Bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the world, but how much do we actually know about this yellow delicacy? In this article, we share 10 fun facts about bananas that may surprise you!
Bananas are Actually Berries
Although we often consider them a fruit, bananas are botanically berries. In the botanical world, berries are defined as fruits that come from flowering plants with multiple ovaries and contain their seeds internally.
The small black dots in the well-known Cavendish banana will not produce a plant if you plant them. However, wild banana species do contain larger seeds in their flesh. Similarly, pumpkins, melons, tomatoes, and cucumbers can be considered berries.
There are More Than 1,000 Types of Bananas
Most people are familiar with the Cavendish banana, but there are more than 300 different types of bananas that grow around the world. They vary in color, shape, and taste – from sweet to savory!
Bananas are Radioactive (but don’t worry!)
Bananas naturally contain a small amount of potassium-40, a radioactive isotope of potassium. However, the amount is so minimal that it poses no health hazard.
The Banana Plant is Not a Tree
Although the banana plant looks like a tree, it is actually an herbaceous plant. The “trunk” of the plant is actually a pseudostem, formed by overlapping leaves.
Are Bananas Healthy?
Bananas contain many important nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. These nutrients can contribute to a healthy heart, good digestion, a strong immune system, and a good energy balance. Bananas are also a good source of quick energy due to their natural sugars, making them an excellent choice for a snack.
Why Just One Banana a Day?
Although bananas are healthy, it’s important to have a balanced and varied diet. Too much of any one type of food can lead to an excess intake of certain nutrients and a deficiency in others. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, bananas contain natural sugars. While these sugars are not as harmful as added sugars, it’s still important to monitor their intake. One banana a day is a good guideline to ensure variety in your diet and to ensure that you’re not consuming too much natural sugar.
Even the Peel is Edible!
Did you know that the peel of a banana is edible and even very healthy? However, read the next banana fact if you’re going to eat the peels.
The peel of a banana is full of useful nutrients. These include vitamin B6, B12, potassium, and magnesium. Moreover, the banana peel contains phytochemicals, which are antioxidants that are also common in so-called ‘powerfoods’. We could actually consider the banana peel as a ‘superfood’ in itself.
Another advantage of eating the peel of a banana is that it contains a large amount of fiber. These fibers ensure that you feel full for longer, reducing the need to eat. This can contribute to a healthier eating pattern and possibly weight management.
Lots of Pesticides
And now the reasons why you shouldn’t just eat a banana peel right away. The cultivation of the Cavendish banana leads to environmental pollution due to the use of a large amount of pesticides. Cavendish bananas are very susceptible to diseases and fungi and are extensively treated with pesticides both during and after harvest. This is bad for the environment, and also for humans. The pesticides remain in the peel, and it is advisable to wash your hands after eating a banana. An option is to buy (more expensive) organic bananas.
The Popular Cavendish Banana is Threatened by a Fungus
The popular Cavendish banana is threatened by Panama disease. This disease is caused by a fungus called Fusarium oxysporum, which lives in the soil and infects the roots of banana plants. The disease can devastate entire plantations and is particularly difficult to combat.
In the 1950s, an earlier variant of Panama disease was considered responsible for the near extinction of the Gros Michel banana, which was then the main commercial variety. This led to the switch to the Cavendish banana, which was resistant to that particular fungus variant. Unfortunately, a new variant of the fungus, Tropical Race 4 (TR4), is now a threat to the Cavendish banana.
Why are Bananas Curved?
We conclude with the why question of all why questions: why are bananas curved? Because they grow towards the sun, right? Yes, a bit, but not entirely. Bananas are curved due to a process known as ‘negative geotropism’ or ‘gravitropism’. This is the name for the growth process that grows against gravity.
In the case of bananas, the process begins when the fruits develop on the underside of the banana plant, which feels gravity and grows downwards. As the fruit further develops, however, it begins to grow against gravity, in an upward direction. This growth occurs through a hormone called auxin, which promotes the growth of cells in the bananas.
The curvature of the banana is therefore the result of the fruit going against gravity and growing towards the light. This unique growth method ensures that the banana gets its characteristic curved shape. It is worth noting that not all banana varieties are equally curved; some species have a more pronounced curvature than others.