Bananas are thought to have originated in Malaysia 4 000 years ago and from there spread throughout the Philippines and India. They were first recored as being grown by Alexander the Great in 327 B.C.

Bananas are one of the most popular fruits available on the market and are enjoy by all. They offer an extensive amount of health benefits some you may not even know about -

  • Bananas contain no fat, or cholesterol and are easy to digest.
  • They are a great source of instant energy, as they contain plenty of carbohydrates and contain natural sugars (sucrose, fructose and glucose) which are released quickly into the bloodstream.
  • Bananas are rich in vitamin B6 and are a good source of fibre, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium. Vitamin B6 helps prevent irritability and insomnia. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure and can also reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Potassium also prevents the bloods pH from becoming too acidic.
  • Bananas are believed to prevent low density lipoprotein from oxidizing, which causes it to stick to the walls of the arteries. This accumulation can contribute to atherosclerosis, or harding of the arteries, a major contributor to heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure. Eating bananas as a part of your diet can reduce the risk of stroke by up to 40%.
  • Eating one medium banana provides you with 11% of your daily potassium requirement and 17% of your daily vitamin C requirement.
  • Research has shown that bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin which is known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel better and may help sufferers of depression naturally.
  • Contains fibre. Fibre is important for good health and helps reduce cholesterol, improving blood sugar control, lowering the risk of heart disease and aiding both constipation and diarrhea.
  • Bananas have a positive effect on the digestive system by helping to maintain regularity and reduce the risk of diverticulitises and hernias.
  • Bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood as they are high in iron and are therefore beneficial for people with anemia.
  • Bananas are high in vitamin B which may help calm your nervous system.
  • Bananas can be used in the treatment of burns and wounds. You can get immediate relief by crushing a ripe banana into a paste and spreading it over a wound or burn.
  • Because of their soft texture and blandness, bananas can be used in the fight against intestinal disorders such as ulcers. Bananas neutralize the acidity of gastric juices, thus reducing ulcer irritation by coating the lining of the stomach. It is only the raw fruit that can be eaten without distress by chronic ulcer cases. Bananas can also help to kill the harmful bacteria that causes ulcers
  • Women who eat 2.5 bananas daily can lower the risk of kidney cancer.
  • Mashing a banana with a little salt is suggested as a valuable remedy for dysentery.
  • Bananas are useful in the treatment of arthritis and gout
  • Bananas are useful for people who have allergic reactions to certain foods and who suffer from skin rashes or digestive disorders or asthma. Most protein foods contain amino acids which are generally not tolerated by people who suffer from these disorders. Bananas contain benign amino acids which rarely cause allergic reactions (of course, it is always recommended that people with any sensitivities check first before proceeding).
  • Bananas can improve your bodies ability to absorb calcium

There are many health benefits associated with eating bananas - nourish the brain; assist with hangovers, heartburn, morning sickness, mosquito bites, PMS, stress and temperature control; protects your eyesight; and warts - the list goes on and on ..... .

Non organic bananas are treated with chemicals when they're growing, harvested and shipped, which include a toxic soup of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. To control worms and prevent uprooting losses, farmers apply nematocides. One of the most common type of nematocide is Aldicarb, which can be lethal. Workers on banana plantations ofter complain of a terrible smell that causes dizziness and vomiting on hot days. Other chemicals used include benomyl (linked to birth defects) and chloropyrifos (neurotoxin).

How to select and store bananas

  • Select bananas that are slightly green, firm, and without bruises. The stems and tips should be intact.
  • The size of the banana can vary from each tree, so choose the size that best meets your needs.
  • Usually partially green bananas will take 1-3 days to turn sunny yellow in colour.
  • Store bananas at room temperature until they reach the ripeness you want, then they can be stored in the refrigerator. The peel of the banana will darken in the refrigerator but the banana will remain firm inside. They can be stored for up to two weeks.
  • For maximum flavor, allow refrigerated bananas to come back to room temperature before eating them.
  • Never store unripe bananas in the refrigerator as they will not ripen properly because the cold interferes with the ripening process. If unripe bananas are stored in the fridge and later returned to room temperature, the banana will not resume the ripening process.
  • To ripen a banana faster, place it in a brown paper bag with an apple or tomato overnight.

Remember green bananas should be selected cooking, yellow ones should be selected for eating and brown speckeled ones should be selected for baking or making smoothies or shakes. Bananas are one of nature's wonderful gifts, full of health benefits and an important part of everyone's balanced diet. Enjoy an organic banana today!  

