Saturday, 24 July 2010

Bananas - the Backpacker's Fruit

I read an article recently about the banana in a local circular. I know we probably all love bananas and, as we observe athletes (at Wimbledon especially) demolishing them between races or sets, we know that they must be good for us and provide energy. What I didn’t know was just how good...

Clearly, for traveller backpackers, a banana is a great source of food. It has it’s own ‘sterile’ wrapping so is good for those of us journeying in somewhat unhygienic locales, and is obscenely readily available almost everywhere. For UL hillwalking backpackers, a breakfast of two bananas before a hillwalk is a superb idea. This is why:

Energy: consuming two bananas provides sufficient energy for up to 90 minutes of strenuous activity. In fact, depending on size, they supply about 300 calories. They are a mixture of the natural sugars of sucrose, fructose and glucose meaning they provide immediate and slow-release energy.

Depression and stress: bananas contain tryptophan which can aid in mood enhancement and relaxation. In short, eating a banana may improve your mood. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, also affecting your mood. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate increases, reducing our potassium levels - bananas can help normalise this.

Blood: High in iron, bananas can help increase the production of haemoglobin which, in turn, affects cases of anaemia. Extremely high in potassium and low in salt, it also is great for your blood pressure. The US Food and Drug Administration has recently concurred and agreed to permit banana suppliers make that claim on packaging.

Constipation: high in fibre, bananas help in restoring and maintaining normal bowel action which, if eaten before a hillwalk, can ensure, if you are wild camping that, if you need to dig a hole for relief purposes, at least it will be relatively solid!

Hangover: A banana milkshake with honey will help with a hangover. Bananas settle your stomach, the honey and the banana build up depleted sugar levels and the milk helps to re-hydrate your system. It will also help with heartburn.

Mosquito bites: there have been numerous reports that (erk!) rubbing the banana skin over an insect bite will help soothe the irritation. Not sure about the science behind that one but a quick Google search seems to bear that out...

Thermoregulation: bananas are seen as cooling fruit by many world-wide cultures that can lower physical and emotional temperatures.

They may not be ultra-light, but they’re ultra-useful. Many thanks to CR5 for that article!

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