Banana is a very popular fruit in the world market and is consumed as staple food in many countries. It is grown worldwide and constitutes the fifth most important agricultural food crop in terms of world trade. It has been classified into the dessert or sweet bananas and the cooking bananas or plantains. It is either eaten raw or processed, and also as a functional ingredient in various food products. Banana contains several bioactive compounds, such as phenolics, carotenoids, biogenic amines and phytosterols, which are highly desirable in the diet as they exert many positive effects on human health and well-being. Many of these compounds have antioxidant activities and are effective in protecting the body against various oxidative stresses. In the past, bananas were effectively used in the treatment of various diseases, including reducing the risk of many chronic degenerative disorders. In the present review, historical background, cultivar classification, beneficial phytochemicals, antioxidant activity and health benefits of bananas are discussed.
Keywords: Bananas; Carotenoids; Flavonoids; Phytosterols; Polyphenols.
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