Banana is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows in humid, tropical zones. It is one of the most popular tropical fruit and is thought to be originated in the Southeast Asia. Today, bananas are probably one of the most widely cultivated crops in the tropical and subtropical regions.
There are many different varieties of bananas throughout the world, ranging in color (from yellow to brown), size (from 4 inches to 9 inches) and weight (from 70 grams to 150 grams). The most common variety is large yellow, smooth-skinned bananas, called Cavendish bananas.
Bananas are economical and versatile fruits that are easy to find in any supermarket around the world. Apart from being inexpensive and delicious, these fruits also provide many important nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium, that can help prevent diseases and keep your body healthy.
Banana Nutrition Facts
Nutrition facts for a medium sized, raw banana (118g)
Health Benefits of Bananas
1. Maintain Heart Health
Potassium can helps lower high blood pressure and reduce the risks of heart disease and stroke because it regulates circulation, sodium, and water retention within the body. Studies have shown that regular intake of bananas can reduce the risk of stroke by up to 20 percent.
2. Keep Kidneys Healthy
As a good dietary source of potassium, bananas are beneficial for maintaining healthy kidneys. When you get enough potassium, your body is less likely to lose calcium in your urine. That keeps your kidneys functioning at their best while also reducing the risk of kidney diseases.
Studies have shown that those who eat bananas 4–6 times a week are almost 50 percent less likely to develop kidney disease, compared to people who don’t eat bananas.
3. Support Bone Health
Bananas’ potassium content also benefits your bone’s health. It helps suppress calcium excretion in the urine. Decreased calcium excretion means more calcium to preserve your bones. Banana is also a good source of manganese which is necessary for bone health and metabolism.
4. Enhance Brain Function and Alertness
Potassium present in bananas helps to control smooth flow of oxygen to the brain, thereby boosting the brain power. A study conducted at a school in Middlesex showed that students who ate one banana three times a day (at breakfast, break and lunch) were more alert and had higher levels of cognitive functioning.
5. Relieve Muscle Cramps
The potassium in bananas also assists in the prevention of muscle cramping following exercise and helps to repair and build muscle, making it an important nutrient for active people.
6. Boost Energy
The high sugar content in bananas will give you an instant and sustainable amount of energy. For that reason, bananas are known as the perfect pre-workout and post-workout food.
7. Improve Mood
Banana contains Tryptophan, an essential amino acid which is responsible for the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone that is known to overcome depression and improve mood. Bananas also contain tyrosine, an amino acid that is used to produce dopamine, another mood enhancing hormone.
8. Prevent Constipation and Diarrhea
Bananas are a good remedy for constipation as they can help normalize bowel functions. Bananas contain a good amount of insoluble fiber that will assist in binding the unnecessary substances and waste within the digestive tract, helping to pull them out of the body.
Additionally, bananas are easy to digest and can help prevent cases of diarrhea. The high amounts of water and potassium in bananas can help restore lost electrolytes, keeping you from becoming dehydrated.
9. Treat Anemia
Being rich in iron content, banana can help stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood, so this fruit is very beneficial in treating anemia, particularly iron-deficiency anemia.
10. Relieve Stomach Ulcers
Bananas are beneficial for people with stomach ulcer in two ways. First, bananas contain protease inhibitors that help eliminate bacteria in the stomach, which is one of the main causes of stomach ulcers.
Secondly, several substances in bananas help produce a thicker protective mucus lining in the stomach that serves as a barrier against stomach acids. They also help neutralize acidity from foods, which can contribute to the formation of ulcers.
11. Aids Weight Loss
Bananas are great for weight loss too. An average banana contains just about 100 calories, yet it is also very nutritious and high in fiber content. Eating more fiber from fruit and vegetables has repeatedly been linked with lower body weight and weight loss. In addition, bananas are packed with resistant starch, so they will help keep you feeling full for longer.
12. Helps To Stop Smoking
Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. Bananas contain nutrients such as vitamins B6, B12, potassium and magnesium, all of which help withdraw nicotine from the body.
13. Cure Hangover
Banana milkshake sweetened with honey is one of the best remedies for hangover. The banana helps calm the stomach, and with the honey, builds up the depleted blood sugar levels. The milkshake soothes the stomach and rehydrate your system. Bananas are also rich in potassium and magnesium, which are severely depleted during heavy drinking.
To make banana and honey milkshake, put one banana and two to three spoonfuls of honey into a blender. Add some milk and beat it to make it a smoothie. Drink this mixture to help relieve the symptoms of a hangover.
14. Prevent Allergies
Banana is very useful for those who are allergic to certain foods. Unlike other protein foods, which contain amino acids that those people can not tolerate and may causes allergy. Bananas contain only benign amino-acids which in many cases are not allergic.
15. Stop Mosquito Bites From Itching
Many people report that the inside of a banana skin can be used to calm an itchy mosquito bite. Try rubbing the affected area with the inner side of a banana skin and the itching and swelling will be reduced.
How to Select and Store Bananas
When buying bananas, look for ones that are bright in color, full and plump. Avoid those with bruises, moist, and dark areas on the skin as these usually signal that the fruit inside is bruised.
The best way to keep your bananas fresh for longer is to buy them when they’re still a little green, and let them sit at room temperature until they’re ready to eat. Don’t put them in the fridge. Placing an unripe banana in the fridge will stall the fruit’s ability to ripen, and, according to the experts at Chiquita Banana, they may not be able to resume the ripening process even if they are returned to room temperature. If you do insist on putting them in the fridge, only do it once the fruit gets a little brown and ripened.