Banana plants are actually the world’s highest growing herb that is part of the Musa family. There are 1000+ varieties of bananas. Most bananas sold for food can be traced back to Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. The vast majority of bananas that are commercially sold in western countries are the Musa Cavendish. Although there is no botanical difference between bananas and plantains, western countries usually refer to plantains as the larger variety that needs to be cooked before eaten.

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Bananas are not only rich with healthy nutrients best known as a source of potassium, magnesium vitamin C folate, and Choline, they are also a good source of electrolytes that help the body recover after exercise. The nutritional content of bananas change as they ripen, starting off with more resistant starch when green and becoming more sugar content as they ripen made up of glucose, fructose, and sucrose.

Bananas have very little protein
Bananas are low in fat
Each banana can provide10% of recommended daily fiber for average adults. The green bananas have a significant amount of resistant starch that aids the gut and regulates blood sugar. Bananas also have fiber such as pectin.
Bananas are rich with antioxidants like lectin, alpha and beta carotene, selenium, choline and vitamin C. The amount of antioxidants may increase as the banana ripens
Magnesium also relaxes the muscles
Ripe bananas are rich in vitamin B6 which aids white blood cell formation and boosts the immune system.
Bananas are a source of tryptophan that is converted to serotonin in the body. Studies show tryptophan may elevate mood and improve memory and learning. Tryptophan may also cause drowsiness.
Lectin and vitamin C are antioxidants in bananas that can help remove cancer causing free radicals and prevent leukemia cells from growing.
Bananas contain fiber, potassium, folate, and antioxidants which can all benefit the heart health.
The potassium in bananas helps prevent clogging of the arteries for safe blood circulation.
Bananas can add additional fiber which has been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. 1-2 bananas a day in place of snacks with high sodium, lowers blood pressure and reduces risk of strokes and kidney disease.
There is significant resistant starch fiber in green bananas which that increases short chain fatty acids that help gut function and regulate blood sugar. Bananas also contain fermentible fibers such as prebiotics, the that help feed probiotics in the gut that aid digestion.
Green bananas can help regulate constipation and prevent diarrhea.
The vitamin B6 in bananas and resistant starch can aid weight loss and reduce the sugar uptake. Bananas can also suppress appetite.
Each banana provides 11% of your daily needs of vitamin C which is a precursor to collagen and helps promote healthy skin,
There has been some evidence that the antioxidants in bananas may reduce wheezing symptoms from asthma. People that are allergic to latex may also be allergic to bananas.
Even though bananas have sugar, the resistant starch in green bananas regulates absorption and keeps the blood sugar from spiking. This gives bananas a relatively low Glycemic Index. Green bananas ground to a pulp have been known to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce some diabetes related liver and kidney disease. The B6 in bananas prevents type 2 diabetes.
Moderate banana consumption should not have adverse effects on diabetes
Banana peel may ease effects of mosquito bites and help wounds heal

Where Bananas are Grown

Bananas are believed to have originated in Southeast Asia. Musa species are native to tropical Indomalaya and Australia. They were first grown as an agricultural crop in Papua New Guinea. Banana plantations were started in the Atlantic Islands, Brazil, and western Africa by the Portugese in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Today, Bananas are produced in 135 countries.

In 2018, the world produced 115.7 million tonnes of desert bananas and 39.5 million tonnes of plantain cooking bananas. 57% of the bananas produced were Musa Cavendish.

India and China were the top producers of commercial bananas,

In 2018, The following top Asian banana producers in millions of tonnes were India (30.8mt), China (11.2mt), the Philippines (9.3mt), and Indonesia (7.3mt).

Most bananas in the western hemisphere are grown in tropical regions of Central and South America and the Caribbean. Production has shifted dramatically due to changing trade laws and conditions related to climate change. Approximately 87% of all bananas are consumed locally in the countries where they are grown.

In 2018, Colombia surpassed Ecuador as the top banana producer in the western hemisphere growing 7.3 and 7.2 million tonnes respectively. They were followed by Brazi (6.8mt), Guatemala (4.3mt), Costa Rica (2.6mt) and Mexico (2.4mt).

African nations have increased their production, led by Cameroon (5.2mt), the Democratic Republic of Congo (5mt), Ghana (4.3mt), Tanzania (4mt) Angola (3.4mt), and Nigeria (2.6mt).

40% of the bananas imported to the US come from Guatemala.
Hawaii is the only US state that grows bananas commercially.

In Season

Bananas are grown year round in tropical regions

Economic Impact

Bananas are the most traded fruit in the world. Bananas are an essential source of revenue and food security for many nations. The vast majority of the banana industry remains within the countries that produce them.

Banana revenues can make up 27-40% of the food import bill of exporting countries like Ecuador, Costa Rica and Guatemala. The highest producing countries like India, do not export due to cost and unfair trade practices and competition on the international market. In smaller banana producing countries, income from banana farming can account for up to 75 percent of total monthly household income for smallholder farmers (Bioversity).

