Madeira Fruits: Madeira Bananas

Madeira Fruits: Madeira Bananas

Madeira Bananas

Banana cultivation is important to Madeira from an economic as well as landscape standpoint.  A banana plant belongs to the herbaceous flowering plants.  It is not a tree but rather a giant herb like plant. The part one could call stem or trunk is really a succession of leaves grown together in a tight sheath.  Specifically, the banana plant is the largest known plant without a woody trunk or stem.

Banana da Madeira stem or trunk Banane Madeira Portugal

Madeira Bananas and the banana plantations are mostly on the south of the island.  However, you will see banana plants all around the island.

Banana da Madeira Flower and Landscape
Madeira Banana Flower and Landscape

History

The first banana plants landed on Madeira in the 16th century as a botanical curiosity (1).  Later, “Dwarf Cavendish” is the first commercial banana species planted on Madeira in the mid-19th century.  Today, that sort of banana represents 60% of the cultivated banana area on Madeira.  Lastly, the other species are Robusta (32%), Grand Naine and Gal (8%).  These were introduced on Madeira in 1993 (2).

Bendy Banana Law

Madeira used to proudly export its bananas throughout Europe.  Nevertheless, this is no longer the case.  Sadly, islanders tell a story about a “Bendy Banana Law” by the European Union describing the attributes (length, curve, etc.) of a banana.  Only bananas fulfilling all attributes can sell in Europe.  However, Madeira bananas are mostly shorter.  Hence, these can no longer be sold outside of Portugal.  After an initial blow for Madeira’s banana sector, locals are proud of their smaller, sweeter and tastier bananas.

Banana da Madeira Portugal Hence Banane de Madère

Gastronomy

Do try them while on Madeira, you will be surprised as to how good they actually are.  Madeirans jokingly remind us that size does not matter.  Furthermore, you will find bananas in main dishes such as Espada com banana and deserts.

Banana promotion

Madeira loves its bananas.  That is a certainty.  In fact, the Banana sector of Madeira even hired Cristiano Ronaldo’s mother to promote them.

Peeling a Banana

Most people peel a banana from the stem down.  However, this may bruise the fruit.  Hence, after a few attempts, the fruit becomes mushy and gluey.  Monkey peels their bananas the other way around.  Try it and you’ll see how fast and easy it goes without bruising the precious fruit.  Watch it done here

Medicinal uses

There is much more to the banana than meets the eye.  Bananas have a complex biochemistry containing many active and pharmacological ingredients.  Hence, a banana is a bit like a fruit practicing medicine without a license.

  • Green Banana is Anti-Diarrhea. While still green, the starches containing in the banana reduce intestinal permeability.  Hence, this in turn reduces fluid loss (1 & 2).  Furthermore, a study reveals that it quickens recovery of diarrhea (3).
  • Anti-Ulcer activity of the Banana. Banana powder seems to prevent ulcer formation induced by certain drugs among which: aspirin and antihistamine.  The banana powder strengthens the resistance of the mucus and promotes cellular proliferation Leucocyanidin – a banana compound is particularly effective against aspirin caused ulcers (4 & 5).
  • Research shows that banana peel suppresses testosterone induced prostate gland growth (6).
  • Banana consumption protects the skin against UV-B light damage. Furthermore, banana protects skin elasticity (7).
  • Banana may have anti-diabetic properties in a type 1 diabetes according to a study (8). The banana flower extract is an antioxidant and lowers blood sugars levels.  Similarly, banana roots extract seems to lower blood sugar levels as well (9).  Furthermore, unripe bananas contain starches which are resistant to hydrolysis.  Thus, these starches are beneficial to diabetics (10).
  • Banana contains many different anti-infective compounds. These compounds are, to date, mainly used in India and Asia (11, 12, 13, 14 & 15).

