7 Dec 2013

The Banana


The origins of the banana are as complex and convoluted as the nature of the banana’s taxonomic origins themselves.  Archeologists have focused on the Kuk valley of New 
Guinea around 8,000 BCE (Before Common Era) as the area where humans first domesticated the banana.  Additionally, though this is the first known location of banana 
domestication, other spontaneous domestication projects may have occurred throughout the Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.  Therefore, Kuk is the first known 
instance of banana domestication, but it is probably not the cradle from which all other domesticated species sprang. From New Guinea, the Kuk domesticated variety 
appears to have spread to the Philippines, and then radiated widely across the tropics.  Researchers find it difficult to trace the diffusion of the banana after its arrival in the 
Philippine islands, and in many cases, it appears the banana was introduced into areas only to be reintroduced, and in a sense, rediscovered, hundreds or thousands of 
years later.  Adding to the confusing tangle of banana proliferation is the parallel development of hybrid fruits.  Human ingenuity manipulated the seedless, and thus asexual, 
forms of domesticated bananas into hybrids by careful techniques of culling and planting that fused and refined different domesticated varieties.  Thus, the origins of the 
banana have been difficult at best to pinpoint.  In general, however, it can be said that bananas originated in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific around 8,000 to 5,000 
BCE. From New Guinea and the Philippines, bananas dispersed far and wide across the tropics, in all directions.  It is probable that bananas arrived in India, Indonesia, 
Australia, and Malaysia, within the first two millennia after domestication.  Plantains may have been grown in eastern Africa as early as 3000 BCE, and in Madagascar by 
1000 BCE.  The plantain had certainly reached the African continent between 500 BCE and 500 CE.  Buddhist literature notes the existence of the banana in 600 BCE, and 
when Alexander the Great’s expeditions led him to India in 327 BCE, he stumbled across the fruit.  Perhaps most surprising, the banana may have arrived in South America 
well ahead of Europeans, as early as 200 BCE, carried by sailors of Southeast Asian origin.  By the 3rd century CE, plantains were being cultivated on plantations in China.  
 Bananas were redistributed and rediscovered for a second time around the Indian Ocean world carried by the wave of Islam.  Referenced in Islamic literature in the 11th 
century BCE, muslim merchants carried the banana along trade routes to and from various places in South Asia and the Middle East.  By the 1200s, the banana had 
reached into North Africa and in Moorish-controlled Spain.  It is also likely that Islamists carried the banana from eastern to western Africa. A third wave of banana diffusion 
occurred in both Asia and in Europe.  By the 1200s, Japanese cultivators harvested specific banana varieties for their fibers, to forge into textiles for clothes and other 
fabrics.  Through selective use of banana fibers and processing techniques involving lye soaks, Japanese textile production from bananas could be either soft enough for use 
in the creation of prized kimonos and other traditional wear, or coarse enough for use as table cloth.  In Europe, meanwhile, the Moorish invasions had likely brought the 
banana for the first time into the continent.  By the 15th and 16th century, Portuguese sailors were establishing the crop throughout Brazil, where it likely spread to the 
sugar plantation economies of the New World and the Caribbean. Banana production and consumption in the ancient and early modern world was mostly geared towards 
small-scale operations.  Though individual fingers, hands, and bunches were more than likely available for sale through commercial exchanges, most banana production 
occurred as a small-scale operation for local consumption.  The banana’s importance as a staple crop would have been well established, and its major use was likely as 
either the main starch consumed, or, given its non-seasonal nature, as an important buffer crop between other staple harvests.  However, large-scale operations were 
certainly evident, as China’s plantation complex and the presence of bananas in colonial New World attests.  

Adding a banana to your daily diet has an array of benefits in your body. Bananas help you reach your weight-loss goals, keep your bowels healthy, provide nutrients that
regulate heart rhythm and have vitamin compounds for eye health. Keep a bunch of bananas on your desk at work and replenish your stock each week. You'll be more likely 
to reach for a healthy banana. Finding foods to fit into your weight-loss diet can be challenging, but bananas make a perfect fit. Bananas are naturally sweet and can help 
curb your sweet tooth if you get that afternoon sugar craving. A 6-inch banana has a minimal 90 calories, about one-fourth of the calories you would get from a chocolate 
candy bar. Additionally, about half of the fiber content in bananas is soluble. When soluble fiber reaches your digestive tract, it absorbs water and slows digestion. Food is 
forced to sit in your stomach for a while, making you feel full. If you have a banana before lunch, you'll be less likely to overeat when your food comes to the table. Enjoying a 
banana each day aids in keeping you regular. One 6-inch banana has more than 2.5 grams of total fiber, about half of which are insoluble. As insoluble fiber travels through 
your digestive tract, it sweeps up waste and helps push it out. You'll have more regular bowel movements that are soft and easy to pass. Keep your bowels healthy by 
getting 14 grams of fiber in your diet for every 1,000 calories you consume, reports Colorado State University Extension. For example, if you tend to stick to an 1,800-calorie 
diet, you need about 25 grams of total fiber. You get nearly 10 percent of your daily fiber needs -- for this number of calories -- from one 6-inch banana. Having a banana at 
breakfast every day adds a nutrient to your body to support normal heart function. Bananas are rich in a mineral electrolyte called potassium. When potassium enters your 
body, it absorbs directly into your bloodstream through intestinal walls. Potassium travels around to cells all over your body and dissolves in fluid inside of cells. It travels 
across cell membranes if needed to keep fluid balanced in and around cells. This process keeps electricity flowing throughout your system, which is required to make your 
heart beat. In cases of severe potassium deficiency, your heart rhythm may become irregular, which can be deadly. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, you need 4,700 
milligrams of potassium on a daily basis. Bananas provide more than 360 milligrams per 6-inch piece of fruit. Adding a banana to your diet also helps keep your eyes 
healthy. Bananas have a small amount of vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that is vital for protecting your eyes and normal vision. The term "vitamin A" refers to a series of 
compounds, including beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. These compounds preserve the membranes that surround your eyes and are a component of one of the proteins 
that brings light into your cornea. Adequate daily vitamin A intake also lessens your risk of night blindness and is essential for everyday vision. Women require 700 
micrograms of daily vitamin A, and men need 900 micrograms, explains the Office of Dietary Supplements. One 6-inch banana has nearly 10 micrograms of vitamin A. 
Bananas also contain alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which convert to vitamin A to further keep your eyes healthy. Bananas are exceptionally healthy food that provides 
numerous health benefits. It is a versatile fruit that contains many nutrients including vitamins A, B, C and E along with minerals like potassium, zinc, iron and manganese. 
Just as eating a banana helps in utilizing the banana nutrition to keep your body in good health and great shape, while application of this fruit on your hair and skin will help 
you to keep them in great condition. Banana fruit has nutrients that are essential for the skin. They contain significant amounts of vitamin C and B6 which plays vital role in 
maintaining the integrity and elasticity of the skin. In addition, the large amount of antioxidants and manganese present in banana protect the body from damage caused by 
oxygen free radicals which lead to premature aging of the skin. So a major benefit from banana is younger looking skin. Banana has about 75 per cent water by weight in it. 
Banana is a great natural moisturiser for your skin. The Vitamin A present in banana restores the lost moisture and repairs the damaged, dull and dry skin. To instantly 
moisturise dry and dull skin, mash a ripe banana and apply it on your face. Avoid contact with eyes. Leave it on your skin for 20-25 minutes and then wash it away with 
lukewarm water. You will instantly feel skin looking soft and supple. If you extremely dry and flaky skin, you can also add honey to this face mask. This banana and honey 
mask also helps in getting rid of skin pigmentation. Another easy face mask to get moisturised skin is to mash half a ripe banana and mix it with 1 tbsp. yogurt and 1 tsp. 
Vitamin E oil. Apply it generously on a clean face and wash it away after 30 minutes. Banana contains generous amount of Vitamin C in it that help in maintaining the 
natural and youthful glow of the skin. Nutrients in banana helps in fighting wrinkles and keeps the skin youthful. For an anti-aging facial mask loaded with vitamins A and E, 
mash together an avocado and a banana. Leave on skin for 25 minutes and rinse. Skin will be soft and youthful. The vitamins E in avocados combined with the nutrients in 
bananas fight free radicals and repair damage. Another simple face mask to fight effect of ageing is to mash 1/4 banana until very creamy and add one teaspoon of rose 
water. Apply it on face and neck and wash it off after half an hour. The moisturizing property of banana can be used to get rid of cracked heels. All you need to do is mash 
the pulp of two ripe bananas and apply this pulp on clean, dry feet. Leave it on for 10 minutes and rinse the feet clean. The banana pulp will penetrate deep into dry, cracked 
skin to create soft and supple feet. Mash half a banana and apply generously around the puffy eyes. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes and then rinsing with cool water. The 
puffiness will vanish instantly. The potassium rich banana draws out excess fluid from under my skin and reduces the swelling immediately. You can also apply the banana 
peels instead of mashed banana. This tip can also be used whenever you apply any face pack and think about putting cucumber slices on your eyes. Banana is rich in 
potassium, natural oils, carbohydrates and vitamins which help in softening the hair and protects the hair’s natural elasticity preventing split ends and breakage. Banana 
creates manageability, shine, growth and controls dandruff. Just like a banana facial mask enhances the glow of your face immediately, the following banana hair masks will 
also improve your hair dramatically. Here are some of the banana for hair benefits. We all know how essential a good night sleep is for maintaining the health of your skin 
and hair. Melatonin is the sleep inducing hormone in the human body and Tryptophan is an amino-acid that is necessary for the production of this sleep hormone. Bananas 
not only contain large amounts of tryptophan and serotonin but also have very high carbohydrate content in them that helps the brain to utilize tryptophan and serotonin to 
produce the sleep hormone. Eating banana few hours before you go to bed will help you in getting that essential beauty sleep and thus a refreshed and healthy skin.

-weight lose
-reduce depression
-regulate the bowels ystem
-reduce blood pressure or risk disease
-help our bones grow stronger
-help prevent anemia
-provide us more energy
-reduce mestrual pains
-power our brains
-help prevent ulcers
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