With the good comes the bad, they say. And just as bananas bring their potassium rich, slightly sweet goodness, they also support those annoying little white strings. Whether you risk ending up with sticky fingers to remove them or leave them be, they're always unwanted. So what are these white threads and are they safe to eat?
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Phloem bundles. This seemingly simple four-syllable word, which sounds like something out of a biology text book, belies the very important role it plays in the life cycle of everyone's favorite yellow fruit. Essentially, these irritating bits are key in moving nutrients up and down a banana. Without phloem bundles, we would have neither bananas nor the wonderfully delicious things we make with them, like banana smoothies, banana bread, and healthy ice cream.
According to Nicholas D. Gillitt, the vice president of nutrition research and director at the Dole Nutrition Institute, and a man with a Ph.D. in physical/inorganic chemistry, banana strings are perfectly safe to eat. Phew!
“In general, all parts of fruits are healthy. We eat the skins of apples, pears, etc., and we could eat the skins of bananas—including the phloem bundles—if we find them palatable, but there is no evidence to suggest they are harmful,” Gillitt told the Huffington Post.
"Now, [whether they] are palatable is another question..."
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“Any fiber is healthy,” Gillitt said.
“Yes it is potentially possible, but if the phloem bundles are necessary for the adequate disposition of nutrients throughout the plant, and are not truly bothersome, what would be the driver? From a company mission perspective of broadening access to nutrition and healthier eating, we would feel it is a much more important extension of resources to spend research money on breeding disease-resistant or increased nutrient content varieties.”
We have a newfound appreciation for those previously unloved banana strings.
h/t Huffington Post
This is perfect for anyone who just simply cannot go without a cherry in their sundaes. Find the full recipe here at Manitoba Harvest.