Those Annoying White Strings On Bananas Actually Have A Purpose

There's not much about bananas that isn't convenient. They're perfectly packaged, portable, and great for a quick and easy snack. But if we have one complaint, it's those obnoxious little strings between the peel and the flesh of the banana that you have to take the time to locate and remove before it's safe to eat. Skip that step and you're risking gag-inducing trauma like you've never experienced if you accidentally bite into one. So what are they, and why are the infringing upon your snack time?

Dr. Nicholas D. Gillitt, vice president of nutrition research and director at the Dole Nutrition Institute, sat down to talk to HuffPost about those horrible banana strings — and it turns out they actually serve a purpose. In fact, without those annoying strings, which we now know are called phloem bundles, bananas as you know them probably wouldn't exist. 

If you actually retained anything from your junior high biology class, you might remember the terms phloem and xylem, which are the tissues in plants that transport food and water. Phloem is responsible for moving food from the leaves to the rest of the plant. So basically, they're one of the main reason bananas can grow and thrive. Don't you feel bad for hating them now?

And according to Gillitt, there's actually no harm in eating those strings — they're actually even good for you. "In general, all parts of fruits are healthy. We eat the skins of apples, pears, etc., and we could eat the skins of bananas — including the phloem bundles — if we find them palatable, but there is no evidence to suggest they are harmful," he told HuffPost.

Gillitt also says it may be possible to design a banana without phloem bundles, but he doesn't see the point.

"Yes it is potentially possible, but if the phloem bundles are necessary for the adequate disposition of nutrients throughout the plant, and are not truly bothersome, what would be the driver?" he said. "We would feel it is a much more important extension of resources to spend research money on breeding disease-resistant or increased nutrient content varieties." 

Fair point, but he's obviously never struggled to remove every last string from a not-quite-ripe banana.