Enjoy Nature’s Super-Food in Nicaragua
Nicaragua’s fertile soil and temperate climate provide the perfect environment to cultivate a wide range of tasty fruit and vegetables. In addition to the common yellow banana known all over the world, Nicaragua produces some more unusual varieties such as the red colored ‘banana Caribe’ and rectangular-shaped ‘guineo cuadrado’. But whatever shape, size or color they come in, bananas are packed with vitamins and minerals, offering a nutritious meal or snack with a host of health benefits making them a worthwhile addition to everyone’s daily diet.
Although generally viewed as a fruit, the banana plant is botanically classed as an herb. Banana plants produce a single large purple flower around which the bananas develop. Each plant produces a single bunch of bananas with between 3 and 20 tiers. Once these are harvested, new banana plants start growing around the original plant and these will produce bananas around 12 to 18 months later.
The calcium in bananas is said to aid in building strong bones, while the potassium prevents muscle cramps. The potassium in bananas also helps to lower blood pressure and offers a degree of protection against strokes and heart attacks, while its iron content may prevent anemia. High levels of tryptophan in bananas, which is converted into serotonin, can assist in dealing with depression. Snacking on a banana between meals aids in stabilizing blood sugar and increases alertness. High levels of B-vitamins found in bananas aid in coping with stress.
Wrapped in their own biodegradable packing, bananas make a handy snack at any time of the day. In Nicaragua bananas are used in a variety of ways, including being blended with milk, or baked and served hot with other ingredients such as cheese. Its leaves may be used to wrap other ingredients in before cooking, such as in the traditional Nicaraguan dish nacatamales. Moreover, banana stems can be used to make paper, and overripe bananas are used to make vinegar. Certainly bananas are among nature’s super-foods. So be sure to enjoy the different varieties, prepared in different ways, when visiting Nicaragua.