The Chemistry of Bananas

Introduction

YouTube Video

Bananas are a commonly known fruit, loved and eaten by all. Whether it be for breakfast or a quick snack you have definitely eaten one at some point. I chose to research about bananas because I wanted to learn more about how chemistry can work together to make up something most people would think to be as simple as growing from a tree. While some may not think too in depth about these yellow fruits, bananas affect lives in many ways. Things like boosting your potassium levels, and your health in general, to helping the environment are a few ways bananas are impactful.


Composition of ...
  • Potassium (K)

  • Vitamin B6 (C8H11NO3)

  • Vitamin C (C6H8O6)

  • Isoamyl acetate (C7H14O2) - responsible for the banana flavor (more specifically its smell)

  • Pectin (C6H10O7) - as the banana ripens the pectin in it increases, which is why they become softer over time and change color



Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

Potassium

Potassium is an electrolyte and the third most abundant mineral found in the body. It helps to regulate many bodily functions and serves to be very important, not just in dietary terms, but as a whole in general. Things like: muscle and heart contracts and many other things all rely on potassium. In regards to bananas, they are very plentiful in this chemical.


Pectin

Pectins are heteropolysaccharides, or in simpler terms, a starch. They are found naturally in fruits and vegetables and are the very things that structurize them. Not only does it provide to help structure the fruits or vegetables but it is the very thing that ripens it.


Isoamyl Acetate

Isoamyl acetate is the key molecule in the bananas scent. While it is not the most abundant compound (as there are many others that play a part in the scent of bananas) it has the most potent smell.


Chemistry's Role
All of the compounds I listed as the most important to the banana are naturally occurring. However, the banana itself is not. While they do grow naturally a lot of the bananas nowadays are genetically modified by companies. You’ll find that they are now cross-breeding different types of bananas with each other to make the banana better/bigger. They’ll take the DNA of one variation of a banana and chemically combined it with another to create a hybrid. Chemistry plays a role in bananas for this reason.


 

Background Research

A banana is a tropical fruit with a yellow, peelable skin with edible pulpy flesh residing within it. The fruit sprouts out from the flowering parts of the tree, but for that to happen it takes time. Within, approximately, 9 months will the bananas finally make an appearance and be ready to be harvested and sold. The banana, unknown to most, is actually classified as a berry and an herb.

The banana is made up of many different components. The main ones would be potassium and pectin. Potassium, of course, is a given whenever you think of this fruit. As for pectin it is what shapes the banana and makes it turn from a vivid green to bold yellow, and then a brown-black color (ripening).

A banana does have a food label that states its nutritional facts and depending on where you buy them, it will possibly be different (this being the brand). As for the chemicals, there are so many that come together to make up this favorite fruit.


Resources

https://scienceandfooducla.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/banana/

  • Shows that while there are many chemicals in bananas there is one prime molecule that makes them smell the way they do.


https://www.chemistryworld.com/podcasts/isoamyl-acetate/7609.article

  • Gives more detailed info on what compound gives bananas their smell


http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=7

  • Shows a much more in-depth look at a bananas nutritional profile and the many various chemicals that make it up.


https://www.livescience.com/45005-banana-nutrition-facts.html

  • While the other sites give more health-based info, this one does the same but showcases the fruit with a more scientific view.


https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/bananas#section2

  • Shows the various components within the banana and what those components do for you.


https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/urban-expeditions/food/food-journeys-graphic/

  • Goes over the process bananas take to be transported into the U.S (while also listing the countries bananas are grown from, and how much those countries export out into other countries); as well as the ripening process and more info on the fruits background.


https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-does-potassium-do#section2

  • Basic info on potassium in foods (more specifically fruit)



About the Author


Caitlin Jimenez is a junior at Billings Senior High School. She is a huge fan of K-pop sensations BTS, as well as ASTRO and LOONA, and spends most of her time listening to music. She works hard in school and always strives to get good grades and maintain her 3.6 GPA. She plans on attending college out of Montana and doing a study abroad sometime in the future.








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