Banana - Introduction
Convenient, inexpensive, and delicious-bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the world.
Native to Southeast Asia, bananas are today grown all over the globe and vary in color, shape, and size. The yellow banana, green when unripe, is the most commonly eaten variety.
But different stages of the fruit’s maturity offer different health benefits. So the next time you think you’ve picked up a banana that’s too ripe, or too green- think again before trading it out for another! From heart health and weight loss, to beauty care and digestive support, there are dozens of reasons you should incorporate all varieties of this fruit into your daily diet.
Health Benefits of Bananas
- Control High Blood Pressure
One medium sized banana provides 12% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for potassium, and 16% RDI for magnesium, making it an outstanding source of both nutrients! Getting enough potassium and magnesium has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. For patients with high blood pressure, foods high in potassium, such as bananas, can be used as a remedy to help lower blood pressure.
- Promote Weight Loss
Often coined the “original 100- calorie snack”, yellow bananas are an excellent, healthy, grab"n"go food. Despite being just over 100 calories, bananas are high in fiber- meaning they will keep you feeling full, for a longer period of time than foods with lower fiber content. This can decrease your overall caloric intake for the day, making it a great weight loss tool.
Green bananas also promote weight loss. They are one of the best sources of resistant starch. Resistant starch differs from regular starch in that it is an indigestible carbohydrate. Instead of being digested, it functions like a soluble fiber and feeds the friendly bacteria in your intestines, promoting better digestion. Resistant starch also has fewer calories than regular starch, yet still satisfies hunger the same. So, just like with yellow bananas, green bananas increase the feeling of fullness and result in a decreased appetite.
- Good for Pregnant Women
There are many reasons bananas are a great food choice for pregnant women. First off, bananas are rich in folic acid. Folic acid is used to make extra blood your body needs during pregnancy. In addition, bananas have a high iron content that helps
prevent anemia, which is perfect since the body needs to keep enough blood for the growing fetus and the mother.
Bananas are also great for preventing, or at least helping to ease, some of the not-so-fun side effects of pregnancy. The fruits high fiber content is a great aid to combat constipation. This natural solution is a healthier alternative for chemical laxatives. As mentioned already with the BRAT diet, bananas can help take the edge off of nausea, making them a perfect snack for pregnant women dealing with morning sickness. They also help regulate blood sugar levels when eaten in between meals.
Pregnant women have to be extra careful of their salt intake because it can easily cause the body to retain water and can elevate blood pressure levels. The potassium in bananas helps the body process salt out quickly, decreasing the chances of negative salt-induced side effects.
- Boost Energy and Increase Stamina
Bananas are composed of three different types of sugars: glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Glucose and fructose are quickly absorbed into the blood stream and provide an immediate energy boost. Sucrose, on the other hand, is absorbed slowly and thus keeps blood sugar levels stable so that they never peak and abruptly drop. This spares you the sugar crash that can be a result of other sweet foods, like soda. This longer-lasting energy supply from bananas is great for increasing stamina and endurance.
Bananas are also a great energy-booster for your intellect. Potassium acts as fuel for the brain, making us more alert and receptive to learning, while magnesium helps improve our ability to focus. Various studies have shown bananas, rich in both potassium and magnesium, to be a great snack choice before exams due to their ability to promote concentration.
- Keep Bones Strong
Bananas are chock-full of nutrients that support bone density. Potassium, magnesium, vitamin B, and vitamin C are all extremely great for maintaining strong bones.
Bananas also contain very high amounts of fructooligosaccharide (FOS). Fructooligosaccharide is a prebiotic compound that helps probiotic bacteria to produce digestive enzymes and vitamins. These vitamins and digestive enzymes promote the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, especially calcium,which is one of the most important minerals linked to healthy bones.
- Superfood for Endurance Athletes
Endurance athletes benefit from the carbohydrates (energy) and nutrients found in bananas for a variety of reasons. The majority of muscle cramps, especially leg cramps, are a result of dehydration. Potassium helps the body retain fluid and process salt, eliminating the likelihood of cramps and spasms. Low levels of calcium and magnesium can also increase chances of muscle cramps. Athletes who eat bananas regularly provide their body with a constant supply of these essential minerals.
Bananas also supply you with lots of vitamin C- approximately 15% of the RDI can be obtained from just one banana! Vitamin C is essential for strengthening muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It also plays a vital role in keeping your immune system strong under the stress of intense exercise. Vitamin C even helps speed up and promote the repair of wounds and soft tissue damage incurred by rigorous workouts. It also plays an essential role in the synthesis of adrenaline throughout training sessions or performances, such as marathons.
Endurance athletes tend to require more vitamin B6 as a result of the extra strenuous and lengthy workouts they perform. Vitamin B6, found in bananas, aids in cell protection and can help decrease the risk of heart disease.
The carbohydrates in bananas are simply converted to energy. Quick and easy, bananas are a perfect snack for before, during, or after exercising.
- Improve Gut Health and Digestion
Dietary fiber is known for its ability to
promote healthy digestion. Bananas contain two types of fiber: pectin and resistance starch. As discussed earlier, resistant starch skips digestion and serves as food for your gut-replenishing your body by feeding the good bacteria in your stomach.
Studies have shown pectin can help protect the body from colon cancer. The pectin content in bananas, however, decreases as they ripen. So green bananas will offer higher protection for your colon.
Bananas, particularly yellow bananas, are an easy-to-digest food, and thus an excellent choice for when you’re sick with an upset stomach. The BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet is highly recommended for both adults and children dealing with stomachaches, diarrhea, or nausea. Recent studies have even suggested other fruits be added to the BRAT diet to increase fiber, making bananas an especially important component of this remedy.
