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Benefits of Bananas

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Bananas taste good, they are convenient as a quick snack, and they have numerous health benefits.

The following are 16 evidence-based health benefits of bananas.

 Bananas Are Rich in Nutrients

Bananas contain:

  • Vitamin B6 – a beneficial nutrient for metabolic and immune function (1).
  • Magnesium – helps control blood pressure, muscle function, blood sugar and the operation of the nervous system(2).
  • Vitamin C – helps improve immunity, fights body toxins and creates collagen which is essential for healing wounds(3).
  • Potassium – aids in the regulation of blood pressure, the prevention of kidney stones and the reduction of the risk of bone loss(4).
  • Fiber – helps improve digestion, controls blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of heart disease (5).
  • Folate – responsible for the creation of DNA and genetic matter as well as for cell divisions(6).

In summary: Bananas are high in nutrients, and low in calories, cholesterol, fat, and sodium.

Health Benefits of Bananas 

Bananas May Benefit the Health of the Digestive System.

Due to the high levels of fiber, bananas assist food to move through the digestive system more easily (7).

Resistant Starch is one type of fiber in bananas.  It provides food for good bacteria in the gut.  It also helps gut health by increasing electrolyte uptake in the colon, fluid absorption and blood flow (8).

Pectin, another type of fiber, helps in the fight against colon cancer – less ripe greener bananas contain more pectin (9).

In summary: Fiber in bananas improves digestion, fights colon cancer and feeds intestine bacteria

 Bananas Help Control Blood Sugar

Some people believe that individuals with diabetes should not eat bananas.  However, research suggests that under-ripe bananas are acceptable (10).

Resistant starch and pectin in bananas help regulate blood sugars (11).  Resistant starch travels through the digestive system without being absorbed.

Ripe bananas are higher on the glycemic index than under-ripe bananas (12).

In summary: Resistant starch and pectin help regulate blood sugars.

 Bananas Can Help Insulin Sensitivity

 Individuals with insulin resistance (metabolic syndrome) may benefit from consuming more bananas.

Insulin is a hormone that assists the body to use the glucose from carbohydrates that we eat.

It helps the body use glucose for energy.  In individuals who are insulin–resistant, their cells don’t react efficiently to insulin.

Glucose isn’t used effectively for energy and it may be stored as fat (13).   Insulin resistant is often a precursor to diabetes.

Greener bananas increase insulin sensitivity due to the high levels of resistant starch (14)

In summary: Resistant starch in bananas can improve insulin sensitivity

Bananas

Portrait of Indian male doctor eating banana over white background

 Bananas are Good for Your Heart

The high level of potassium in bananas results in better heart health.

Evidence indicates that increasing potassium significantly lowers blood pressure, a major contributor to cardiovascular disease in adults (15).

Increasing the intake of potassium is associated with a 24% lower stroke risk (16).

In summary: High levels of potassium keep the heart healthy and reduces stroke risk.

 Bananas Fight Free Radicals

Bananas contain high levels of antioxidants.  Dopamine and catechins are the most prevalent (17).

When toxins destroy molecules and atoms in the cells, electrons can be lost.

These atoms and molecules become free radicals and attach to other atoms and molecules with an extra electron.  This will damage the particle to which they join.

The result of free radical damage can be a range of degenerative diseases and premature aging.  Antioxidants offset free radicals leading to improved health.

People who are predisposed to cancer and other degenerative conditions benefit from more antioxidants (18).

In summary: High levels of antioxidants offset free radicals, which would otherwise cause damage to our cells.

 

 Bananas Fight Cancer

The antioxidants in bananas will also help to fight against cancer.  Catechins are very effective at fighting cancerous cells and reducing growth (19).

Yellow bananas have more catechins and so are better able to fight cancer than green bananas (20).

Bananas also stimulate colon bile acid (21).

This can assist in removing toxic bile acids from the digestive system.  This will probably lessen the risk of colon cancer(22).

Traditional cancer treatments are often supplemented with the antioxidant administration (23).

In summary: Antioxidants fight cancer and lessen the risk of colon cancer.

 Bananas Promote Kidney Health

The average banana has 420 milligrams of potassium which is necessary for controlling kidney health.

