Bananas are incredibly versatile fruits that can be used to make refreshing smoothies, add delicious flavor to a baked meal, or simply eat on-the-go. That might explain why they are one of the world’s most popular fruits and yet so misunderstood. I love eating bananas with everything but is this obsession good for us?
The research says yes. Bananas have a lot more going for them than simply an affordable price and sweet flavor. Studies indicate that the magic number is three–by eating three bananas per day, you provide your body with about 1500mg of potassium, and loads of health benefits.
So what exactly are the benefits?
Here are 10 amazing health benefits of eating bananas every day:
1. Bananas lower high blood pressure.
Studies show eating as little as three bananas a day may lower your blood pressure significantly. A medium-sized banana has about 422 mg of potassium and is nearly sodium-free. The high potassium-to-sodium ratio helps to neutralize the blood pressure-rising effect of sodium in the diet.
So it would seem that your mom’s admonition to reach for a banana instead of that bag of candy or potato chips is very sound advice.
2. Bananas improve digestion.
Bananas are loaded with fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Fiber is an important nutrient in the body because it helps regulate the speed of digestion, slowing it down. Eating a banana will make you feel full longer and can also help with the problem of constipation.
No wonder bananas are often included in breakfast meals. They help you start your day energized and keep you satisfied longer.
3. Bananas improve cardiovascular health.
Eating foods high in fiber is good for the heart, and bananas are full of fiber. A high-fiber diet has been linked with a lower risk of both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD). The soluble fiber present in banana is, in particular, associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.
A healthy balanced diet will provide the essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your body needs–top it off with a banana or two for an extra 4 grams of fiber per fruit.
4. Bananas help create healthy cells.
Bananas are rich in vitamin B6, containing 20 percent of the daily amount required for adult intake. Vitamin B6 helps the body produce insulin, hemoglobin and nonessential amino acids necessary to create healthy cells. It also helps with the production of antibodies that fight infections.
Maybe we should have been saying it different all along: “A banana a day, keeps the doctor away.”
5. Bananas improve GI tract heath.
Since bananas are relatively easy to digest, they are considered non-irritating for the human gastrointestinal tract, or GI tract. In fact, bananas not only ease digestive strain, but also sooth the digestive tract and help restore lost minerals after diarrhea. That is why they are among the first solid foods introduced to babies.
6. Bananas are rich in Vitamin C.
When you think of vitamin C, oranges and strawberries might be the first fruits that come to mind. But a full serving of bananas provides a whopping 15 percent of the daily requirement for this essential nutrient. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that neutralizes harmful free radicals in the body. Free radicals are uncharged atoms, molecules or ions (the “bad guys”) that are constantly destroying cells in your body. Vitamin C also aids in keeping blood vessels healthy and produces collagen that holds muscles, bones and other tissues together.
7. Bananas improve athletic performance.
If you have ever wondered why many athletes love bananas, here’s the reason: Bananas boost the muscles and provide antioxidants and other nutrients naturally. According to a study at the Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab, consuming half a banana every 15 minutes during a cycling time trial test was as effective as drinking a carbohydrate matched sports drink every 15 minutes. No wonder Yohan Blake, the Jamaican Olympics sprinter reportedly eats 16 bananas a day! I wonder if Usain Bolt eats them too!
8. Bananas fight anemia.
Because bananas are high in iron, consuming them can stimulate production of hemoglobin in the blood and help fight anemia. Anemia is a condition where there is a decrease in the number of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood, leading to fatigue, paleness and shortness of breath.
Moreover, Vitamin B6 present in banana regulates blood glucose levels, which can also help those suffering from anemia.
9. Bananas suppress hunger pangs.
This happens not merely because eating bananas makes you feel full for longer, but also due to their pleasant smell. That’s right, the scent of bananas can apparently suppress appetite and hunger pangs! According to this study by Dr. Alan Hirsch of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, smelling bananas when you are hungry can trick your brain into thinking that you’ve actually eaten them.
So, yes, bananas can help you lose weight. Go figure since most trainers suggest they are too high in sugar content. You have to know your facts versus the myths.
10. Bananas lift the mood and help you feel happy.
A medium-sized banana provides about 27 mg magnesium. This mineral can help boost your mood and aid good sleep. Men and women need 420 mg and 320 mg of magnesium per day, respectively. If you’re low on magnesium, you’re likely to suffer from anxiety, irritability, depression and other disorders.
Since many of us don’t get enough magnesium in our diets, consider eating a banana next time you’re having a case of the 3 p.m. munchies. It will fill you up and leave you feeling positive.