12 Health Benefits of Eating a Banana Flower that Most People Don’t Know About

The banana plant is amazing in that almost every part of it can be eaten. That makes it an excellent ‘zero waste’ choice. The most common… Simi - June 3, 2018

The banana plant is amazing in that almost every part of it can be eaten. That makes it an excellent ‘zero waste’ choice. The most common part of the banana tree is the fruit, which is consumed by billion all over the world. The health benefits of eating banana fruit are well known, but what about other parts of the tree? It turns out that many parts of the banana plant have very useful health benefits, and that includes the flower of the banana plant.

Banana flowers were initially cultivated for eating by South East Asians. Now familiar to South Asian and South East Asian cooking, the flower is also grown for eating in the Andes Mountains of Columbia and Ecuador. The large bloom has used the way in which we customarily use vegetables. It is often served raw or steamed and accompanied by dips. The blooms are also fried, and used in curries and soups. The banana flower tastes somewhat like the deliciously delicate artichoke. Like the artichoke, both the fleshy sections of the bracts and the heart are edible.

The banana flower can be found at the bottom of a bunch of bananas and has a dark purple-red color. When mature, the flower develops a hard outer husk. In Malaysia, a particular dish of immature green banana fruits and prepared blossoms are combined and made into a curry.

In Indonesia, the flower is sliced and simmered in coconut milk for a fragrant vegetable. Banana blossoms are available fresh and canned at Asian grocery stores. You should wear gloves when preparing the fresh flowers as they exude a liquid that can stain the clothes. Read on for some of the benefits of eating banana flowers.

1. Strengthens the Uterus

Many women suffer from various problems with the uterus (womb). Banana flowers are said to boost the health of the uterus in combination with multiple spices. To maximize the health benefits of banana flower for the uterus, boil a few banana flowers with a small number of peppercorns and cumin. Add ¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric and a pinch of salt, and cook until the mixture has reduced by half. Drink this decoction to help eliminate ailments of the uterus, and prevent uterine problems in the future.

During pregnancy, banana flower is an excellent aid to feeling well. A boiled banana flower is said to be able to control the production of the hormone progesterone. This hormone is implicated in the abdominal cramping and spotting that can happen during the first and third trimester of pregnancy. The regular ingestion of boiled banana flower can help relieve these symptoms.

Banana flowers also contain a significant amount of the mineral magnesium. This is of great benefit during early pregnancy because it can lift the mood and deal with morning sickness efficiently. Consuming a boiled banana decoction like the one above first thing in the morning can help knock nausea on the head.

You can select fresh banana flowers by choosing only those that are firm and free of blemishes. They should be smooth in appearance, and bright in color. Make sure that the outer leaves overlap each other tightly. To store them, wrap them in transparent plastic and place in zip-lock bags for storage in the refrigerator.

2. Fights menstrual problems

Another essential benefit of banana flowers for women is their effect on the menstrual cycle. Because of the way in which banana flowers regulate progesterone production in the body, they can help to reduce excessive menstrual bleeding. Start off by cooking the ¼ cup of banana flowers in a little water and a pinch of salt until the flowers are completely tender and cooked. Leave the flowers to cool and proceed with the rest of the recipe. Take ¼ cup of coconut, 2 grams of chilies and ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds and mix. Then add this coconut mixture to some thick yogurt or curd. Finally, stir in the cooled banana flowers and add salt to taste.

You can relish this dish with rice, and it has its benefits. It reduces excessive menstrual bleeding. A bonus of eating this dish is that because it is rich in fiber and various nutrients, it can help with weight loss. To lose weight, you can add banana flowers can to salads and soups for extra fiber and nutrition. The flowers can be eaten raw in salads, boosting their nutrient values.

An infusion of banana flowers is also an excellent natural remedy for menstrual cramps. According to a study, banana flower tea can be made by trimming, cleaning and washing the flowers, and then shredding them, either by hand or by machine.

These flower shreds are then dried in an automatic dryer or the sun, and then roasted in a roaster at 400 – 450 degrees F for between 5 and 7 minutes. The product of this process can now be used to make a brew. Steep the shreds in boiled water for 10 to 15 minutes, and drink to help with period cramps.

3. Promotes lactation

It seems that banana flowers are a woman’s best friend. Apart from improving the health of the uterus, and combating excessive menstrual bleeding, it looks as that banana flowers are also beneficial to nursing mothers. Also, it makes an ideal choice for women who are breastfeeding their babies can boost their milk production by consuming banana flowers.

