When I meet somebody for the first time, I like to ask them a series of questions to determine whether or not we’re going to be compatible. What’s your favorite candy bar? What’s your favorite band? Do you prefer cats or dogs? What’s the best ice cream flavor?
It may sound bizarre, but I really can’t be bothered to waste my time talking to anybody who thinks chocolate is the best ice cream flavor. It just isn’t.
Anyway, another question I like to throw in there is, “What’s the best fruit?” It may sound like a pretty open-ended question, but there is a correct answer: the banana. It is delicious, easy to eat, and comes in its very own carry case. It is delicious on its own, in smoothies, desserts, sandwiches, and can even be made into a very pleasant ketchup to be eaten with fries (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it).
And speaking of banana, did you know you’ve been peeling them wrong your whole life?
Bananas are also great for you too! They’re packed full of energy-giving carbohydrate, contain gut-loving fiber, and heart-healthy potassium, and that’s just some of the health benefits – which is great, considering the average American eats 100 bananas every year (I personally enjoy one a day!)
The banana skins, although discarded by most, can also have many benefits. Rubbing the inner-flesh on your face makes an excellent moisturizer for skin, they can help whiten your teeth, and they make a deceptive weapon during a game of Mario Kart.
However, there’s one part of a banana that most people can’t really stand; the stringy bits.
You know the bits I’m talking about – they’re the long, thin bits of whatever that actually make the fruit taste quite dry.
Essentially, they’re an unpleasant nuisance – like the white pith of an orange – and most of us can attest to peeling them off and throwing them in the trash on the odd occasion. However, did you know these seemingly insignificant pieces of banana innards actually have a name and a purpose!?
How onto your hats, because I’m about to blow your minds.
These unwanted stringy bits are actually called phloem bundles – which actually sounds kinda cute. And despite the fact many of us flick them away, these strands actually contain bundles (see what I did there?) of fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin B6!
You also probably haven’t noticed the fact that phloem is a tissue found in all plants, and is responsible for the transporting of nutrients to the fruit, in order for them to develop correctly. They are essentially banana veins.
Whatsmore, the phloem bundles can actually help determine whether or not your banana is ripe and ready to eat. If you peel a banana and the phloem bundles stay tight to the banana then it is under-ripe. This doesn’t just mean the banana will be dry and less tasty, but it also means the banana won’t be as healthy for you, as most of the nutrients have yet to be distributed into the fruit yet.
And amazingly, I am about to blow your banana brains even more…
You see, phloem bundles aren’t the only part of a banana you could and should be eating – oh no – you should also be eating the peel too. That’s right, the peels are not only edible, but they’re also full of nutrients.
Laura Flores, a San Diego-based nutritionist, revealed to Live Science how banana peels are eaten in many parts of the world, such as India, and the peel “contains high amounts of vitamin B6 and B12, as well as magnesium and potassium. It also contains some fiber and protein.”
Of course, if you ever do try and actually eat your banana peel, remember to carefully wash it thoroughly beforehand in order to remove any pesticides used during the farming process.
And for serving suggestions, banana peels are usually served cooked, boiled or fried (I don’t know why, but the sound of candied banana peels sounds really good). although they can be eaten raw or put in a blender with other fruits. They are not as sweet as banana flesh. Riper peels will be sweeter than unripe ones.
So the next time you throw your banana peel in the trash or flick away the little phloem tubes, just think about all the vitamins you’re missing out on.