Consuming bananas can lessen the risk of renal cell carcinoma, a type of cancer.

Researchers determined that women who consumed two to three bananas every seven days were about a third less likely to acquire kidney disease.

People can reduce the risk by up to 50% by eating a banana almost every day (24)(25).

People with diabetes can also suffer from kidney problems.  One study found that eating pasta made from green bananas helped stop kidney damage in type one diabetic patients (26).

In summary: Potassium ensures kidney health and bananas reduce the risk of renal cell carcinoma.

 Bananas Reduce Muscle Soreness

The potassium in bananas reduces muscle soreness.  Potassium is an electrolyte which transmits an electric charge and helps to control muscle function and hydration.

When you perspire, electrolytes including potassium are lost. The result is muscle spasms and pain (27).

Bananas consumed after a workout can (28):

  •  Rehydrate the body and replace electrolytes.
  • Promote quicker recovery.
  • Reduce soreness.

In summary: Potassium in bananas lessens muscle soreness after a workout

post-workout-banana

 Bananas Boost the Immune System

 Bananas have essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients,  which can help the immune system. 

 Ripe bananas boost white blood cells which fight illness (29).

 In summary: The essential nutrients in bananas boost the immune system.

 Bananas Assist Bone Health

 Magnesium is a key nutrient for bone health, by helping the body absorb calcium (30).

Bananas contain high levels of magnesium which result in firmer and stronger bones.

In summary: Magnesium in bananas ensures bones stay strong.

 Bananas Can Help Our Weight Loss Efforts

Bananas are low in calories and they are filling.  Resistant starch will make you feel satisfied and suppress appetite (31).

There is no research to directly link bananas to weight loss.  However, numerous studies have pointed to consumption of more fruits and vegetables as a proven way to lose weight (32).

In summary: Bananas may assist weight loss. They are low in calories and are filling.

 Bananas Provide a Boost of Energy

 The vitamins and minerals in bananas result in a quick increase in energy.

Tyrosine is an amino acid, found in bananas, that increases alertness and motivation.

Combined with natural sugar and vitamin B6, which helps the body to use oxygen, it gives you an energy lift (33).

Consuming a banana during exercise will provide you with the necessary energy boost (34).

In summary: Vitamins and minerals from bananas increase energy levels.

 Bananas Can Help Improve Mood

Eating a banana can decrease stress and improve mood.  The blend of nutrients and vitamins it contains:

  • Vitamin A
  • B6 and C

These work together to contribute to a better mood (35).

 The sugars and fiber improve concentration, and memory (36).

 Bananas can help overcome depression.  They have high levels of tryptophan which the body changes to serotonin. 

 Serotonin is the neurotransmitter which elevates mood. Vitamin B6 in bananas works to create better sleep patterns.

 In summary: Bananas improve mood, reduce stress and alleviate depression.

 Bananas Can Prevent Asthma

 Initial studies have shown that bananas may help prevent asthma in young children. 

 Studies have shown that children who eat one banana every day are 33% less likely to develop asthma (37).    

 Before this is proven 100%, more research is needed.

 In summary: Bananas may help prevent asthma in children.

 Bananas are Easy to Eat

 Bananas are one of the easiest foods to include in your diet. You can eat them alone or add them to other nutritious foods. 

 These could be shakes, smoothies as well as yogurt, oatmeal, and cereal.

 You won’t need a container to transport them as they have a protective thick skin.

 In summary: Bananas are easy to carry and include in the diet.

 Are There Any Negatives to Eating Bananas?

 Some people with latex allergies might have an allergic reaction after eating the banana. 

 Research indicates that between 25% and 50% of individuals with these allergies might have an adverse reaction (38).

 Excessive consumption of bananas may bring on issues with sleeping and headaches. 

 This is caused by amino acids that distend blood vessels and the high amount of tryptophan. 

 If this is an issue avoid overripe bananas which have more amino acids.

 Bananas contain a lot of sugar.  Overconsumption of bananas can result in decaying teeth if proper dental hygiene is not observed.

 Bottom line

 Globally, bananas are one of the most nutritious foods.  They are easy to eat and in most places, are very affordable.  Add this wholesome food to your diet to enjoy the wide range of health benefits.

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