A great way of preparing banana flowers is to make a curry out of them. Start off by adding two tablespoons of oil to a pan. When the oil has heated up to about medium temperature, add one teaspoon of mustard seeds. Allow the seeds to cook until they start to sputter. Now add one sliced onion to the pan at the same time as sliced green chilies. You can reduce the heat of the chilies by slicing them longways, and by removing the seeds with a knife or spoon. Fry the onion and chili mixture until the onions have become transparent, and are starting to change color.

Next, add around 500g of banana flowers and stir to mix well. Once the flowers are coated with the onion and chili mixture, add 1 flat teaspoon of turmeric powder, the leaves from one sprig of curry leaves (or more to taste), ½ teaspoon of salt (or more to taste), 1 teaspoon of powdered coriander, and a pinch of hing (asafoetida powder). Add enough water to almost cover the curry and cover with a lid.

Cook until the banana flowers are tender, and the flavors have come together. You can add some crushed coconut and serve the curry with rice or bread. Note that it is always wise to consult your doctor before eating anything new while you are pregnant or lactating.

4. Reduces hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the world’s most significant health problems. Millions of people suffer from this condition, often not knowing they have it. Untreated or undetected, hypertension can lead to cardiovascular disease and death. Many people take medication for their high blood pressure problems, but nature can also help in the form of the fantastic banana flower.

Because they are high in various nutrients, the banana flower can naturally help you in your efforts to reduce your blood pressure. The reason why banana flowers can help to fight hypertension and heart disease is that they contain flavonoids, tannins, acids and other antioxidants that help to counteract free radicals. Free radicals are associated with various ailments, including heart disease and cancer.

Another delicious way of enjoying banana flowers is in the form of a stir-fry. Chop a large prepared banana flower, and add to a bowl of water and lemon juice. Cook 1 cup of mung beans until well done. In a pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil. When hot, add a handful of chana dal and cook until golden. Then add a handful of urad dal, and saute until golden.

Add a sprig of curry leaves, 2 dried red chilies, 1 sliced onion, and salt. When the onions turn golden brown, add the drained banana flower pieces and cook until the flowers are tender. Add the mung beans and a paste of ½ cup of grated coconut, ½ teaspoon of whole cumin seeds, 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped), ½ tsp turmeric powder and 1 tablespoon of water ground together. Cook for a few minutes and serve with bread or rice.

5. Helps fight diabetes and anemia

If you have diabetes, you know what it’s like to have to watch your blood sugar levels regularly. A spike in blood sugar can be dangerous for people with diabetes. Continued high blood sugar can lead to many health complications such as loss of circulation, blindness and other eyesight problems, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, and many other health complications. Someone whose diabetes is untreated has a higher chance of dying sooner than someone who does not have diabetes.

Diabetes is a dangerous condition, and sufferers need to find ways of keeping their blood sugar on an even keel. Eating a high fiber diet rich in nutrients is essential for blood sugar control. People with diabetes need to avoid ‘empty’ carbohydrate products such as goods made with refined flour. This includes items such as pastries, pizza, bagels and many other foods. Instead, the person with diabetes needs to choose food that is closer to nature.

Anemia occurs when a person doesn’t have enough healthy blood cells to carry the required amount of oxygen to the tissues of the body. There are several different types of anemia. It can be temporary or long-term and can range from mild to severe. If you are anemic, you might feel tired and weak, and it can sometimes be a warning sign of serious illness.

Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, weakness, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, chest pain, pale or yellowish skin, cold feet and hands, and headache. Some kinds of anemia respond to a healthy, varied diet rich in foods that contain iron. These include leafy greens such as kale. The great thing is that the banana flower is a good friend to people with diabetes and those suffering from anemia. It can reduce blood sugar levels, and contains iron to assist in the production of red blood cells, thereby helping to fight anemia.

6. Improves kidney function

The kidneys are one of the body’s vital organs. The body has 2 fist-sized kidneys which look like beans, with one situated on either side of the spine, just below the rib cage. Each day, our kidneys filter between 120 and 150 quarts of blood. In the process, they produce 1 to 2 quarts of urine a day. This urine is composed of waste products and excess fluid. The urine moves from the kidneys to the bladder via the ureters, which are two narrow tubes on either side of the bladder.

The bladder stores the urine until full when it sends a signal to the brain that tells us to use the bathroom. The urine exits the body via the urethra, which is another narrow tube, this time running from the bladder to outside the body. Nobody can function without kidneys unless they are on dialysis. Without kidneys, waste and excess fluids would build up and poison the body.

The kidneys also regulate blood pressure, make red blood cells, and help keep bones healthy, produce essential hormones, and keep electrolyte levels stable. In other words, our kidneys are vital for our bodies to work correctly. The good news is that the banana flower has benefits for the kidneys as well. Before they have ripened, consume young banana flowers as a remedy for painful kidney stones. A traditional remedy is to cook the flowers and stem of the banana and drink as a bowl of soup for two weeks.