Maderia Banana Health Benefits

Better known Medicinal uses

  • Banana can improve digestive health due to the elevated presence of dietary fibers.
  • Banana consumption helps overcome depression due to high levels of tryptophan. These are converted by the body in serotonin which promotes a feel-good feeling (16).
  • Bananas are famous for cramp protection due to their high potassium content.
  • The high potassium content further helps lower blood pressure. Hence it protects against heart attacks and strokes.
  • Furthermore, bananas are a natural antacid and relieve acidity and heartburn.
  • Lastly, the inside of the banana peel is helpful to relieve the itching caused by an insect bite.

Consequently, Madeira bananas are healthy.  Lastly, do enjoy them!

Banana da Madeira Portugal Hence Madeira Banana

Sources:

  1. Ribeiro, & Silva, A. 1998. Preliminary studies of Cavendish banana cultivars under the edafoclimatic conditions of Madeira Island. Acta Horticulturae 490: 85-88
  2. Ribeiro, L & A Silva, J & Aguiar, Antonio & Pestana, Margarida & Rodrigues, M. (2009). Main pests and diseases of bananas on Madeira Island. 123-132.

Sources for Medical Uses 1:

  • [1] G H Rabbani, Telahun Teka, Shyamal Kumar Saha, Badiuz Zaman, Naseha Majid, Makhduma Khatun, Mohammad A Wahed, George J Fuchs. Green banana and pectin improve small intestinal permeability and hence reduce fluid loss in Bangladeshi children with persistent diarrhea. Dig Dis Sci. 2004 Mar;49(3):475-84. PMID: 15139502
  • [2] G H Rabbani, T Teka, B Zaman, N Majid, M Khatun, G J Fuchs. Clinical studies in persistent diarrhea: dietary management with green banana or pectin in Bangladeshi children. Gastroenterology. 2001 Sep;121(3):554-60. PMID: 11522739
  • [3] G H Rabbani, C P Larson, R Islam, U R Saha, A Kabir. Green banana-supplemented diet in the home management of acute and hence on prolonged diarrhea in children: a community-based trial in rural Bangladesh. Trop Med Int Health. 2010 Oct;15(10):1132-9. PMID: 20831671
  • [4] R K Goel, S Gupta, R Shankar, A K Sanyal. Anti-ulcerogenic effect of banana powder (Musa sapientum var. paradisiaca) and its effect on mucosal resistance. J Ethnopharmacol. 1986 Oct;18(1):33-44. PMID: 3821133
  • [5] D A Lewis, W N Fields, G P Shaw. A natural flavonoid present in unripe plantain banana pulp (Musa sapientum L. var. paradisiaca) protects the gastric mucosa from aspirin-induced erosions. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Jun;65(3):283-8. PMID: 10404428

Sources for Medical Uses 2:

  • [6] Banana peel extract suppressed prostate gland enlargement in testosterone-treated mice. PMID: 19734683
  • [7] Effects of Thai Musa species on prevention of UVB-induced skin damage in mice. PMID: 22986089
  • [8] Hypoglycemic effect of ethanolic extract of Musa sapientum on alloxan induced diabetes mellitus in rats and hence its relation with antioxidant potential. PMID: 16260406
  • [9] Anti-oxidant and anti-hyperglycemic activities of musa sapientum root extracts in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. PMID: 20175413
  • [10] Resistant starch in Micronesian banana cultivars offers health benefits. PMID: 20968236
  • [11] Active compounds from rhizomes of Musa basjoo. PMID: 21141492
  • [12] Musa acuminata (Del Monte banana) lectin is a fructose-binding lectin with cytokine-inducing activity. PMID: 19195858
  • [13] A lectin isolated from bananas is a potent inhibitor of HIV replication. PMID: 20080975
  • [14] Fungus-elicited metabolites from plants as an enriched source for new leishmanicidal agents: also antifungal phenyl-phenalenone phytoalexins from the banana plant (Musa acuminata) target mitochondria of Leishmania donovani promastigotes. PMID: 15105102
  • [15] Achieving asepsis of banana leaves for the management of toxic epidermal necrolysis. PMID: 16766833
  • [16] Sap phytochemical compositions of some bananas in Thailand. PMID: 20681667

Hence, Madeira bananas are undoubtedly Madeira Gold.