Surprising health benefits of eating and cooking in banana leaves
Banana leaves are famous in African, Asian, and South American cuisines. They are used for serving and preparing a variety of dishes in different countries. Apart from their aromatic twist to food, they have hidden health benefits like the ones we will look at below.
In Uganda specifically, banana leaves are commonly used to prepare matoke along with other plantain or ingredients among a few tribes.
They are also used in preparing stew (oluwombo among the Baganda) and serving. Luwombo Stew is typically roasted goat meat, chicken or beef enclosed in banana leaves.
In Central Africa, banana leaves are used to grill/steam the spiced or marinated fresh fish. The fish is marinated in spices for the Ikan Bakar and wrapped in a leaf. A similar practice is also done for the Liboké de Poisson dish.
Food and stew prepared in banana leaves tend to carry a pleasant aroma that enhances the meal experience.
They are a prestigious cultural item too
In some cultures banana leaves hold a prominent place as a ceremonial item. For example, among the Baganda, the groom and groomsmen are served food inside banana leaves during a customary wedding or introduction.
Let's look at some hidden health benefits of banana leaves
Before modern refrigeration came on the scene, tropical countries used banana leaves to preserve food from getting spoiled. All food is well-preserved whether it is steamed, boiled, fried, baked or grilled using banana leaves.
The leaves are great barriers to flames protecting food from getting burnt. But more than that, the nature of the leaves prevents any leakages thus keeping all the heat and juices inside for a well-cooked meal.
Although there are other lookalikes that share similar qualities like bamboo, corn husks, and lotus, among others, banana leaves stand out for their natural antioxidants. The leaves are rich in antioxidants which are also found in green tea. The antioxidants are absorbed into the food during cooking so don't worry about chewing banana leaves.
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