The Health Benefits of Bananas

All hail the humble banana.

You can eat it 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

All that -- and they’re really good for you.

What a Banana Gives You

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.

A Feast of Fiber: It’s no secret that the right amount of fiber in your diet is good for you. An average-size banana gives you 3 grams of it. That’s about 10% of what you need each day. That boost can help keep your bowels working at their best. It can also help keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check, and help ease inflammation.

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.

Powerful Potassium: 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

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 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.

Continued

More Reasons to Go Bananas

Bananas contain several other vitamins.

A medium one will give you a good chunk of the vitamin B6 you should get each day. It also helps with metabolism. And it plays an important role in brain development during pregnancy and infancy, as well as immune system health.

While citrus fruits like oranges are vitamin C giants, bananas also have it. One gives you about 10 milligrams. You should shoot for between 75 to 90 milligrams per day. So your morning banana can get you well on your way.

Vitamin C helps protect us from the damage caused by something 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 our immune system work better and can help you heal better.

Research suggests that bananas can also help you recover 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.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on February 20, 2017

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.”

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