The European Union-Central America partnership recently declared Costa Rican bananas the best in the world. Learn why you should be eating more of the fruit.

For over 100 years, bananas have been the lifeblood of Costa Rica. Beginning in the early 1900s, large companies such as Dole and Del Monte set up plantations across the Atlantic countryside. Despite being a small country of less than 20,000 square miles (roughly 30,000 square km), Costa Rica now ranks eighth in terms of production worldwide.

But it’s not just quantity that Costa Rica boasts. The European Union just granted the nation’s bananas “Geographical Indication (IG)” status, a prestigious label recognizing both quality produce and sustainable production methods.

According to Jorge Sauma, the general manager of the National Banana Corporation:

[quote_center]”It is expected that the Geographical Indication label of Costa Rica will be a tool to help improve our competitiveness by differentiating Costa Rican fruit, to try and help the consumer understand the social and environmental efforts the banana sector has been making on a national scale.”[/quote_center]

As it stands, Costa Rica is the only banana-exporting country to receive the distinction, so here are three reasons you should take advantage of our local abundance.

1. Get More ZZZs

Bananas contain melatonin, a hormone your body secrets at night to help you sleep. In a perfect world, the transition from light to dark at sunset would signal the pineal gland in the brain to start producing melatonin naturally. That said, artificial lighting and electronic-dependency have influenced our biological clocks for the worse.

Fortunately many people can achieve better sleep simply by supplementing their bodies with melatonin, and bananas have been found to increase melatonin levels by 180%. Sure an apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a banana a night will keep you from needing that Ambien.

2. Curb Emotional Outbursts

Bananas are filled with nutrients to help regulate your emotions.

First, the fruit’s high iron content will strengthen your blood cells and help protect against anemia — a condition where low iron causes chronic fatigue and occasionally depression. Plus, when you’re full of energy, you’ll be less prone to crankiness or straight up anger.

The amino acid tryptophan is also can be found in bananas. Once consumed, tryptophan gets converted into the neurotransmitter responsible for happy feelings, serotonin. Most antidepressants actually work by prolonging serotonin’s lifespan in the body, thus enhancing its effects. According to Life Extension Magazine:

[quote_center]“Much of what is now known about the role of serotonin in psychiatric and behavioral disturbances comes from studies of tryptophan depletion. Lowering tryptophan levels triggers a corresponding drop in brain serotonin production and can impact mood, impair memory, and increase aggression.”[/quote_center]

These mood effects make bananas a girl’s best friend when dealing with symptoms of PMS. Plus, the fruit’s vitamin B6 and potassium will put an end to bloating and cramps.

3. Digest Food Better

bananafoodIt turns out, bananas are the only raw fruit that can be consumed without distress to the natural lining of the stomach, but their digestive benefits don’t stop there. While their fiber can ensure healthy movement in the tract, the nutrient pectin helps remove toxins and heavy metals. Bananas are also a natural antacid, so you can skip the TUMS. While you’re at it, toss the Gatorade too. Bananas are great at replenishing electrolytes after the flu or dehydration. Finally, bananas have prebiotic properties, meaning they help stimulate the good bacteria in your gut. When these bacteria are out of balance, you are more susceptible to the flu, yeast infections, and diarrhea.

BONUS: Don’t forget to save the peel!

As delicious and healthy as the fruit may be, the peel of a banana is just as useful. Here’s just a quick list of some life hacks you can do with a peel.

  • Relieve itchy bug bites or hives by rubbing the inside of the peel on the affected area.
  • Remove warts by placing the inside of the peel against the skin and taping it in place.
  • Polish leather shoes or purses with the inside of the peel, then buff with a dry cloth for a quick shine.

So what are you waiting for? Go Bananas!