15 Health Benefits of Bananas
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 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
- 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
- Riboflavin: 0.2 mg
- Copper: 0.2 mg
- Pantothenic Acid: 0.8 mg
- Niacin: 1.5 mg
- Thiamin: 0.1 mg
- Phosphorus: 49.5 mg
Banana Health Benefits
1. Maintain heart health
Potassium can helps lower high blood pressure and reduce the risks of heart disease and stroke because it regulates blood 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 the development and maintenance of healthy bones.
4. Enhance brain function and memory
Potassium present in bananas helps to control smooth flow of oxygen to the brain, thereby boosting the brain power. Banana is also a rich source of vitamin B6 which may help improve your cognitive function.
In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from Boston’s Tufts University gave a series of cognitive tests to 70 men aged 54-81. They found that the men with higher concentrations of vitamin B6 performed better on two measures of memory than those with lower levels.
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 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. 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. Assist in weight loss
Bananas are great for weight loss too. An average banana contains just about 100 calories, yet it is also high in fiber content. Eating more fiber from fruit and vegetables has repeatedly been linked with lower body weight. In addition, bananas are packed with resistant starch, so they will help keep you feeling full for longer.
12. Skin care
Packed 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.
13. Cure hangover
Banana milkshake sweetened with honey is one of the best remedies for hangover. The banana helps calm your stomach while honey builds up depleted blood sugar levels. Bananas are a natural antacid, which stops you feeling nauseous.
14. 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.
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 Select 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 heat or sunlight as they will ripen the bananas much quicker with its added warmth.
You may also want to keep them by themselves and not touching other fruit. As the bananas ripen, they will hasten the ripening of other fruits in their vicinity.