Ensete or false banana is a very tall plant. It consists entirely of soft plant material but reaches up to 12m high and the trunk (or “pseudo-stem”) can be nearly a meter thick at the base. It is an extremely hardy and versatile crop with high nutritional value: rich in potassium, calcium, and iron, although low in protein. While the plant is extremely valuable for food security, ensete is used for more than just food, the fibrous leaves and stalks are used for production of clothing, shelter, and baskets, as well as for ceremonial practices.
Bananas contain three natural sugars, namely, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. It has been proven that two bananas provide enough energy for strenuous workout, and is loved by everyone including athletes because of this benefit. The Ethiopian banana is not cultivated for its fruits, but rather for its vegetative parts.
In southern and south-western Ethiopia, the starch-rich pseudostems and underground rhizomes serve millions of people as a staple food, similar to potatoes elsewhere. In tropical and subtropical gardens the Ethiopian banana is a popular ornamental, producing very large ‘banana leaves’ marked by a conspicuous purple to purplish-brown midrib.
The potassium found in bananas is beneficial for the kidneys and bones. A good potassium intake suppresses calcium excretion in the urine that can lead to painful kidney stones. This suppression of calcium loss also reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis and brittle bones. A banana or two a day can have some serious health benefits.
Bananas make a great snack at work when your energy is lagging and while they might not be the most obvious weight loss food, they are only about 100 calories and can satisfy those sweet cravings. Bananas are a great hangover food for mornings when you’ve overdone it a bit the night before. They may be eaten in their whole form, sliced into fruit salad or mashed and added to muffin and bread recipes.