Bananas are the most widely eaten fruit in the world, and with good reason.
These delicious, oddly-shaped yellow fruits pack in a lot of health benefits under their thick peel, which by the way is edible and nutritious.
But most people don’t eat this fruit for the health benefits because they are not even aware of how good for them bananas really are. We eat them for the great flavor.
In addition to being tasty, bananas are affordable, portable, easy to digest, readily available year around and are not contaminated with pesticides or pollutants (thanks to their thick peels).
Each banana contains about 105 calories, and consists almost exclusively of water and carbs. Bananas contain very little protein and almost no fat.
The fruit also contains:
* Potassium: 9% of the RDI (recommended daily allowance)
* Vitamin B6: 33% of the RDI
* Vitamin C: 11% of the RDI
* Magnesium: 8% of the RDI
* Copper: 10% of the RDI
* Manganese: 14% of the RDI
* Fiber: 3.1 grams
* Protein: 1.3 grams
* Fat: 0.4 grams
* Salt: 1 mg
* Sugar: 12 gm
* Zero Cholesterol
The carbs in unripe bananas consist mostly of starch and resistant starch, but as the banana ripens, the starch turns into sugar (glucose, fructose and sucrose).
This sugar provides a quick boost of energy any time of the day.
Due to the high iron content in bananas, the fruit is good for those suffering from anemia. The fruit contains easily assimilable iron, folic acid and B12, all of which are extremely useful in the treatment of anemia.
Anemia happens when there is a decreased number of circulating red blood cells in the body.
Too few red blood cells are produced because not enough iron is present in the body.
This can be because of a poor diet, menstruation, frequent blood donation, endurance training, certain digestive conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, surgical removal of part of the gut, and some foods.
Symptoms can include headaches, chest pains, fatigue, shortness of breath and pale skin.
Anemia is a common condition and can usually be remedied by simply eating one banana a day.
This super-food fruit contains several types of potent antioxidants, like beta-carotene and vitamins A, C and E, lutein, dopamine, catechins and selenium.
Antioxidants have been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and degenerative diseases, due their ability to reduce damage from free radicals.
The riper the banana, the higher the antioxidants – so don’t throw them out when they start to turn brown.
Blood Sugar Stabilizer
Bananas rank low to medium on the glycemic index, which is a measure (from 0–100) of how quickly foods increase the blood sugar level.
The glycemic value of unripe bananas is about 30, while ripe bananas rank at about 60.
Bananas contain nutrients that can help moderate blood sugar levels after meals.
They also reduce appetite by slowing stomach emptying so less food is eaten which helps prevent weight gain.
Being overweight increases the risk of developing diabetes and makes those who already diabetics have a more difficult time managing their condition.
Unripe bananas are a good source of resistant starch, which may improve insulin sensitivity.
Recent studies have shown that 15–30 grams of resistant starch per day may improve insulin sensitivity by 33–50% within a month’s time.
According to Ayurveda, which is said to be one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems, bananas have a sweet and sour taste.
The sweet taste is said to bring about a sense of heaviness, but the sour taste is known to stimulate agni (the digestive juices), thereby supporting digestion and helping to build up metabolism.
This is often the first fruit fed to babies due to how easy they are digest and how soothing they are to the stomach.
Bananas are a part of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) that pediatricians typically recommend for a child that has an upset tummy.
Bananas are rich in fiber and resistant starch, both of which feed the friendly gut bacteria and help protect against colon cancer.
Bananas are loaded with fiber, both soluble and insoluble. The soluble fiber slows down digestion and keeps you feeling full for a longer time.
Which is why bananas are often included in a breakfast meal so that you can start your day with a quick boost of energy and keep the full feeling going until lunch time.
Bananas are loaded with potassium that is essential for heart health, especially blood pressure control and keeping the heart beat normal.
The low salt content helps to keep blood pressure stable to prevent the development of high blood pressure.
High fiber foods are said to be good for the heart. According to a study done by University of Leeds in UK, increasing consumption of fiber-rich foods such as bananas can lower risk of both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD).
Keeping potassium at the right level all the time is one of the jobs that healthy kidneys do for your body.
Adding a potassium-rich banana to your daily diet will help keep kidney healthy and functioning properly.
Studies have shown bananas that eating a banana several times a week may reduce the risk of kidney disease by up to 50% in patients predisposed to developing the disease.
Leg Cramp Reduction
When you exercise or engage in a active sport, your body sweats, releasing water and electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride.
Therefore you’re told to consume sports drinks, electrolyte tablets, and lots of water during
physical exertion to help prevent or treat muscle cramps.
Eating a banana before or after physical exertion will replenish the lost potassium and help prevent muscle cramps.
Eating a banana before exercise or intense labor also increases stamina so the body will have enough fuel to continue at a high level of intensity for a longer period of time.
Painful nighttime leg cramps can also be caused by certain medication and medical conditions. A daily banana can also help reduce the frequency and duration of these painful muscle spasms.
Weight Loss Aid
An average banana contains about 100 calories, yet it is also very nutritious and filling.
This low-calorie, portable, available and affordable food makes it a friend to anyone trying to lose weight.
This fruit is easy to take along anywhere you go so when the urge to eat strikes, you can eat a low-cal, high-benefit banana and stay on your weight loss program.
Buying and Storing
- Buy slightly firm bananas so that they last you at least 4-5 days without spoiling
- Store in a cool, dry place, but not in the refrigerator
- Bananas can be frozen as-in and thawed later and used in baked goods or smoothies
- The fruit can be peeled and frozen in a single layer (whole or sliced) and eaten as a frozen treat