Monday, 28 May 2012

Bananas for food and nutrition security in Kenya

Bananas are widely grown and consumed in Kenya and all over Africa, by people of all walks of life. Bananas benefits are several as they are delicious, nutritious and medicinal. They are among the most important staple foods in Kenya and entire East Africa. The crop is grown both for local and export market. When unripe this nutritious medicinal fruit , primarily contains starch which makes up 21% of the fruit .However, during the ripening process the starch is converted into sugars such as glucose, sucrose and fructose and  therefore a ripe fruit has 1% starch only. This food is rich in potassium making it ideal for prevention of stroke, arterial hypertension, and colon cancer. Nutritional components of cooking Bananas for every 100g edible portion include:-
Potassium 396mg Vitamin B6 0.58mg
Phosphorous 20mg Vitamin C 9mg
Magnesium 29mg Vitamin B2 0.1mg
Calcium 6mg Vitamin B1 0.045mg
Iron 0.31mg Vitamin B3 0.74mg
Energy 92kcal Vitamin E 0.27mg
Zinc 0.16mg Vitamin A 8ug RE
Carbohydrates 21g Foliate 19.1ug
Fiber 2.4g

High amounts of Vitamin B6 also known as pyridoxine helps in metabolism and absorption of fats and proteins, as well as making the red blood cells. Vitamin B6 deficiency is characterized by lesions on the lips, lesions on the corners of the mouth, inflammation of the tongue, and peripheral neuropathy. Generous amounts of Vitamin C which is an antioxidant are present helping the body in calcium metabolism, bone formation and blood vessel walls formation. Vitamin B1 which is in significant amounts is crucial for energy metabolism, supporting appetite and proper functioning of central nervous system.

 Likewise Vitamin B2 helps in energy metabolism, supports normal vision and skin health. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, protecting white and red blood cells membranes. Vitamin E is useful particularly in DNA synthesis and stimulation of the body's immune system. Bananas are very useful for management of diarrhea, stomach ulcers, digestive disorders, protein allergies, colitis and coronary heart disease. Bananas alkalize the blood and eliminate excess uric acid preventing arthritis and gout. Due to its content of soluble and insoluble fiber it’s a cholesterol and lipid lowering food. The sugars contained in bananas are absorbed by the body gradually, therefore preventing sharp rise in blood sugar level making it good for diabetes management. Bananas are also invaluable for strengthening the stomach lining.