Going bananas makes it an appealing town

NEW research which shows that bananas are high on the list of foods which can keep you smiling has come as no surprise to the happy people of Murwillumbah -- home of the 54 year-old Tweed Valley Banana Festival.

With many of the hillsides around Murwillumbah covered in bananas some residents say the town not only occasionally goes bananas, but is one of the happiest spots on the planet.

"It is a happy place... 99.9 per cent of our customers are really happy, especially since the rain stopped," said banana lover and retailer Steve Flanagan whose wife Donna runs the Freshly Picked Tomatoes fruit and vegetable shop at Condong.

"We've done spec sheets on all the fruit and vegies to tell people what they are good for. Bananas have tryptophan."

Media reports on the weekend revealed a new book The Serotonin Secret details how tryptophan in fresh foods such as bananas, pineapple, mung beans, tofu, crayfish and spinach are converted by the body into the feel-good chemical serotonin.

The Flanagan's fruit store has an ample supply of those foods, including Crystal Creek lady finger bananas, Eungella cavendish and the locally dried variety, Lava Energy Bananas, as well as another local dried treat, Rainbow Fruit Flats which include pineapple.

Co-ordinator of the Tweed Valley Banana Festival Chris Chrisostomos said he had known for ages that bananas not only make you feel good, but are good for you.

"All you have to do is look at all the people on the Banana Festival committee and everyone who comes to the Banana Festival. They are all happy," he said.

"If you look on our website there are about 50 things that bananas are good for."

According to the author of The Serotonin Secret natural health expert Dr Caroline Longmore a diet high in tryptophan -- an amino acid in bananas which the human body turns into serotonin -- can improve mood and wellbeing.

"Following a diet which contains foods rich in naturally occurring serotonin will improve your mood, leaving you energised and in a state of harmony and wellbeing," Dr Longmore said.

However some mental health experts say that while the theory that tryptophans improve your mood is solid, studies show they don't actually help people who are already medically depressed.

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