From the bright and fresh to the ever so slightly darker yet spotty varieties; banana lovers round the world each have their own favourite. But is any one of them actually a healthier option than the other?
The debate is in full force as of late after a study conducted by Japanese scientists in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Teikyo University discovered that ripe bananas with dark spots contain an abundance of a Cytokine (small protein) known as Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF for short), important for immune homoeostasis. It has been documented in various different studies that TNF can have an anti-tumoral effect that can aid in the prevention and treatment of cancerous growths.
This study has spawned the rise of an influx of offline news reports, online articles and captioned images around the web touting the increased healing power of ripened bananas over the fresh varieties; could it possibly be true? Does this information mean we should all abandon eating fresh bananas from now on and wait for it to ripen first? Well, not so fast there buddy! It’s easy to get caught up in the latest news headlines and rumors that circulate our daily lives, but does this study even hold up, or does it collapse under its own weight?
After researching this study I quickly reached the conclusion that news reports and articles writers took this study highly out of its rightful context, and here’s why… For starters this study was conducted on mice; not a massive deal, of course it’s true that humans and mice have much in common as fellow mammalians, but could account for some level of discrepancy when a study could just as easily be conducted on real people. The biggest issue I had with the conclusions reached by news sources, was that this study didn’t involve the mice eating bananas at all, the mice were in fact injected with a small quantity of the “banana juice”.
There’s no evidence to suggest that the protein TNF can survive the digestive process, nor did the study ever claim to discover the “healthiest banana”. In fact, any study ever conducted on the efficacy of TNF as an anti-cancer agent has had this protein injected directly into the bloodstream, so at this point news sources have “jumped the gun” in favour of “catchy” yet misleading news headlines.
So which one really is the healthiest type of banana? I’d say, as long as the banana isn’t green, hard and difficult to peel, you’re probably good to go. Bananas are a great source of potassium, anti-oxidants and have in fact been found in any state of ripeness to be especially effective in cutting the risk of kidney cancer, who knows how that could apply to other types of cancer! So go nuts as long as you’re eating bananas regularly you can enjoy the health benefits whatever the colour
Biological Response Modifier-like Activities of Bananas – https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/fstr/15/3/15_3_275/_pdf
Fruits, vegetables and risk of renal cell carcinoma – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15455348
Role of TNF in Cancer – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19137269
TNF and Cancer Therapy – http://www.sciencemag.org/content/274/5288/784.short
TNF-α in Cancer Treatment: Molecular Insights, Antitumor Effects, and Clinical Utility – http://theoncologist.alphamedpress.org/content/11/4/397.short