What are the health benefits of eating bananas?

Bananas are the world’s most popular fruit, and found in almost every home.   Can you imagine a fruit bowl without a banana? 

Originating in South-east Asia, more than 500 varieties are grown in all tropical regions of the world.   But they are not actually grown on a tree.  In fact they are a giant herb, from the same family as lilies, orchids and palms, that grows up to 15 metres.

Today they are the world’s biggest selling fruit, even more popular than apples and oranges.   Why are they so popular?    Perhaps it has something to do with their bright yellow color, the fact they are so easy to eat and taste delicious or perhaps it has something to do with the amazing health benefits of bananas.   

Many people erroneously believe bananas are “fattening” and “high in sugar”. This myth probably arose due to the fact that bananas contain less water and more carbs than other fruits.  It is these carbs that give bananas their energy giving properties and explains why they are so popular among sportspeople and the physically active.  But the fact is one serving only contains about 100 calories.    And eating a banana will leave you feeling full for longer, which makes them a healthy between-meal snack.

healthy bananas

Banana Nutrition

Bananas are a nutritional goldmine.  Low in fat and high in fiber, they also contain vitamins A, C, E, K, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folate, B12, potassium and manganese.  Popular with sportspeople, they are consumed in great numbers after intense exercise to replace lost nutrients.

Health Benefits of Bananas

  • Bananas are one of the best sources of potassium.   In fact one banana provides us with 10% of our daily potassium needs.  This is an essential ingredient for regulating the heart and nervous system.  Potassium is essential for proper muscle functioning and ensures the normal rhythmic pumping of the heart, digestion and muscular movements. 

  • This high potassium content also benefits the kidneys and bones, minimizing the risk of kidney stones and the loss of calcium from the body.
  • Bananas contain tryptophan, one of 20 amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins.    The body does not produce tryptophan naturally, it has to be obtained through food, and bananas are one of the easiest ways to get it.  Tryptophan helps the body to produce serotonin which acts as a mild sedative or mood enhancer.
  • Bananas are one of the highest sources of Vitamin B6, also called Pyridoxine.   This vitamin helps maintain healthy brain function, normal nerve function and is necessary for the metabolism of red blood cells in the body.  It is an essential ingredient for the proper functioning of the immune and nervous systems.  Vitamin B6 assists the body in converting tryptophan to serotonin.
  • A good source of dietary fiber, one banana contains 16% of our daily recommended fiber intake.  Fiber rich diets have been proved to lower the risk of coronary heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
  • They also contain substances called protease inhibitors which help to eliminate the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers, which is why they are recommended when ulcers or the risk of ulcers is present.

check out these banana smoothie recipes

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