The banana basically grows in the Tropics. Practically every part of the banana tree is used by man. The leaves grow up to 3 metres long and 1 metre wide.This is one fruit, which is so well preserved by nature that it can be readily eaten. It can safely be eaten by one and all from a baby of 9 months to an old person of 70.Bananas are said to be rich in vitamins A and B as well as many other nutrients like minerals, proteins and carbohydrates. A single banana consists of 100 calories, 5 per cent fat, 7 per cent calcium, 1.4 mg iron, 8 per cent protein, 8.2 per cent carbohydrates, and .01 per cent phosphorous. Consumption of the banana adds strength to the body.It is easy to carry and is economical too. `Kadali` is the Sanskirt term for a banana. There are many references to it in Sanskrit Literature. On any auspicious occasion or ritual, the banana or its leaves are used. Ascetics find this a wholesome fruit. No wonder, this fruit is mentioned in all traditional literature.
In north India, mostly the green rind, long banana is found. In the south, there are five varieties, each of which is rich in essential nutrients. They are the green banana, the small yellow bananas, which are slightly sour, the Karpoora Vazhai , the red banana and the Nendran which is found in Kerala. Nendran is almost one-foot long and has a lot of vitamins.
A nourishing combination of bananas and curds or sweetened curds is eaten by many to enhance the calcium content and taste.Our forefathers, hundreds of years ago, believed that bananas were nutritious when consumed in the morning. Since it has certain cooling properties, it is generally not recommended to be eaten in the evening.
As far as the medicinal properties are concerned, our ancestors knew better. They prescribed banana for anaemia, gout (a type of arthritis), constipation, chronic cough, eczema, indigestion and even insomnia. Can you imagine, they even treated mouth ulcers with it! Ripe bananas were made into a paste and then whipped with curd. To this, they added raisins and grains of cardamom.
For chronic cough, black pepper powder and bananas were given, which helped to draw out the phlegm.To activate hormonal secretion, bananas are considered a must. Bananas help digest the food.The banana is an ideal fruit for growing children.Villagers make use of the leaves for curing asthma. They dry the leaves and burn it. The ash is inhaled by those suffering from asthma. This is said to relieve wheezing.The leaves are also used instead of plates by many people, especially on festive occasions and marriages. For young children, a mixture of mashed bananas and tulsi or basil leaves is given as it is said to activate the brain.A banana mixed with a few ripe grapes is a good combination to energise a tired body. The presence of some enzymes in grapes, help to consolidate and assimilate various nutrients present in bananas.The flower of the banana tree is nutritious too. It is good for joint pains and ensures proper blood circulation.Raw bananas are rich in phosphorous. Its combination with milk helps to calm down jagged nerves.The rind of the banana is excellent for getting rid of worms in the stomach.Savour this wholesome fruit either in a salad, or cooked in a variety of dishes, or just eat it!