This is said to help to dissolve kidney stones completely. Banana flowers also have a preventive effect on the kidneys. It turns out that regular consumption of these tasty blossoms can prevent kidney and urinary problems. Conditions such as cystitis are said to respond well to the addition of banana flowers to the diet.

7. Treats stomach and digestive problems

Another area of the body that benefits from the banana flower is the stomach and the rest of the digestive system. Many people suffer from debilitating digestive issues that make their lives a misery. If you are one of those people, you might benefit from consuming banana flowers. Banana flowers are alkaline, instead of acid, meaning they efficiently neutralize gastric (stomach) juices. They can give relief from acid indigestion, and reduce ulcer irritation and pain. Anyone suffering from constipation can get relief from a soup made from banana flowers. The high fiber and nutrient content of the blossoms act as a natural laxative, with no need to resort to pharmaceuticals.

If you suffer from bloating, it might be a good idea to try eating banana flowers. If they don’t have the desired effect, consult your healthcare provider. Constant bloating can be a symptom of more severe problems. Like ginger, banana flowers acts against nausea and vomiting, making them an excellent choice for pregnant women in the early weeks of pregnancy. Be sure to check with your doctor before consuming new things when you are pregnant.

You can prepare delicious sour banana flower soup. Soak 3 cups of thinly-sliced, inner banana flowers in water and lime. In a soup pot, bring 3 cups of water, 1 can of chicken broth, and 2 smashed cloves of garlic to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of kroeung with garlic and galangal in it, and 1 tablespoon of tamarind powder.

Then add the drained banana flowers, ½ sliced red bell pepper, and ½ sliced yellow bell pepper. Cook until the flowers are soft. Then add 1 tablespoon of prahok, 8 ounces of tilapia or other white fish (you can use dried fish instead), a splash of fish sauce to taste and cook until it’s done. Add a handful of holy basil before serving with rice and sliced fresh chilies, if desired.

8. Helps treat depression

While we’re all familiar with feeling down and not being interested in doing much, when this feeling starts to interfere with our lives in a big way, it might be classed as depression. Depression, anxiety, and stress affect millions of people the world over. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that depression is the world’s most common illness and the leading cause of debility around the globe.

The organization estimate that around 350 million people are affected by depression and America is far from immune. In fact, the CDC has said that 7.6 % of people over the age of 12 experience depression in any 2-week period. Women appear to suffer from depression more than men, but the reasons for this are not fully understood. Scientists do not yet know what the causes of depression are, but they are likely to be a mixture of psychosocial, biological, genetic and environmental factors.

The symptoms of depression are many and varied. Obviously, they include a depressed mood, but also a lack of pleasure in things that the person once enjoyed. There is often a loss of sexual desire, and perhaps unintentional weight loss or lack of appetite. Occasionally, the opposite will occur, and the person will overeat. A person suffering from depression will often suffer from insomnia or its opposite, hypersomnia, where they sleep too much. They might also be agitated or restless and might pace up and down. In contrast to an agitated state, they might display psychomotor retardation, in which they move and speak slowly, and appear low in energy.

There might be feelings of worthlessness or guilt, inability to concentrate or make decisions, and recurring thoughts or attempts at suicide and death. The good news is that for mild depression, banana flowers might help because of their high magnesium content. And there are no nasty side-effects!

9. Deals with constipation

Constipation affects many people at some time in their lives. What constipation means, however, differs from person to person. For some, it means passing stool (feces) infrequently. For others, it might mean hard stools that are difficult to pass, causing straining, or a sense that a bowel movement has been incomplete. If constipation alternates with diarrhea, it could signal irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The number of bowel movements per day differs from person to person and usually decreases with age.

Most common is one bowel movement per day, but this occurs in less than 50% of people. Most people are irregular, and it is relatively common not to have a bowel movement on some days. Doctors define constipation as fewer than three bowel movements a week. If it is severe, it is less than one bowel movement per week. Constipation can be acute, where onset is recent, or chronic, where you have experienced it over an extended period. Acute constipation needs to be assessed by a doctor to rule out any serious underlying causes.

See a doctor if you have constipation accompanied by abdominal pain or cramps, nausea, vomiting, rectal bleeding and unexplained weight loss. You can deal with chronic constipation by taking a few simple measures. Because banana flowers are high in fiber, consuming them regularly, along with other fiber-rich foods, can bring relief from constipation.

