Numerous people insist on throwing things out when they reach their “best before dates”. It’s easy to let food be left out a little too long and become overly ripe. Bananas are a big casualty of this habitual disposal of good food.
However, they might have even more benefits when they become unappetizingly soft. To some of us, they are relatively cheap and not worth the hassle, but what if this frequent member of your compost wasn’t garbage at all and could fight cancer?
Bananas and TNF
TNF (tumor necrosis factor) is a cytokine (protein) known for the disintegration of cells, like tumor cells. These proteins can identify foreign or harmful cells to destroy them. Having more of these in the body is beneficial when trying to remove cancer from your body.
An article published in the journal Food Science and Technology Research found that when bananas are over-ripe (where they have brown spots like a banana-cow hybrid), they are at their strongest by producing TNF, a protein which fights cancer.
This study done by Haruyo Iwasawa and Masatoshi Yamazaki discovered through in vitro tests on mice cells that extract from older bananas stimulated more production of TNF. Older bananas with brown spots were about 25% more efficient at producing TNF.
Antioxidants and cancer
You might have heard a lot about antioxidants ability to prevent cancer rather than targeting it like TNF does. Consuming foods rich in antioxidants means eating food rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and selenium.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which damage your cells by taking electrons from atoms and molecules. Altering atoms and molecules in this way can damage the cells and its chromosomes, creating cancer. Therefore, antioxidants help us by giving free radicals an electron, so they don’t bother your cells for one.
However, the effectiveness of antioxidants is still up in the air as animal trials show that antioxidants can help, but controlled clinical trials on humans are still indecisive. So when you eat a banana, you could be getting more benefits from TNF than antioxidants.