The tear-drop shaped, red to purple colour looking flower grows at the end of the banana cluster. They are known as Banana Blossom or Banana Heart or Lafu-Tharo in Manipuri. It is considered as an Asian or Tropical vegetable. Traditionally it was used for treating menstrual cramps, constipation, bronchitis, ulcer problems and many more. The flower has a mild nutty, bitter, starchy and raw taste. When cooked it gives a neutral taste which blends in quite well with fish or any other protein foods and pulses.
The nutritional value of the flower in 100 gm is -
Calories – 51 kcal
Fibre – 5.7gm
Iron – 56.4mg
Magnesium- 48.7 mg
Protein – 1.6g
Fat – 0.6g
Carbohydrate – 9.9g
Calcium – 56mg
Phosphorus – 73.3mg
Copper – 13mg
Potassium – 553.3mg
Vitamin E – 1.07mg
It is also packed with the goodness of Vitamin A, C, anti-oxidants and other minerals into it.
This flower has a number of nutritional benefits. Some of the health benefits of Lafu-tharo in those who are becoming pregnant, pregnancy, lactating or nursing mothers, girls and for the people in general-
1. When this cooked Lafu-tharo is consumed with some curd or buttermilk it helps reduce menstrual cramps and excessive bleedings. This is due to the influence it exerts on the progesterone hormone.
2. This not only cure the cramps but also preventsanaemia which happens during pregnancy or thereafter the delivery. Lafu-tharo contains a lot ofiron which helps increases the RBCs and decreases the Iron deficiency syndromes. Thus, it is beneficial to both the mother and the baby as such.
3. It also helps reduce symptoms like morning sickness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, mood swings, anxiety etc. Consuming it and including this in our daily diet helps a lot.
4. It improves lactation for the breastmilk feeding mothers as they are galactagogic in nature.The quality and quantity of breastmilk is all the more enhanced if it is consumed from eighth or ninth months and continued thereafter.
5. The minerals like potassium, magnesium contain in it helps reduce muscle cramps which develop during pregnancy. Magnesium also helps reduce anxiety and depressions in the body. This magnesium converts into tryptophan and then into serotonin (mood lifter) inside the body. Therefore, it serves as an anti-depressant.
6. Taking Lafu-tharo regularly helps the uterus to regain back its health faster whether its during pregnancy or after delivery.
7. The anti-oxidants present in it which are enriched with phenolic acids, flavonoids, tannins etc. helps clear excessive free radicles within the cells and therefore prevents cancer, heart diseases, gastro-intestinal problemsand many other diseases. It acts as a natural anti-ageing agent and helps individual slow down the ageing process.
8. It helps keep infection at bay. The presence of ethanol in it helps prevent the growth of harmful micro-organisms (like bacteria) into it.
9. The high amount of fibre contain into it helps fight constipation. Constipation is a major problem to many and if not fixed it might even lead to enormous health issues.
10. It helps in controlling diabetes. The flower promotes glucose uptake by the cells and therefore helps in controlling and maintaining the blood sugar levels in the body.
So how are we including Lafu-tharo in our regular diet?
We can use Lafu-Tharo (Banana blossom) in soups, curries, salads, and many more. We Manipuris make Lafu-tharopaknam, Lafu-tharosingjus, Lafu-tharoermobas, etc. we even cook it along with meat, fish, dal products and so on. We can experiment and find out the many recipes available and opted for the ones which suits us the most. Good food should always be included in our diets for a healthy body, mind and soul.