas on top of the sweet potatoes, drizzle with honey or Agave nectar if prefer.
Add more slices of sweet potatoes on top of the bananas. Repeat the above, and keep alternating layers of sweet potatoes and bananas finishing with the bananas on top. Now squeeze the juice of an orange over the entire casserole and bake in an oven until the top bananas layer are golden brown and the casserole seems to be set. Can be serve as a side dish with bake chicken, turkey or any other lean meat.
Even though I concentrated on just the benefits of just one fruit, the banana, you know that for total good health we need to be balanced, not just eating one fruit only, but all fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are designed for our total health. In Genesis 1:29 God in talking to the first man and woman said: “Here I have given you all vegetation bearing seed which is on the surface of the whole earth and every tree on which there is a fruit of a tree bearing seed. To you let it serve as food”
And Genesis 2: 15-17: And Jehovah God proceeded to take the man and settle him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and to take care of it. And Jehovah God also laid this command upon the man: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.”
That beautiful Garden had even more nutritional fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts than we have today since they were pure and were recently created by God himself, and man’s continued existence and good health depended on his eating this nutritional diet given to him by his Creator.
So the “DASH DIET” mentioned above and that modern day doctors are claiming to have discovered was given to humans by God Himself, ever since man’s creation in the garden of Eden, and is nothing new. Even Scientist today are realizing that our physical good health really depended on eating the right foods from the earth.
But humans good health and the continued beating of their hearts forever also depended on spiritual food and a relationship with God. That is why a test was given to them to show that for their continued health and life they needed to obey the Creator.
Complete heart health comes from within the spiritual heart which leads to true happiness
So we see the results today even among people who have all the money in the world to eat the best of foods, are still under stress, unhappy and suffering from heart problems, cancers and other devastating diseases. A survey taken some time ago reveals that most modern American women, even though they have so much more materially than most women in other countries are not happy. And heart disease has become a major problem especially among women in the USA. The month of February is usually called the heart healthy month in the USA, to remind women to take care of their hearts by watching their diets and getting enough exercise.
But working on their spiritual health is completely ignored, which is the key needed to be truly happy. Because Happiness is not a destination depending on how healthy, white, rich, famous, or good looking we are, but it is a by product of doing things God’s Way! We cannot be happy if we completely ignore our spiritual hearts, that is where all good comes from, including complete good health.
Proverbs 17:22 “A heart that is joyful does good as a curer, but a spirit that is stricken makes the bones dry” And this sums up true heart health as coming from within, a person who has joy, which is a quality of God’s spirit in his or her life will improve their heart condition more so even if not eating all the right foods than someone who is always sad, angry, joyless or loveless and may be eating everything healthy. Haven’t you ever meet some physically beautiful women who are always angry, always cursing with obscene f… words flying out of their mouths like water? Even though they may be eating healthy and exercises their spiritual hearts are sick and eventually affect their physical one.
So strive to improve your over-all health, make bananas a daily part of a good diet but include all other fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. Improve your lifestyle, exercise, seek ways to bring joy and laughter into your life, (see previous post on Laughter: Laughter can replace most prescription drugs) become conscious of your spiritual needs, fill that need by seeking to find good answers to questions such as:
Why am I here? What causes suffering, diseases and death? Where am I going? Is there a God who really cares about me? When you seek to find answers to those questions, you are becoming conscious of your spiritual needs. Your heart develops a longing to find answers, and God himself who the Bible says eyes are searching hearts to see whom really wants to learn about him, will direct you to find the correct answers.
Joy will start to flow into your life, eventually true knowledge will replace all the anger, stress, worry and other negative things from your heart, and your literal heart will improve and so does your general health. For when you smile, so does your heart and this contributes to true heart health and overall good health.
The benefits of dancing as a great cardio exercise and one way to bring joy into your life
Look at the below videos one of Caribbean born Actor Harry Belafonte who first sang the Banana song. He no doubt made them a regular part of his diet, for even at the ripe age of 85 he still looks great, stands up straight and seems pretty healthy. In the video you will see shots of how banana trees grow, and how people for generations lived long simple lives and depended on the earth for food, bananas being a staple part of their diets.
Also the other one of African Zimbabwe women whose diet also consist of bananas among other natural foods, but otherwise live very simple lives, not having much in a material way. Still these people are happy and probably not fearful of any heart problems. They get most of their exercise through dancing. But look how happy and joyful they look, while dancing to a song about simple bananas.
As I mentioned in several previous posts I also find dancing to the same kind of music, the kind that makes you move your body, to be one of the most enjoyable Cardio exercises anyone can do. I spend one hour each morning dancing 4 times a week as part of my regular exercise program, and my cardiologist told me plainly I don’t need him, so save the visit. (see previous post: Setting the mood for each day starts with the right attitude).
It doesn’t matter how old you are dancing will improve your heart health. (Anyone who does no exercise at all, should first check with their doctor before proceeding on any vigorous exercise program, or start slowly). One way is because it brings joy into your life which also benefits the heart.
I know another lady in my congregation (Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses) who is of Latin Caribbean decent who is always so elegant, slim, and in shape with no belly fat at all, healthy with no heart problems, and she is probably in her late sixties or even seventies already. She has the body of a young woman in her twenties. But you will never guess her age, except for her beautiful gray hair. She said the only exercise she does is she dances all the time, everyday. It works!
African, Caribbean, and Latin women have used dancing with vigorous body and belly movements to stay slim throughout generations. Dancing is mostly part of our culture, it is only in recent times that others in Western countries realize how the movements they do in these dances really help keep stomach, waist and belly fat away.
Accumulation of fat around the waist, stomach and belly is what leads to high blood pressure and heart disease. Dancing with vigorous body movements will help rid the body of fat in these areas.
In New York City there are several African Exercise Dance classes where even many white women attend and I know some of them look fabulous. One white girl friend said she not only enjoy the way she looks, but how the music and dancing makes her feel, and puts her in a good mood, full of joy!
So watch the video below, and don’t read anything into the body movements, they are the kind of movements that is needed for keeping fat away from the danger zones of the heart, you don’t have to do them all, but moving the belly and waist is good for the heart. And that is the goal of all the above information, (both men and women can benefit from the above) if you try to do them all, eating a well balanced diet including bananas, improving your lifestyle, spirituality and dancing, practicing good body movement exercises, you will keep your heart healthy and happy all year long not just in the month of February. Look at below video and dance along!
Written and illustrated by: Glenda Brill©