The Banana Zone! May 8, 2006

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Imagine a tree, a gigantic herb really, that produces a single flower. From that frightful and fantastic flower grow 20 hands. If this seems amazing and terrifying to you, if it puts images of trees grabbing for you as you walk the forest then you have entered -- the Banana Zone --and fallen for my new career of horror-movie trailer writing.
Banana "trees" grow from rhizomes into a "trunk" of loosely clustered leaves. From this "trunk" grows the banana fruit clusters called hands. Most of us associate bananas with the color yellow. This week we want to introduce you to a banana of a different shade - a red banana.
Red Bananas: There are many banana varieties that consumers never see unless they experience them in local markets near the tropical regions where the bananas are grown. We've been able to find some red bananas that - when ripe - have a different taste from the well known yellow Cavendish variety. You'll need to let the red bananas turn a very dark red/black color and get soft before eating. When you do peel them you'll notice that the ripe fruit has an orange tint to it. I think ripe red bananas taste like banana-cream pie. They have very smooth and rich texture.
Banana Basics: Bananas are a wonderful fruit. Not only can they help decrease the risk of stroke, lower high blood pressure, relieve heartburn, prevent ulcers and increase brain serotonin levels but they also make a great pretend telephone when playing with kids.
Each banana has roughly 396 milligrams of Potassium or 11 percent of the daily value. Bananas are a good source of electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that turn into electrically charged particles in the body and help control everything from muscle contractions to fluid balances. Bananas also contain 35% of the daily value of the vitamin B6. B6 is used by the brain to increase serotonin levels - something that research is beginning to point to as a compound that can help relieve migraines. B6 is also said to increase dream activity during sleep periods. Bananas contain pectin, a soluble fiber which can help absorb fluid in our digestive systems. Thus, when hit by the flu bug of the stomach variety - bananas can help us keep it together (so to speak). Enjoy and be fruitful!


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