Banana is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows in humid, tropical zones. It is one of the most popular tropical fruits and is thought to be originated in Southeast Asia. Today, bananas are probably one of the most widely cultivated crops in the tropical and subtropical regions.
There are more than 1000 varieties of banana 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 found in grocery stores is the long, mildly sweet, yellow-skinned banana called Cavendish bananas.
Bananas are an affordable, delicious and versatile fruit. They can be eaten alone, used in fruit salads, or made into a smoothie or a milkshake.
Aside from being inexpensive and versatile, banana provides many important nutrients that can help you to prevent diseases and keep your body healthy.
Banana Nutrition Facts
Bananas are a great source of fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and potassium. Bananas are also very low in fat and sodium, making it one of the best foods you can choose for health and weight management.
Below are the nutrition facts for one medium banana (118 g), according to the USDA Nutrient Database.
- Calories: 105
- Water: 74.9 g
- Total fat: 0.4 g
- Sodium: 1.2 mg
- Sugars: 14.4 g
- Vitamin B6: 0.8 mg
- Vitamin C: 19.6 mg
- Manganese: 0.6 mg
- Dietary Fiber: 5.9 g
- Potassium: 806 mg
- Magnesium: 60.8 mg
- Folate: 45.0 mcg
Banana Health Benefits
1. Maintain heart health
Potassium can helps lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke because it can improve blood circulation and help your body remove excess sodium.
A meta-analysis was conducted in 2013, examining the associations between potassium intake and incident cardiovascular disease, found that a higher intake of potassium was linked to a 24% lower risk of stroke .
2. Support bone health
The potassium content in banana has been shown to support bone health as well.
One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that potassium could be beneficial in preventing bone demineralization in postmenopausal women. The researchers concluded that potassium bicarbonate helped reduce bone resorption and increase the rate of bone formation .
Banana is also a good source of manganese, which is necessary for the formation and maintenance of bones.
3. Improve vision
Eating banana daily can improve eye health and keep eye-related disorders at bay. A study has found that yellow- and orange-fleshed banana cultivars contain carotenoids, which are precursors of vitamin A .
Vitamin A is an important nutrient for the eyes. It is used in the eye to convert light signals to the signals that are sent to the brain to form images. The lack of vitamin A can lead to night blindness and other eye concerns such as dry eyes.
4. Prevent asthma symptoms
Bananas may help prevent childhood development of asthma. One study in London showed that children who ate one banana per day had a 34 percent less chance to develop asthma . But more research is needed to confirm this finding.
5. Prevent muscle cramps
The potassium in bananas helps in the prevention of muscle cramps during exercise.
The majority of muscle cramps, especially leg cramps, are due to electrolyte imbalance. Potassium helps keep the fluid and electrolyte balance of the body.
Note: eating bananas for cramps won’t cure them, but it may help you prevent them in the first place.
6. Provide instant energy
Packed with three naturally-occurring sugars – sucrose, glucose and fructose – bananas are a perfect choice for a quick energy boost.
According to studies, when bananas ripen, the sugars change to become more easily absorbed which is excellent in aiding recovery after sports, whereas if you consume bananas that are still underripe, they contain higher levels of resistant starch.
7. Improve mood
Banana contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that 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 contain a good amount of insoluble fiber that assists in the proper functioning of the bowel, and thus can help prevent constipation.
Additionally, bananas are easy to digest and are beneficial in preventing diarrhea. The high amounts of water and potassium in bananas can help restore lost electrolytes, keeping you from becoming dehydrated.
9. Protect against stomach ulcers
Bananas are beneficial for people with stomach ulcer in two ways. First, bananas contain protease inhibitors, a compound that helps eliminate certain bacteria in the stomach, including H. Pylori.
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.
10. Weight loss benefits
Bananas are low in calories and high in fiber, which support weight loss.
A medium banana offers about 105 calories and 6 grams of fiber. Fiber plays an important role in weight loss because it slows digestion, which helps you feel full for longer.
In addition to their fiber content, bananas are high in water content, which makes them a fairly low-energy-dense food. As you might guess, most fresh fruits and vegetables work well in a weight loss diet because they’re low in energy density.
11. Skin care
Filled with several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, B6, C, riboflavin, potassium and magnesium, banana works wonders for skin by making it look radiant and youthful.
The potassium in banana moisturizes dehydrated skin, manganese aids in collagen formation in skin cells, and riboflavin, vitamins A, B6 & C, all play a role in keeping your skin healthy.
Mash a medium-size ripe banana and apply it on your cleansed face. Leave on for 15-20 minutes then wash it off with lukewarm water.
Alternatively, mash two ripe bananas and mix it with one tablespoon of organic honey. Apply it on your cleansed face and keep it for 10-15 minutes. Rinse it off with lukewarm water.
Follow either of these remedies once or twice a week to enjoy clear and radiant skin.
Note: it is best to use ripe banana but not overripe as some of their restorative properties might be lost.
12. Hangover remedy
Banana milkshake sweetened with honey is one of the best remedies for hangover. The banana calms the stomach while honey builds up depleted blood sugar levels.
Put a couple bananas in the blender with some plain yogurt and add some honey to sweeten the taste.
13. Relieve morning sickness
Morning sickness is a common symptom of early pregnancy, and is marked by nausea and occasional vomiting.
Banana is a rich source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). This nutrient helps to process certain amino acids (proteins), which may relieve nausea.
Some studies show that women who have severe morning sickness have lower levels of vitamin B6 in their blood. Hence, eating bananas in the first trimester of pregnancy is particularly recommended to pregnant women.
14. Increase libido
Bananas contain an enzyme called bromelain that’s believed to help increase libido and combat impotence. Plus, bananas contain B vitamins, which have been shown to improve mood and may also increase sexual desire.
15. Reduce the itch of mosquito bites
Many people find 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 to reduce the irritation and itch.
How to Pick and Store Bananas
Bananas usually take 3 to 4 days to go from green to ripe yellow, so if you want to eat them soon, go for bananas on the more yellow side. If you want to eat them in a few days, choose more green ones.
Also, be sure to choose the ones that are blemish free. A few small flecks on yellow bananas are fine, but dark spots on the skin usually signal that the fruit inside is bruised.
Store bananas at room temperature and keep them away from direct sunlight as they will ripen faster when exposed to sunlight. You may also want to keep them by themselves as they will hasten the ripening of other fruits in their vicinity.