By BELINDA SCOTT
AVOIDING bananas is a sign of bent thinking, say nutritionists, athletes and fruit fans.
Yellow is not mellow enough for celebrity dieters, who have snubbed the Coffs Coast's favourite fruit and banned the curvy carbohydrate from their low-carb diets.
But this argument's appeal has been squashed by dietician, Glenn Cardwell. Mr Cardwell has just been appointed as a consultant to the banana industry to provide nutritional information and help dispel myths about bananas.
Mr Cardwell says people who shun bananas and other fruit are soft in the head and the debate stems from looking at food the wrong way.
He said low-carb diets worked on the principle that weight gain was caused by carbohydrate intake, but weight gain really came from scoffing just too many kilojoules or calories, whether they were in the form of carbohydrates, fats or proteins.
An average banana contains 25 grams of carbohydrates, the same amount as one and a half slices of bread. A really king-sized banana can contain as much as 40 grams of carbohydrate, the same amount as two thick slices of bread.
Mr Cardwell mashed up low-carbohydrate diets, saying they tended to be high in saturated fats and low in fibre and could cause side effects like constipation and fatigue.
"In reality it is difficult to consume too many carbohydrates if their source is fruit or vegetables," he said. "Complex carbohydrates provide sustained energy, making bananas an ideal snack food."
He said bananas contained no fat, only 450 kilojoules (110 calories) and were a rich source of dietary fibre, folate, potassium and vitamin B6.
Gee, and we thought bananas were popular because it's okay to eat an unpeeled one even after it has fallen on the floor, you can unzip them with two fingers, they have a built in holder, the shape is amusing, the colour is cheerful; they taste good, you can eat them even if you haven't got any teeth yet, or you've lost the ones you started with; they're available at a shop near you any day of the week, and you can use the leftovers for practical jokes.
There isn't an ounce of fat on Coffs Harbour triathlete Andrew Rowlings, who eats an average of six bananas every day ? and relishes low banana prices.
"I prefer them at 69? a kilogram," he said.
He appreciates the potassium content that helps him avoid muscle cramps as well as the slow-burning energy from a banana's low glycaemic index.
"In endurance races more than 10km, anywhere in the world they hand you bananas ? they're nature's convenience food," he said. "I couldn't do without them.
"People come home and sit down and say they don't have any energy ? they should eat a banana then go for a walk."
Whippet-thin Christine Skewes is one of banana grower Nicky Singh's best customers.
"I eat heaps," she said. "I've always loved my 'nanas. You could say I was brought up on bananas ? I like them for lunch on a roll with sugar."
Our local 'celeb' dieter, Kate (not Moss), said it wasn't so much the bananas that were the problem on a low-carb diet, but what went with them ? 'ice-cream, cream, nuts, chocolate sprinkles, caramel sauce, more ice-cream, sugar ? banana splits aren't just bananas you know'.