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Aside from their shape, bananas are a very unique and diverse fruit. From banana bread to banana smoothies, this yellow fruit is used in many different foods and recipes. However, what happens if the yellow banana peel turns to black? According to a poll from Karlstad University in Sweeden, 30% of people would throw away a banana entirely if it even had one dark spot on its peel. As a result, the banana has become the primary wasted food item throughout the country of Sweden.

Most people would consider a yellow banana as a “ripe” banana as the fruit is still fresh. While it is true that a black banana is a sign of the fruit decaying and becoming mushy (often referred to as “overly ripe”), it is also true that an overly ripe banana may actually provide more health benefits than a partially ripened one. Here is why overly ripe bananas are superior to “perfectly” ripe and why it is best not to dispose of that black banana:

According to the Journal of Psytochemistry, the reason a banana turns dark is because it is developing Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF). TNF has numerous health benefits such as “neutralizing acidity, which helps in fighting ulcers as well as reducing the risk of kidney cancer by roughly 40%”.  Moreover, these chemicals “have antioxidants that protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity, playing an important role in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease as well as other types of cancers”.  Yellow bananas, while lowering cholesterol levels, are not ripe enough to contain TNF, which is why overly ripe bananas may, in fact, be superior to simply ripe.

Of course, Black bananas can still be used in cooking. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Nelson, TND is heavily used in banana bread and plantain recipes, which may explain why these foods have so many health factors. In that regard, it may even be best to purposefully wait until the banana has turned black. A little extra ripeness can go a long way!

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