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Genetically Modified Food

Posted on April 29, 2007 by Sarmaad

The genetic modifications of plants and animals is one of the biggest and most difficult environmental challenges of the 21st century. Did you know that GMOs are found extensively in many food products on the supermarket shelves and the chances are you have already eaten GMOs!!!

What is a genetically modified organism?

The general principal behind GMO is to insert DNA that has been taken from another organism and modified through genetic engineering techniques into an organism's genome to create both new and enhanced traits and phenotypes. By being able to take genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists have engineered numerous creations, such as pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle genes and so on.

What were the first crops?

The first commercially grown genetically modified food crop was the Flavr Savr tomato which was made more resistant to rotting. It was released into the market for sale in 1994. This tomato was found to cause damage to the stomachs of rats and was later taken off the market. This was followed by insect protected cotton and herbicide tolerant soybeans, which both were commercially released in 1996. Today the soybean is by far the world's most cultivated GM plant, followed by corn, cotton and canola.

The world leaders in GM crops

The United States accounts for nearly two thirds of all biotechnology crops planted globally. The GM food crops grown by US farmers include corn, cotton, soybeans, canola, squash and papaya. Other major producers of GM crops are Argentina, which plants primary biotech soybean; Canada, whose principal biotech crop is canola; Brazil, which has recently legalized the planting of GM soybean; China, where the acreage of GM cotton continues to increase; and South Africa, where cotton is also the principal biotech crop. Worldwide, about 672 million acres of land are under cultivation of which 25% or 167.2 million acres - an area twice the size of the UK- consists of GM crops.

Why GM crops?

Crops can destroyed by many different factors including insects, weeds and disease. GMO's are used to make crops herbicide tolerant and pesticide resistant, to increase their nutritional content, to make them taste better and to reduce their growing time and increase their tolerance to fluctuating temperatures.

Foods that have been genetically modified

GM foods have been available to the public since the1990s, so the invasion of GMOs will continue in our grocery stores and in our kitchen pantries. The most common crops which have been modified and to watch for include:

  • Maize.Soybean (Soy flour, soy oil, lecithin, soy protein isolates and concentrates).
  • Oilseed rape - canola (Oil, fabric).
  • Squash.
  • Potato (Right now the only potato that has been genetically engineered is the Burbank Russet, but you still have to look out for potato starch and flour).
  • Corn (flour, corn starch, corn oil, corn sweeteners, syrups).
  • Cotton
  • Dairy Products (Milk, cheese, butter, buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, whey).
  • Animal Products (Because animal feed often contains genetically engineered organisms, all animal products, or by-products may be affected).
Affects to human health and the environment

The GMO foods currently on the market have not undergone adequate testing to ensure their safety for human consumption and also to quantify what impact they have on the environment. Genetically engineered food can have a serious effect on human health, on wildlife and the environment. Human risks can include;
  • Allergic/ toxic reactions (to hidden genes and combination)
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Immune - suppression
  • Increased cancer risk
  • Unsuspected side effects
Environmental impacts can include;
  • Uncontrolled biological pollution
  • Threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction.
  • Potential contamination of non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.
  • Increased use of and dependence on toxic herbicides.
  • Harm to farming (deformed crops, increased pest resistance, increased farmer costs and debt).
  • Crop failures.
  • Biodiversity (implications for biodiversity, the balance of wildlife and the environment).
  • Creation of GM "Superweeds" and "Superpests".
  • Damage to food quality and nutrition.
  • Ethical Issues
How to avoid GMO
  • The only guaranteed way to avoid eating GMOs is to buy fresh certified organic produce.
  • Read labels - When buying a product check the ingredients on the label. GM soybean and corn make up the largest portion of GE crops. If they are listed then there is a good chance it is GM. Remember the label does not have to declare that it contains GM ingredients.
  • Avoid processed foods - 70% of processed foods contain GM ingredients.
Australia and GMO

Australia is already commercially producing GE cotton. This cotton is known as BT cotton as it produces a genetically engineered toxin called Bacillus Thuringensis (BT). Bt cotton produces this toxin in every part of the plant so that the cotton plant itself becomes a pesticide factory. Bt cotton is not only used for cloth and cotton products but the cottonseed is crushed for oil used in food.

Australia is also commercially growing GE canola, carrying on trials of GE wheat and growing GE blue carnation flowers.

The major problem remains that genetic engineering is highly unpredictable and that the "jury is still out" as to what impact GMO crops will have on human beings and on the environment!

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