Bananas are REALLY popular for a reason and they are full of some really fun facts! They are also delicious, portable, sweet, and satisfying. Banana facts for health are also surprising and vast. Interesting facts about bananas are so numerous because of popular culture and taste! They are also a rich source of nutrients, antioxidants, and rich history. We need to consider agricultural sustainability of bananas too, so I will tell you all about that too in this post.
So much cool history exists about foods and bananas are at the top of the list. This is because they have been eaten by humans for so long. Check out these fun banana facts. Some may not be as fun, but you should know the whole story!
37 Banana Facts
Facts about bananas are seemingly endless. Here are my favorites!
- Humans share 50% of their DNA with bananas.
- Bananas are a berry, while strawberries are not!
- Along with apples, bananas are one of the most popular fruits.
- Bananas float in water.
- Monkeys peel bananas upside down, or is it right side up?
- Banana skins have oils that can reduce inflammation from bug bites and poison ivy.
- Banana plants are considered a giant herb.
- Potassium, a mineral in bananas, is actually radioactive at high doses, but you would have to eat 27 bananas a day to have any radiation risk.
- When bananas are ripe, they fluoresce a bright blue color under a black light.
- Bananas are one of the very few foods to contain dopamine!
- Banana peels truly are slippery, almost as slippery as ice.
- Bananas contain L-dopa, a brain neurotransmitter.
- Iceland grows bananas; in fact, they have a large plantation!
- Bananas are 78% water.
- Muslims believe that humans were expelled from the Garden of Eden because of a banana share, not an apple share.
- One of the cheapest healthy foods to buy today: an organic banana costs about $0.39 and a conventional banana costs $0.24 per piece of fruit.
- Bananas and green tea share a common ingredient: healthy catechins.
- Bananas have been eaten and domesticated by humans for about 10,000 years.
- Wild bananas have lots of seeds.
- The Berlin Wall made it so people in East Germany had a very difficult time getting bananas.
- Bananas today grow in 150 countries.
- Over 100 BILLION bananas per year are eaten across the globe.
- Eating bananas may help protect your skin from sun damage.
- India grows the most bananas in the world, followed by China, Uganda, and Southeast Asia.
- Plantains are a cooking bananas and taste similar to potatoes.
- Twinkies were originally a banana flavor.
- Canada grows over 100 types of bananas.
- The word Banana is derived from “Banan” which means finger in Arabic.
- Children who eat more bananas are less likely to get asthma.
- Yes, you can polish your shoes with a banana peel.
- Banana peels are edible; they are best when ripe and you can bake them and blend them.
- Bananas might go extinct because of Panama disease, a type of fungus that causes disease in bananas.
- You can grow banana plants inside your home as houseplants; just give them good light and humidity.
- Gros Michel bananas or Big Mike bananas, were the most popular variety of banana until the 1960’s. They fell out of popularity because they were susceptible to fungal infections.
- Choose a banana post-workout for a great potassium replacement: they have WAY more potassium electrolyte than sports drinks.
- Bananas are a perfect road trip food.
- Antioxidants in bananas may help your skin repair from sun damage.
Bananas Set a Tropical Mood
I eat bananas because each and every time I do, I feel a small dose of tropical. A song in my head has some steel drums. What a delight; bananas!
I live in the cold north, and just about every day of my life I eat a banana. It’s cheap, it’s easy to find, it’s fast food. Bananas are a little dose of tropical in my otherwise chilly days. Even in June, my hands are chilly, I’m wearing fleece. Don’t laugh, it’s true.
We all have deep reasons for why we eat what we do beyond taste, but I simply love bananas. Green ones, ripe ones, dark-brown ones and everything in between. They are great mixed up with other fruits.
My kids aren’t as enthusiastic about them as me.
Oh well, all the more bananas for me! I wanted to learn more about them so I can share that with you. From banana’s origins to the biochemistry, here we go!
Banana’s Deep Roots
Native to Asia, and Australia, they are thought to be first domesticated in Papua New Guinea and Africa as early as 5000-8000 BC based on archaeological data [R]. The world fell in love with bananas and are still part of trade agreements and trade wars.
Banana plants are the largest herb on the planet. That’s right, the banana plant is technically an herb.
The type of bananas most commonly eaten in the United States are the sweet Cavendish bananas.
Bananas Facts You Should Know for Health
Not that long ago, bananas didn’t get the nutritional respect they deserved. Scientists believed they had a sprinkling of minerals, vitamins and fiber.
We now know this isn’t true; bananas are complex and rich in antioxidants!
Bananas have a ton of health benefits. This is partially due to their antioxidant content. One distinct antioxidant in bananas is called gallocatechin. This is highest in the peel. Yes, the peel is edible [R].
Bananas have Green Tea Compounds
Green tea gets a lot of health notoriety, while bananas don’t. I’m here to change that!
Catechins, present in green tea, gives green tea its health benefits.
A little known fact is that bananas are also rich in catechins.
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving blood glucose
- Reducing bone breakdown
- Reducing cancer spread
- Anti-cancer effects against skin cancer, including melanoma
Bananas Have Natural Dopamine and L-dopa
Dopamine is a reward neurotransmitter, but also is an antioxidant. Dopamine motivates you into action and gives you pleasure from your daily activities, such as exercise, hobbies, social activities and sexual interactions.
Dopamine makes some people more resilient to stress and depression as well.