Avoid processed foods such as products containing refined white flour, and instead, choose vegetables and whole grains such as brown rice. Try incorporating banana flowers into your diet in whatever form you like. Try a curry, stir fry or soup, or simply treat the heart of the flower like you would an artichoke and consume as a vegetable.

10. Deals with infection and inflammation

Inflammation is a process by which the body attempts to protect itself by removing harmful or irritating stimuli and beginning the process of healing. As part of the body’s immune response, the inflammation response helps to heal the body from infections, tissue damage, and wounds. Inflammation can be beneficial when you injure your foot, for example, and the body rallies all its resources to heal the wound.

Sometimes, though, inflammation lasts longer than necessary and is no longer of benefit. In fact, chronic (long-term) inflammation can lead to various diseases such as some cancers and rheumatoid arthritis. In the case of acute (recent onset) inflammation of the skin, the symptoms may include pain, redness, immobility, swelling, and heat. If inflammation occurs inside the body, such as in an internal organ, many of these symptoms might not be noticeable.

Inflammation can be caused by various physical responses that are triggered by the immune system as it responds to an infection or a bodily injury. Although infection can cause inflammation, if inflammation is present, it doesn’t always mean there is an infection. Some examples of diseases or conditions that can cause acute inflammation include infective meningitis, an infected ingrown toenail, acute bronchitis and a scratch on the skin.

Chronic inflammation is more long-term than acute and can last months or years. Some of the conditions and diseases that involve chronic inflammation include periodontitis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, asthma, chronic peptic ulcer, tuberculosis (TB), sinusitis, some cancers, atherosclerosis, and hay fever. The good news is that, if consumed regularly, banana flowers can help to deal with infections and inflammation. If eaten in combination with turmeric and ginger, the effect is even more powerful. Turmeric is currently under investigation for its impact on various inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. Ginger has been used for centuries to treat many conditions and can help with the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

11. Helps prevent aging

One of the theories of aging is the Free Radical Theory. To explain this, we need to go back to the chemistry books. Ordinary, ordinary atoms and molecules (groups of atoms) have a balanced number of electrons. Electrons are minute, negatively-charged sub-atomic particles that usually exist in pairs. When in pairs, you can achieve balance so that the atom or molecule is stable and not highly reactive. Free radicals have unbalanced, unpaired electrons that move around looking for electrons to remove from other molecules. In the process, they cause damage to the body.

Free radicals steal electrons from molecules such as proteins and the DNA in our skin, causing stress to the cells and damage. The accumulation of damage is, according to the theory, what causes aging. Free radicals can be found all over the place, including inside the body as the result of normal processes. However, being exposed to external factors such as UV rays from the sun, pollution and smoking result in the production of a lot more free radicals.

Oxidative stress occurs when the level of free radicals present is too high for the body to defend itself. The body’s natural defense products are called antioxidants. Antioxidants work by giving free radicals the extra electrons they need so that the free radicals don’t take electrons from other places we need them. But it is not only our bodies that produce antioxidants.

We also carry in other natural antioxidants in our diet. One example is vitamin C, which is present in high levels in the banana flower, as well as in citrus fruit and leafy greens. Banana flowers also contain other powerful antioxidants such as tannins and flavonoids. These antioxidants relieve conditions of stress in the cells of the body. They also slow down the aging process, thus preventing premature aging.

12. Fights overweight

Obesity is a growing problem around the world, and America has what can be called an obesity epidemic. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nearly 40% of American adults and almost 20% of teenagers are obese. These are the highest rates ever recorded. They also said that in spite of various public health campaigns aimed at improving nutrition and increasing physical activity, Americans are just getting fatter.

One of the most worrying things is how the obesity crisis is affecting young people in the States. Obesity is not just overweight. It is medically-defined as having a body-mass index (BMI) over 30. You can see that 1 in 5 teens aged 12 to 19, 1 in 5 kids aged 6 to 11, and 1 in 10 pre-schoolers aged 2 to 5 are obese. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that childhood obesity is soaring across the globe, has increased tenfold over the past 40 years.

The saying that fat children make fat adults is true. Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to remain that way into adulthood and risk early death. Altogether, over 70% of Americans are either overweight or obese, so that unhealthy weight is now the ‘new normal.’ Americans with a normal BMI of 25 or under are now in the minority. And the crisis continues to worsen. The biggest culprits in this obesity epidemic appear to be lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet. People are doing less and less physical activity as part of their normal days, and hundreds of tempting, new and unhealthy processed foods grow all the time.

If you are trying to lose weight, it turns out that banana flowers might be just what you’re looking for. Because they contain lots of fiber, they keep you fuller for longer, sating the appetite, and providing many essential nutrients without thousands of calories.