- Improves Mood and Mental Health
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter often attributed to mood regulation. When serotonin is released, our
mood is enhanced and we feel happy. While serotonin itself is not found in food, tryptophan (which the body converts into serotonin) is. And bananas have a lot of it! Eating this fruit stimulates the body to produce this feel-good hormone, leaving you feeling happier.
Tryptophan has also been found to help promote a healthy sleep schedule. Great for those who suffer from insomnia,
eating a banana before bed can help regulate your sleep pattern. The high amount of B vitamins found in bananas also have a calming effect on the mind and can leave you feeling more relaxed and at peace.
- Skin and Hair Care
Bananas aren’t only good for eating- they’re also an excellent food for your skin and hair.
Full of antioxidants, bananas and their peels have a revitalizing effect on the skin and help repair damaged cells. The peels are especially good for treating acne. The vitamin A in bananas also helps fade dark spots and scars on the skin. The banana peel can be directly applied over blemished areas of the face. Mashed banana combined with other ingredients, such as yogurt and turmeric, can also be mixed together to form a facemask that helps prevent acne and brighten the complexion. Adding lemon juice and honey to the mashed bananas for a facemask will help combat an oily complexion. The
B vitamins in bananas will also help protect your skinfrom harmful free radicals that can cause premature aging.
This fruit is extremely high moisture content is excellent for nourishing hair as well. You can make a simple hair moisturizing mask with nothing but mashed bananas.
The inner side of a banana peel can also be placed on the eyelids to reduce puffiness. The potassium in bananas counteracts fluid retention, commonly caused from heavy salt consumption, riding you of unwanted bags and dark circles around the eyes.
In addition, the peel can be used to relieve itchiness from irritations such as mosquito bites or skin rashes. Mashed bananas have also been used as a topical remedy for irritated or overly dry skin.
- Improves Male Health
Bananas are full of potassium, bromelain, and B vitamins- nutrients that all play a vital role in the production and regulation of sexual hormones. With these natural aphrodisiac properties, bananas can increase libido, sexual function, and enhance stamina. Eating this superfood a few hours before partaking in such activities will provide the fullest benefits.
The magnesium and manganese found in
bananas are also extremely beneficial for male health, as they both help the body maintain a healthy prostate. A deficiency in either has been shown to put the individual at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
How to Include Banana in Your Diet?
- There are a number of ways to consume bananas. The easiest, of course, would be just eating the fruit raw. However, you can incorporate bananas into fresh fruit juices or smoothies to further increase your vitamin intake.
- Bananas can also be added to a peanut butter sandwich, which is a great way to encourage children to eat more of the fruit.
- Green bananas are an excellent cooked snack. They can be boiled whole, with the peel still on, for about 20 minutes. Season as desired, and they’re a low-fat, healthy starch.
- You can also make delicious green banana fries. Simply peel the unripe banana with a knife, chop into strips, and deep-fry, for a great alternative to potato fries.
- Banana flour, one of the newest health trends circulating these days, is a great, gluten-free alternative to less-healthy white flours. Banana flour has a higher starch content - which means you can use less flour overall. The rule of thumb is to use 25% less banana flour than the suggested flour in any recipe. Try substituting banana flour in a brownie recipe for a much healthier version of the dessert.
|Calcium, Ca||5 mg||0.5 %|
|Copper, Cu||0.08 mg||3.9 %|
|Iron, Fe||0.26 mg||1.44 %|
|Magnesium, Mg||27 mg||6.75 %|
|Manganese, Mn||0.27 mg||13.5 %|
|Phosphorus, P||22 mg||2.2 %|
|Potassium, K||358 mg||10.23 %|
|Selenium, Se||1 mcg||1.43 %|
|Sodium, Na||1 mg||0.04 %|
|Zinc, Zn||0.15 mg||1 %|
|Vitamin A||64 IU||1.28 %|
|Vitamin C||8.7 mg||14.5 %|
|Vitamin B6||0.37 mg||18.35 %|
|Vitamin E||0.1 mg||0.33 %|
|Vitamin K||0.5 mcg||0.62 %|
|Riboflavin||0.07 mg||4.29 %|
|Thiamin||0.03 mg||2.07 %|
|Folate, DFE||20 mcg||5 %|
|Niacin||0.66 mg||3.32 %|
|Fiber||2.6 g||10.4 %|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0 %|
|Carotene, alpha||25 mcg|
|Carotene, beta||26 mcg|
|View all +|
- Bioactive Compounds in Bananas and their Associated Benefits - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27041291
- Resistant Starch - A Functional Food that Prevents DNA Damage - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25867310
- 11 Evidence Based Health Benefits Bananas - http://www.alternet.org/food/11-evidence-based-health-benefits-bananas
- Ripe vs. Unripe Bananas: Which are Better for You? - http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-health/ripe-vs-unripe-bananas-which-are-better-for-you/
- Vitamin B6 - http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/vitamin-b6/background/hrb-20058788
Latest Publications and Research on Top 10 Health Benefits of BananaPolyphenolic composition, enzyme inhibitory effects ex-vivo and in-vivo studies on two Brassicaceae of north-central Italy. - Published by PubMed
Enablers of adherence to clinic appointments for children attending an antiretroviral clinic in Northern Nigeria: Perspectives of caregivers and care providers. - Published by PubMed
[Study on Influencing Factors for Induction and Proliferation of Protocorm-like Bodies of Dendrobium officinale]. - Published by PubMed
Investigation of Antidepressant, Anxiolytic and Sedative Activities of the Aqueous Leaf Extract of Musa sapientum Linn. (Banana; Musaceae). - Published by PubMed
Mechanisms for radioprotection by melatonin; can it be used as a radiation countermeasure? - Published by PubMed