Whenever the world goes completely bananas, as it does on occasion, try going fruity yourself.

Have you ever admired the shape, colour and taste of a banana?

Let us consider the virtues of one of our oldest and most popular fruits.

Alexander the Great was one of the first Europeans to taste the exotic-looking fruit during his campaign in India in 327BC.

The original banana plant can be traced back to Malaysia and is a perennial herb related to the orchid and lily.

Now, about 30 different kinds of bananas exist, including dwarf and red varieties.

Bananas are an excellent source of potassium which helps to offset sodium and regulate blood pressure. It is also an important mineral for muscle and nerve function.

Bananas offer a useful supply of magnesium, vitamin C and B6 and are high in digestible carbohydrates. As natural high-energy snacks, they are popular with athletes.

Handy tip for hangovers: You are less likely to suffer symptoms if you drink two tumblers of water and eat a banana before going to bed.

The fibre in ripe bananas promotes good digestion and encourages the production of butyric acid, a substance that protects delicate gut membranes.

Bananas have a natural antacid effect and are thought to prevent ulcers by creating a barrier between the acid and stomach lining.

In India, some doctors treat ulcers with the powder made from plantains, members of the banana family - plantains should always be cooked before eating.

It is best to choose organic bananas because the skin is highly porous and the fruit may absorb pesticides.

Don't store unripe bananas in the fridge as the cold interferes with the ripening process.

Once bananas are comp-letely ripe with yellow skin and tiny brown flecks, they can be refrigerated for up to two weeks although the skin will turn brown.

Bananas help you feel better as they contain the amino acid tryptophan which is needed to produce serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates your mood and can help you sleep.

Ideal fast food on the go: a banana is beautifully wrapped in legitimate packaging. No waste here - you can even use the skin for a variety of medicinal purposes. Insect bites can be relieved by rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin.

To remove a wart, cut a small piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, yellow side out. Cover and keep it in place with a plaster, exchanging it for a new bit of banana skin every day.

Try mashing them for breakfast as a topping over soaked oats or slice them on to your cereal.

Surely blenders must have been created with bananas in mind - make a delicious shake with live yoghurt or tofu and throw in a banana and a handful of frozen blueberries.

If you have a surplus of ripe bananas, simply peel and cut them into chunks, then store in a plastic bag in the freezer. Use for ice-cold smoothies and fruit sauces.

For a quick dessert, bake bananas in their skins for 15 minutes on a barbecue or in a 400F/200C hot oven.

For taste and versatility, you just can't beat a banana.