Susie Burrell

‘your food, your body, your life’

Which banana for what?

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

When you think of a banana, chances are you think of a regular yellow banana enjoyed as a nutritious snack on the run, chopped into cereal or your favourite smoothie, or tucked into a lunchbox for a natural energy hit so it may surprise you to hear that there are actually more than 1000 different types of bananas. While ½ of these varieties are inedible, there are also plenty of banana varieties that offer plenty from both a taste and nutrition perspective.

So if you have seen a few different bananas popping up, here or when overseas, here is the low down on some of the other popular types of bananas, and how you can enjoy them.

Cavendish

The Cavendish is the most common type of banana both in Australia and globally, with the greatest difference being it’s ripeness and how they are best enjoyed, ranging from green, non-ripe bananas to extremely ripe, brown spotty bananas. The riper the Cavendish banana, the higher the sugar content and glycaemic index. This is compared to green, less ripe bananas which have a much higher starch content which helps to keep blood glucose levels more tightly controlled. For this reason, less ripe bananas are best for those wanting to keep their blood glucose levels tightly controlled.

Green bananas are also extremely high in resistant starch, a prebiotic known for its gut health benefits. Green bananas can also be used to make banana flour which is a gluten free flour alternative that is extremely high in dietary fibre.

Extremely ripe bananas are also extremely sweet and as such make an excellent sugar alterative in baked goods, plus ripened skins can be cooked and utilised as a fibre rich ingredient in healthy baking and smoothies.

Lady Finger

Also known as sugar bananas or baby bananas, Lady Fingers are slightly smaller than regular bananas and are significantly sweeter. Lady Fingers also tend to be a little more expensive per kilo than regular bananas due a longer period needed for growing. This extended time growing gives them the benefit of a delicious creamy sweet taste. Lady Finger bananas also do not go brown when cut, making them ideal for a variety of meals, such as salads, cereals or on pavlovas.

Whilst they are sweeter than larger, Cavendish bananas, their nutritional composition does not differ greatly. These bananas too are bursting with great nutrients including potassium and Vitamins A, B and C!

Green Bananas or Plantains

Closely related to the banana family, plantains remain green when they are ripe and are a much less sweet variety, typically used as a starch in meals in the same way rice or potatoes are. Consumed as a dietary staple in India and the Caribbean, plantains are typically baked, fried or roasted and served as a savoury side dish.

With a much higher amount of starch than regular bananas, along with a lot less sugar, plantains are rich in resistant starch, making them especially good for gut health.

Red bananas or Red Dacca Bananas

With deep red, or even purple skin, red bananas originate from South East Asia and have a subtle sweet flavour that has been likened to the flavour of raspberries. Typically used in desserts red bananas have a very similar nutritional profile to that of regular bananas, the biggest difference is that red bananas have significantly more beta carotene, the pre cursor of Vitamin A in the body than regular bananas.