What is a Banana Flower?
Banana blossom is an edible flower and is scientifically known as Musa acuminate. It was originally found in Malaysia and then had spread to India and Myanmar.(1) Banana flower is cooked like a vegetable. It can also be steeped as a tea and can be taken as a nutritional supplement.
Banana flower has a pleasant, sweet, and flowery taste. The sap present in between the petals should be removed before cooking as it has a bitter taste.
Just like banana fruit, the flower’s leaves turn brown and black when exposed to air. This is why the outer layer of the flower should not be peeled until they have to be used.
Nutrition of Banana Flower
The banana flower contains many nutrients along with antioxidants, several minerals, and a small amount of protein. The banana flowers are also low in calories and fat and offer a balance of soluble and insoluble fiber.(2) The soluble fiber plays a role by dissolving in water and forming a gel-like mixture in the gut that can lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. On the other hand, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water but can add bulk to the stool to move through the digestive system.(3)
3.5 ounce of the banana flower contains:(4)
- 23 calories
- 4 grams of carbohydrates
- 1.5 grams of protein
- 0-gram fats
Studies show that being rich in all these minerals, especially fiber makes it helpful in various functions in the body.(5) It also provides all the essential amino acids that the body needs and contains lesser natural sugar than banana fruit and other tropical fruits. It also offers antioxidants including saponins, tannin, and phenols, which protect the body from free radicals.
Health Benefits of Banana Flower
The banana flower is being used as traditional medicine across America, Asia and Oceanic, Africa, and India. However, the traditional uses lack scientific evidence.
Lowers Cholesterol and Blood Sugar
There are several compounds present in the stalk and pulp of banana flowers that may help in lowering blood sugar and cholesterol, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.
The cholesterol-lowering and antioxidant effect may be due to the naturally occurring plant compound called sterols.(6) Plant sterols may help in reducing the absorption of cholesterol from the gut which may further decrease the health marker.(7)
Another study found that when rats were fed a diet containing banana flower powder they had lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels than the group that was given a control diet.(8)
One more study noted that antioxidants quercetin and catechin present in banana flower helped in lowering blood sugar levels. These antioxidants work by blocking the enzyme and carbohydrates.(9)
Aids Gut Health
Being a fiber-rich fruit it can be helpful in digestive health. There is evidence that suggests that fiber intake improves the gut microbiome and also reduces the risk of cancer.(10, 11, 12) Also, fiber helps in increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut.
Prevents Prostate Enlargement
Enlargement of the prostate gland is a common problem amongst men over the age of 50 years. It leads to weak urine stream, retention, and urgency.
Banana blossom is used traditionally for the treatment of urinary issues. An animal study found the anti-inflammatory properties of banana flowers reduced the size of an enlarged prostate gland. The citric acid and amino acid could be responsible for this effect.(13)
Also, the antioxidants present in the banana flower including quercetin plays a role in reducing inflammation in the prostate and improving urinary flow when combined with other remedies.(14)
Prevents Bone Loss
Banana flowers can be helpful in alleviating joint discomfort, a sign of bone loss.
A test-tube study showed quercetin and catechin present in banana flowers helped in preventing bone loss.(15) Due to the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties quercetin can offer bone-protective effects.(16) Also, being a good source of zinc, makes banana flower effective in preventing bone loss.
Downsides of Banana Flower
Side effects linked with the banana flower are rare and it is therefore considered safe for consumption.
However, someone with banana allergies should avoid it. Also, if anyone encounters any health issue after its consumption, a doctor should be consulted.