These dry strings that run up and down the fruit even have a name — "phloem bundles". And they contain nutrients!
We're guilty of throwing out those strings-like things that are attached to a banana. But did you know instead of tossing them, you can actually eat them? Who would have thought? Before you throw out those weird banana "strings", let's learn a little about those pale, dry thread-y structures that run the length of the fruit. Every time you peel the banana, you can see it but did you know they even have a strange name? They're called "phloem bundles" and even have a purpose, reports Huffington Post.
It's been a while but we vaguely remember being taught about phloem and xylem in plant biology classes in school. The two terms describe the complex tissues that transport food and water in a plant, providing it with sufficient food, nutrients, minerals, and water to grow. The phloem is the vascular tissue that delivers nutrients up and down the fruit. So quite obviously, these strings contain nutrients!
Phloem bundles: those long stringy things you see when peeling a banana. pic.twitter.com/U4va7Z1KG8— r.h. Sin (@byRHSin) April 28, 2014
Nicholas D Gillitt, who has a Ph.D. in physical/inorganic chemistry and is the VP of nutrition research and director at the Dole Nutrition Institute elaborated, “Although we have not specifically tested phloem bundles, it is likely that there would be a difference in its nutritional value. Since they are intended to do a specific job, and as such likely have a defined structure which supports that job, they would be expected to have a different compound profile to the regular edible banana flesh. They likely contain more and varied types of fiber and structural components required for their function. Because of this, they probably would have a different nutritional profile for humans." But Nicholas pointed out that "they are, however, present in such small amounts compared to the rest of the banana, that unless you eat a large amount of them individually, they would not be expected to impact the overall nutrition profile of a banana." When asked about the possibility of developing the fruit without the sticky strands, 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?"
Not a lot of people know, these "threads" are actually called phloem bundles, and they play an absolutely vital role in banana development. pic.twitter.com/qL5Ir2tmAE— Steve Cooper (@SteveACooper) October 26, 2020
The phloem bundles have another purpose too! They can even tell you when the fruit is ripe enough to eat. According to The Healthy, "phloem bundles can also be used to determine if your banana is ready to eat. If all of the nutrients haven’t been evenly distributed throughout the fruit yet, then the phloem bundles stay on more tightly; meaning the banana is underripe. The opposite occurs with ripe and overripe bananas, as the “strings” can be removed more easily." Also, don't throw it away because you think something is "weird" about it. “It’s not gross or disgusting it just helps the banana grow and become delicious,” Dr. Elizabeth Trattner A.P. DOM, Doctor of Chinese and Integrative Medicine, told Reader’s Digest. “It is fine to eat and although its structure is a little different than the inside it can be consumed.” Wasn't that some fascinating fruit knowledge? From now on we're embracing the popular fruit, phloem bundles and all!