While dopamine is just one of many substances playing a role in mood and pleasure, it may be a reason to reach for a banana instead of an energy drink! Some people supplement L-dopa from Mucuna pruriens for a mood-enhancing benefit. Personally, I recommend trying bananas!
Tip: Little is known about the effects of dopamine and L-dopa from foods, but we do know that dopamine in the brain plays a critical role in a healthy mood and in reward from daily life.
Bananas May Protect the Skin
Bananas also may help protect the skin. This is because bananas are rich in an antioxidant called hydroxycinnamic acid [R].
Hydroxycinnamic acid may also protect the skin by [R]:
- Providing UV protection
- Maintaining collagen
- Reducing inflammation
- Providing antioxidants
This antioxidant in bananas may also help curb obesity by reducing inflammation in the body [R].
Bananas have Proanthycyanins
Bananas also contain proanthocyanins, a type of polyphenol. Proanthocyanins first got a lot of attention due their health benefits discovered in grapes.
Proanthocyanins may [R];
- Protect nerve function
- Reduce UV damage
- Improve blood pressure
- Reduce retinal damage
- Help improve vein function
Banana Nutrient Facts
Bananas are a nutritious food, contrary to popular belief and are not fattening.
Bananas contain high amounts of potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and even contain a good amount of vitamin C. they also are a fiber star, with lots of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber acts to increase gut health and improve nutrient absorption.
Nutrition information per 100 gram of bananas [R]:
Other Interesting Banana Facts for Health
Bananas are 78% water! Water is an important nutrient and most fruits have high water content.
The carbohydrate type for a green banana and a ripe banana vary considerably.
Green Bananas: Green bananas contain a high amount of resistant starch. This makes them a prebiotic. Green bananas have less overall absorb-able carbohydrate than ripe bananas. This makes them more suitable for people with diabetes.
- Prebiotics in bananas feed the healthy bacteria in our gut to help them thrive.
- Green bananas have a low glycemic load.
Ripe Bananas: As the banana ripens, the resistant starch turns into a sweeter, simple sugar.
- As a banana ripens, its antioxidant content increases!
- Good reasons to eat bananas in both stages of ripeness.
Health Tip: Bananas are one of the best food sources of vitamin B6.
- Vitamin B6 is a nutrient that is important in protein metabolism, mood regulation and so much more.
- Over 10 percent of the population may have inadequate B6 blood levels [R].
Why Choose Organic Bananas
Bananas, however, carry a dark side for the individuals growing these crops and also for the environment due to clear-cutting practices and chemical use.
Because banana’s market prices are stagnant, the farmers continue to live in poverty in developing regions.
Profits are almost exclusively given to monopoly-type companies that dictate farming practices. The growers are exposed to threatening chemical toxins and unfair wages.
While these chemicals are banned in the United States, they are widely used in banana production in other countries where the majority of bananas are produced. This puts the farmer at risk due to exposures. Child labor is also a reality in banana farming [R].
Chemical pesticides also leach into the soil and make their way into the soil and run off into water sources.
Finding Fair Trade Bananas
Seeking Fair Trade and organic bananas supports a more fair income of farmers and also supports their safety. Fair Trade bananas can be challenging to find. Here is a link I found for sourcing Fair Trade bananas: Coliman.com.
You can also click here to find out which markets in your area sell Equal Exchange bananas.
At as little as ten cents more per pound, it seems worth the extra price. You, the consumer, hold the key to change in farming practices!
Cavendish bananas are very susceptible to fungal, pests, and viral diseases; these diseases are linked to warming climate temperatures.
Efforts are being made to strengthen the banana plant through growing new varieties of Cavendish bananas [R].
Additional Banana Facts
While I eat bananas at all stages, I understand that doesn’t suit everyone’s palate.
If you don’t like ripe bananas:
- Simply peel your ripe bananas and toss them in a freezer storage bag or bowl.
- Take them out of the freezer whenever you want to make a smoothie or bake a nutritious snack.
- Choose Fair Trade and organic when possible
- For a low glycemic index snack, enjoy while green
- To get more antioxidants, enjoy bananas when ripe
- Choose a banana post-workout for a great potassium replacement
While banana facts are fun and generally bananas are very healthy, there are a couple of things to consider:
- Make sure to factor in the carbohydrate content if taking medication for diabetes
- Don’t eat bananas if you have an allergy. If you are sensitive to latex, you may also be sensitive to bananas.
- If your doctor tells you to limit potassium, you should minimize your intake of bananas.
- This post is not meant as medical advice. Make sure to talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet.
Organic Banana Chips Recipe
Here is a simple way to use up those extra bananas!
- 4 cups organic bananas, ripe
- 2 lemons
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, optional
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Slice the bananas as thin as you possibly can. Place the bananas on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Combine the juice of the lemons, the cinnamon, and cayenne in a bowl. Brush the banana slices with the combination. Bake for 1 to 1.5 hours, checking every 20 minutes to make sure they don’t burn. The slices should be firm and leathery but will be bendable.
Buy Organic Banana Chips
Don’t feel like making your own organic banana chips? You can find crispy organic banana chips here.
I personally prefer the soft and chewy banana chips. You can find those here.
*As an Amazon affiliate I make income from qualifying purchases.
I hope you enjoyed these banana facts.
Got more health questions? Don’t forget to contact me here.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 20 years, has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. Has researched supplements and plants as medicine throughout her career. Loves helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.