In 2016, global export value of bananas was estimated between US$20-25 billion. Ecuador credited the banana industry with generating about 2million direct and indirect jobs in the country the same year. In the island of Dominica, the banana industry made up approximately 60% of the economy.

Trade policies and factors related to climate change have severely impacted the banana economy. Chiquita, Del Monte, Dole and Fyffes went from dominating 70% of world trade in the 1980s to 40% in 2019 due to the opening of European Union markets and other factors. 30% of the world banana export market is now controlled by multinational companies like Compagnie Fruitière (French) or Agroamérica (Guatemalan) and a large handful of big national companies like Grupo Wong (Ecuador), Grupo HAME (Guatemala) or Grupo Acon (Costa Rica).

Cost of producing bananas is due to direct and indirect labor costs 38 percent; fertilizers, pesticides and agrochemicals make up about 40 percent; transport 7 percent; and the remainder for materials, general services, equipment et al.

Banana producing companies retain approximately 27% of revenue while about 5-9% goes to the laborers. Free Trade regulations make a significant difference.

The United States consumes about 6.4 billion pounds of bananas.
40% of the bananas imported to the US come from Guatemala

The Gros Michel Banana used to dominate the world market before it was destroyed by the fungus referred to as the Panama disease. The Cavendish bananas replaced Gros Michel because it was more resistant to fungus. A new strain of fungus known as Fusarium TR4 threatens to annihilate the Cavendish banana often leading to 40%+ loss in crop yield.

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of banana production differs dramatically depending on whether they are grown on small farms, or large commercial plantations and whether they are for domestic consumption or export. There are major differences depending on where they are grown and how they are regulated.

Demand for bananas has grown in non-producing regions of North America and Europe. To meet demand, banana farmers have planted more acres, improved irrigation, and substantially increased fertilizer application.

Conventional banana production process involves covering banana bunches with polyethylene bags which also contribute to plastic pollution.

Irrigation methods have improved in many commercial plantations. Bananas are usually grown in tropical regions with significant rainfall which determines the amount of irrigation needed.
Commercial banana plantations have increased the use of pesticides leading to reduction in biodiversity of insects in the regions where they are grown.
Excessive use of fertilizers has caused nonpoint source pollution in waterways and led to algal blooms that reduces water oxygen and harms aquatic life. Agrichemicals and sediment are partially linked 60% to the destruction of coral reefs along the coasts of Costa Rica.
Although much of the banana harvest is done by hand, industrial equipment and agrochemicals cause a great deal of air pollution.

Transportation causes substantial air pollution when bananas need to be exported long distances from the tropics to non-producing countries in North America and Europe The refrigerated cargo ships used to transport bananas across the oceans emit estimated 2000 more air pollution than diesel trucks. Trucks, plains and equipment also contribute significant greenhouse gas emissions during the transportation process.

Social Impact

Bananas play a considerable role in the income and food security of many producer nations and are essential for fighting malnutrition. Bananas can provide up to 25% of daily calorie intake in some countries and are an important global food source for millions of people, especially durig seasons when food is short.

Bananas farming is labor intensive. The power of large companies on international markets has led to injustices which include: the suppression of collective bargaining, low wages, poor working conditions, and market manipulation. Working conditions and wages vary.widely depending on the region and regulation.

The restriction on organized labor has led to unsuitable working conditions, long hours, and low wages in many countries of Latin America. Drug cartels have also found ways to influence banana growers in some regions.

Ecuador, Colombia and Peru still have small-scale banana farmers exporting along with large scale commercial plantations thanks to organic and Fairtrade certifications. Small scale farmers in Ecuador sometimes sell to large producers when they are over stretched.

The Caribbean has a mix of small and medium-scale banana producers. The Dominican Republic produces 60% of the domestic bananas organically and has doubled production.

The banana industry is an essential part of the livelihoods of small-growers of the eastern Caribbean islands such as Dominica. Dominica banana exports have fallen from 50% to 1% of world production with the number of farmers dropping from 27K to just a few hundred exporting from St Lucia due to competition, trade policies and storms that have intensified due to climate change

Several African countries have increased banana production mostly for their domestic market. There companies that support exports from Africa to Europe under Fair Trade agreements. The wages for workers are set by the industry as a whole and often do not provide enough for sufficient living standards.

Bananas are an inexpensive, nutritious fruit with many benefits to health and local economies. Large-scale banana production can also have negative social and environmental impacts. It is best to buy organic as local as possible.

How can we make bananas more sustainable?

Banana Nutrition Facts Infographic

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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)








Immune system

Alergies and asthma







Where Grown


Economic Impact

Environmental Impact

Air Pollution

Social Impact