15 Fruity Fun Banana Facts
What bananas glow in the dark? And are bananas really radioactive? Find out the truth about 'nanas with this nutritious list of fruity facts!
Bananas are one of the world's most popular fruits! They're a healthy snack and a really important part of the world's food supply - but there's a lot more to them than slippery skins and milkshakes. Read on to find out more about these fantastic fruits and how us humans have totally changed them!
You probaby never knew bananas were this interesting!
1. Bananas are technically berries
Yep! A berry is technically a fruit with seeds on the inside - so bananas, cucumbers, pumpkins and avocados are all berries. Even weirder - strawberries aren't! But don't complain to us about it - we don't make the rules up!
2. And banana trees aren't trees!
Ok if you thought the last fact was weird - it turns out banana trees aren't trees either. A tree is made of wood, and a banana plant is made of fibres. This make banana plants technically herbs!
3. We've been growing bananas a long time
Humans have been cultivating bananas for at least 10,000 years - starting off in South East Asia. Banana farming then moved to Africa, and finally the Americas. And as you'll find out a little later - bananas have changed a lot in the last hundred centuries!
4. There are over 1,000 types of banana
That's loads! Bananas are split into 50 different groups and are really different. There's a blue one that tastes like ice cream, a black one, one with a lemony taste - and quite a few that don't taste very nice at all! The one that we usually eat is called the Cavendish banana,.
5. The Cavendish banana is a manmade creation
The bananas that we eat are mass produced to have no seeds, and are produced by cloning. The Cavendish banana itself was bred in 1836 by humans who couldn't be bothered to pick out seeds from the fruit. They just wouldn't exist in the wild. You can think of wild bananas as like wolves, and modern Cavendish bananas like pugs. Delicious, delicious pugs.
6. So how about those wild bananas, eh?
WIld bananas can be quite strange things - and very different to the bananas we're used to. Here's a pic of one that's absolutely full of seeds. Banana seeds are hard, a bit spiky and have been known to break people's teeth!
7. The Cavendish is in trouble
Because Cavendish bananas are all clones of eah other, that means they're all vulnerable to the same diseases. At the moment a lot of people are worried about the spread of a fungal disease that could wipe out much of the world's banana crop. This would be a big deal, and it's happened before! Many scientists say that we've stored up lots of problems for ourselves by becoming too reliant on one type of banana. The solution? Eat other kinds of banana!
8. Bananas are really good for you
Bananas are loaded with potassium (a very important chemical for life), vitamins, antioxidants, fibre and other good stuff. They're a great thing to eat any time of day and come conveniently wrapped... so - they're not just for monkeys!
9. Bananas glow under UV
Well - ripe bananas glow under ultraviolet light. Unripe ones don't, because the UV glow is because of how the chlorophyll in bananas decays. Chlorophyll is the green stuff that plants use to turn sunlight into energy. Very sciencey stuff - but a great party trick if you have a UV light!
10. Bananas are picked when they're green
The bananas you get in in the greengrocers were picked when they were bright green and then shipped to the UK. When they arrive they're ripened in big airtight sheds that are pumped full of ethylene gas. The gas turns them yellow, ready for sale.
11. We eat bananas upside down
Bananas grow the other way round to how we expect - so really, we should peel a banana starting at what we think is the "bottom". Peeling it this way is actually easier and less damaging to the fruit. It's also the way monkeys peel them! So we should really listen to the experts!
12. Monsieur Mangetout didn't like bananas
A Frenchman called "Monsieur Mangetout" (that's Mr Eats All) was famous for eating anything. In his life he ate 18 bicycles, 7 TVs, an entire Cessna 150 light aircraft, and even a Guinness World Records trophy he was given for World's Weirdest Diet. Oddly though, he couldn't stand bananas - and said they made him sick.
13. Banana skins are good for you too!
Banana skins usually get thrown away, but they're perfectly fine to eat. They're even used in traditional medicine! Banana peels are used for things like getting rid of spots, moisturising your skin and treating insect bites. You can even use them to polish your shoes!
14. Banana peels really are slippery
It's not a myth from cartoons - banana peels really are much more slippery than other fruit peels. This is because of the sugary hairs inside them that turn to gel when they get squished. The same chemicals involved are also in our joints, so scientists are hoping that studying banana peels will one day lead to treatments for arthritis, or making better prosthetic limbs. Cool!
15. Bananas are radioactive!
We already mentioned how bananas are high in potassium - but this also means that bananas are naturally very slightly radioactive! Don't worry though, the amount is very safe. In fact, you'd need to eat about 10 million bananas in quite a short time to die from radiation poisoning. And nobody likes bananas that much... do they?