The Health Benefits of Bananas

What Are Bananas?

Bananas are a tasty and convenient source of some important nutrients. People have grown this tropical fruit since ancient times, and its health benefits have been promoted for more than a century.  

You can eat bananas raw or mixed in your favorite smoothie. You can enjoy your own homemade peanut butter-banana sandwich, banana bread, or banana muffins. The possibilities are plentiful.

Plus, bananas:

  • Can be found at your grocery store all year long

  • Are easily stored

  • Come in their own yellow carrying case when you’re on the go

Health Benefits of Bananas

Powerful potassium:A medium banana gives you 450 milligrams, which is 13% of what you need every day. This mineral is a big player in heart health. Potassium-rich foods help manage your blood pressure because they help you get rid of more sodium when you pee. Potassium also relaxes the walls of your blood vessels, which helps lower your BP. 

What’s more, potassium:

  • May lower your risk of stroke

  • Can help keep your bones healthy as you age

  • Helps your muscles work better

  • Can help prevent kidney stones

But if you have kidney problems, too much potassium isn’t good for you. Check with your doctor to see how much you should have.

A feast of fiber: It’s no secret that the right amount of fiber in your diet is good for you. An average-size ripe banana gives you 3 grams of it. That’s about 10% of what you need each day. 

Most of the fiber in bananas is what’s called soluble fiber.It can help keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check, and help ease inflammation.

Green bananas are full of something called resistant starch. It acts like insoluble fiber,which is the kind that can help keep your bowels working at their best. Resistant starch also helps lower your blood sugar. 

In general, foods that are high in fiber make you feel full without extra calories. That also makes them a good choice if you want to shed a few pounds.

Continued

A happier belly:It seems bananas are good for your tummy, too.

The yellow fruit is a source of prebiotics. Those are carbs you don’t digest, but they’re a food source for the more-popular probiotics. Those are the good bacteria found in your gut.

There’s also evidence that probiotics can help with the annoying diarrhea people get after they take some antibiotics.

They can also help:

Probiotics may even help make colds and the flu less severe.

The right amount of carbs:Like all fruits, bananas have carbs. But not so many that folks with diabetes can’t enjoy them. If you have diabetes, you can enjoy half a banana when you need a snack.

They also won’t blow up a low-carb diet. A medium one gives you about 27 grams.

Faster workout recovery: Research suggests bananas can also help you bounce back from strenuous workouts. One study says male cyclists who had a banana before pedaling went quicker and had a faster recovery than those who just drank water.

 

Banana Nutrients

Bananas contain a number of vitamins and minerals.

  • Vitamin B6: A medium banana  gives you about a quarter  of the vitamin B6 you should get each day. It helps with metabolism. And it plays an important role in brain development during pregnancy and infancy, as well as immune system health.

  • Vitamin C: You should shoot for between 75-90 milligrams per day. So with about  10 milligrams,  your morning banana can get you well on your way. Vitamin C helps protect you from the damage caused by things called free radicals. Those are reactions in our body to the food we eat, cigarette smoke, pesticides, and other potentially harmful things. Vitamin C also helps your immune system work better and can help you heal better.

  • Magnesium:This mineral helps control your blood pressure and blood sugar and keeps your bones strong. A banana gives you 8% of what you need. 

  • Vitamin A:  This vitamin is good for your vision and might help protect you from cancer. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on July 17, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

FDA: "Raw Fruits Poster."

American Diabetes Association: “Can you still eat bananas with Type 2 diabetes?”

Mayo Clinic: “Dietary Fiber: Essential for a healthy diet.”

American Heart Association: “How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure.”

News release, American Heart Association.

Colorado State University: “Potassium good for heart, bones and muscles.”

Mayo Clinic: “Do I need to include probiotics and prebiotics in my diet?”

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Prebiotics and Probiotics: Creating A Healthier You.”

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: “Vitamin B6” and “Vitamin C.”

United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28: “Basic Report:  09040, Bananas, raw.”

Huntington’s Outreach Project For Education, At Stanford: “About Free Radical Damage.”

Journal of Proteome Research: “Metabolomics-Based Analysis of Banana and Pear Ingestion on Exercise Performance and Recovery.”

Australian Banana Growers Council, Inc.: “History of Bananas.”

Harvard School of Public Health: “Bananas.”

FDA: “Fruits: Nutrition Facts.”

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: “Magnesium,” “Potassium,” “Vitamin A,” “Vitamin B6.”

American Heart Association: “How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure.”

Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition: “Diets for Constipation.”

Mayo Clinic: “Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet.”

Consumer Reports: “Are Bananas Good for You?”

 

 

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination