Bananas are a delicious and convenient source of potassium, an essential nutrient associated with heart health and blood pressure. But there’s more to bananas than their high potassium content. This popular tropical fruit, which has over 1,000 varieties, are loaded with other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Thanks to these components, bananas have been linked to a wide range of health benefits.
On that note, here are eight good reasons to eat more bananas:
1. Bananas provide nutrients.
Bananas are packed with good-for-you nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium and vitamin C, to name a few. Each medium-sized banana contains the following:
• Fiber – 3.1 grams (g)
• Protein – 1.3 g
• Carbohydrates – 24 g
• Potassium – 9 percent of the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI)
• Vitamin C – 11 percent of the RDI
• Vitamin B6 – 33 percent of the RDI
• Magnesium – 8 percent of the RDI
• Manganese – 14 percent of the RDI
• Copper – 10 percent of the RDI
Each banana also has only about 100 calories and consists almost exclusively of water and carbohydrates. Plus, bananas hold almost no fat.
2. Bananas help control blood sugar.
Bananas are a good source of soluble fiber. This type of fiber helps slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, thereby helping control your blood sugar levels. As such, even people with diabetes, a condition marked by high blood sugar levels, can enjoy a banana as part of their daily diets.
3. Bananas promote normal bowel movement.
Bananas also contain a modest amount of insoluble fiber. This type of fiber promotes normal bowel movement and prevents constipation by drawing water into and adding bulk to your stool. If you often get constipated, try snacking on bananas more frequently. You can also try eating a banana for dessert.
4. Bananas aid in weight loss.
The soluble fiber in bananas can help you feel full for longer by helping to release satiety hormones. It can also help delay stomach emptying. As a result, you may feel less inclined to snack between meals or overeat.
In the long run, bananas can make it easier for you to lose weight or maintain a healthy one.
5. Bananas support healthy heart function.
Bananas are rich in potassium, a key mineral that carries an electrical charge. This charge causes nerve cells to send out signals for the heart to beat regularly and for the muscles to contract.
Additionally, potassium offsets the effects of excess dietary sodium. Too little potassium and too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. This is why bananas are an important component of heart-healthy diets, like the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
6. Bananas protect cells from oxidative stress.
Bananas are also excellent sources of antioxidants, such as catechins. These compounds help protect your cells from oxidative stress, which can lead to cell, tissue and DNA damage. Oxidative stress also plays a role in premature aging.
7. Bananas may improve kidney health.
Potassium is also essential for healthy kidney function. One 13-year study showed that women who ate at least two bananas per week were 33 percent less likely to develop kidney disease.
Other studies have linked eating bananas four to six times per week to an almost 50 percent lower risk of developing kidney disease.
8. Bananas reduce exercise-related muscle cramps.
If you exercise regularly, you may want to add a banana to your post-workout meal. Eating bananas helps relieve sore muscles following a workout session, possibly due to their high potassium content.
Potassium helps your other muscles contract properly, not just your heart. You can get cramps more frequently if you’re low on potassium.
Tasty, healthy recipe for banana bread
Soft, ripe bananas are great for making banana bread, a classic comfort food you can serve for breakfast, snack time or even dessert. Follow this recipe to make healthy, heartwarming banana bread.
• 2–3 medium bananas, mashed
• 2 eggs
• 1 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
• 1/2 cup coconut oil
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or raisins (optional)
• 1/3 cup organic maple syrup
• 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a loaf pan and set it aside.
In a bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat the eggs and add the coconut oil, maple syrup, yogurt and vanilla extract.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then add the bananas and walnuts or raisins, if using.
Pour the batter into the greased pan. Top with more cinnamon or banana slices if desired.
Bake for 50–55 minutes. To check if it’s done, stick a toothpick into the loaf. The bread is done if your toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Bananas are packed with essential nutrients and antioxidants and are linked to a wide range of health benefits. To reap the nutritional benefits of bananas, incorporate them into your daily diet by enjoying them for dessert, blending them into smoothies and adding them to your go-to pastry recipes.