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Are Bananas Healthy? The Health Benefits of Bananas Explained!

Published on Mar 21, 2018 in Natural Ingredients

Question: What is unique about this banana article that makes it different from all other banana articles? Answer: In this article, I am not going to make a pun about ‘going bananas.’ No promises about staying away from other puns, though. But seriously; they’re everywhere. Try googling “what is the most popular fruit?” and guess what fruit comes up?

The banana – it’s supposedly even more popular in America than the famous apple (which, to be honest, seriously surprised me! Whatever happened to “American as apple pie”? Maybe it’s time for a change of saying…..) There’s a reason these fruits are so beloved – they’re quick, easy to eat – with virtually no cutting/prep required, have numerous health benefits – and taste delicious!

What Are Bananas? Where Do Bananas Come From?

bananas growing on tree

Bananas Growing

The yellow crescents are fruits – to be botanically accurate; berries – because they come from one flower which has one ovary. The banana plant is often confused with a tree since it’s the biggest flowering plant and its pseudostem can be confused for a trunk. Since its stem does not contain woody tissue, it isn’t considered a tree. (Ever heard of someone building anything out of banana-tree-bark? Me neither.)

Bananas are native to India, Australia and South-East Asia, but you’ll find them in over 130 countries worldwide. How come they are so widespread? Probably because the farmers don’t have to worry about them growing abnormally, or anything like that.

Cavendish bananas – which are probably the bananas you love to eat – are all clones. Yup, they’re exactly the same banana. You can virtually take part of any banana plant, replant it, and it’ll reproduce – and the bananas on this new plant are genetically identical to those of the first plant….and the plant before that….and the plant before that….. Because of this, there’s a worry that if one disease were to affect one banana, the entire supply of Cavendish bananas could be wiped out. Here’s hoping that bananas stay healthy, so we can continue enjoying this delicious fruit for years to come!

Banana Nutritional Content Explained

One regular-sized banana is considered one serving, or half a cup of fruit. They’re chock-full of nutrients like: (per serving)

● Potassium: 422 mg
● Protein: 1 g
● Fibre: 2.6 – 3 g
● Vitamin B6: 0.5mg, or 33% of RDI
● Vitamin C: 9 mg
● Magnesium: 34 mg
● Manganese: 0.3 mg
● Minerals like zinc, copper, selenium iron and sodium
● Other vitamins like A,E,K and B vitamins; B-1,B-2, B-3 and B-9

Bananas

Nutritional Bananas

Many people get scared off by the sugar and carb content in bananas. Firstly, even if you’re trying to lose weight, your body still needs sugar, so you have the energy to function. While we all know that too much sugar – or carbs, which your body turns into sugar – is not a good thing (for your health or your waistline), one banana has between 23 and 30 grams of carbs – in comparison to a chocolate chip cookie, which has a whopping 58 grams! And a banana is certainly doing far better things for your body than a sugary chocolate chip cookie would be doing.

Making healthy carb choices is an important part of losing weight and staying healthy. Even though a banana has a high carb count (an apple, in comparison, has around 14 grams), ever notice that while it’s basically impossible to stop at one chocolate chip cookie, it’s far easier to eat one banana and feel satisfied? That’s because the carbs in bananas get released into your body slowly, which keeps you full for longer – unlike a cookie, which can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and leaves you craving for the next one.

In summary: bananas have loads of great things to offer your body and in moderation, make a healthy, filling snack that will leave you full and provide your body with the energy it needs.

Bananas For Digestion Explained

bananas are good for digestion

Bananas For Digestion

They’re also great for your digestive system – surprisingly, bananas are said to help relieve both constipation and diarrhoea (and restore potassium and electrolytes that diarrhoea may have depleted).

Potassium keeps your digestive muscles moving smoothly, and the insoluble fibre in bananas, like pectin, helps keep your food moving easily through your digestive system and keeps your stools wet, which eases constipation. Bananas are also easy on intestinal walls that may be irritated and can be eaten to soothe a stomach ulcer without further irritation.

They’re a high source of the prebiotic fructooligosaccharides, meaning that they help with the growth of good bacteria in your gut, whose job is to fight off organisms that could cause harm to your digestive system. Plus, bananas are an antacid; they help relieve issues like acid reflux, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and heartburn.

bananas are good for the heart

Bananas For Heart Health

Bananas For Heart Health Explained

Your heart hearts bananas! Potassium, which is abundant in bananas, works to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure, helping your heart muscle to pump blood, and clearing your arteries, which prevents your blood clotting.

Since most people are not getting enough potassium, it’s quite likely that you and I should be opting for foods with a higher potassium content (unless you have been instructed otherwise by your doctor). Bananas also have Vitamin C, magnesium, Vitamin B6, and a good dose of fibre, all of which are important to keep your heart healthy and working as it should.

Bananas For Energy & Excercise Explained

You wanna know which foods give you healthy energy? Just ask the athletes – it’s their job to know! Bananas are a popular food amongst athletes, and for good reason – they can give you the sugar rush that you need now, as well as conserve energy in your body for when you need it later.

bananas eaten by athlete

Bananas For Energy

This is because the sugars in bananas are natural sugars called fructose, glucose and sucrose. Fructose and glucose are released into your body quickly, so you get that instant energy boost, whereas sucrose goes more slowly – which means it continues to give you energy later on.

That’s why it’s ideal for a workout because it keeps your energy level up right throughout. Because sucrose doesn’t enter your bloodstream so quickly, it keeps your blood sugar levels stable so you don’t get that spike and then the crash that comes afterwards (like you do when you eat something high in processed sugar). And unlike caffeine, this energy boost isn’t addictive and doesn’t leave you craving for another one.

Even though your body needs carbs for energy, it still uses up energy to digest the carbs, which can make your body tired. The carbs in bananas, though, are easy for your body to digest, leaving you with the maximum amount of energy. The potassium in bananas also helps with your work out: it keeps your muscles functioning and in good shape (think: none of those muscle cramps after a solid workout), and also helps you to stay more alert during exercise.

Vitamin C, fibre, and protein further help to keep your body healthy and improve the quality of your exercise. Bananas can be eaten before you exercise, for energy and after you exercise, since the Vitamin C helps repair damage that may have been caused by your intense workout.

Banana Allergies Explained

allergic to bananas

Banana Allergy

Having convinced you of all the fabulous things bananas can do for you, I’m now going to tell you when you shouldn’t eat bananas: if you’re allergic to them. You’ll recognize a banana allergy from uncomfortable flu-like symptoms such as hives, fever, runny nose or eyes, or itchy mouth and/or throat area, as well as digestion issues like diarrhoea, stomach cramps or vomiting. In severe cases, you may even have an anaphylactic attack, which can be life-threatening, though it isn’t common.

People who are allergic to bananas are typically allergic to pollen (hay fever) and/or the following: latex, kiwi, chestnuts and avocado since they all have a similar protein (chitinase) which triggers the reaction. If you’re allergic to bananas, you might also find that you react to other fruits or vegetables, such as peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and olives.

If you reckon you’re allergic to bananas, visit your doctor and ask to be referred to an allergy specialist. A specialist will be able to tell you the severity of your allergy, and what to take to prevent a reaction. If you’re only mildly allergic, an over-the-counter anti-histamine will likely do the trick. Those who are anaphylactic to bananas, however, will probably be required to carry an EpiPen Auto-Injector with them at all times, in case of a reaction.

An EpiPen contains a chemical called epinephrine, which, when injected into the thigh of a person suffering a severe allergic reaction, can stop symptoms and save the victim’s life. If you do have a banana allergy, make sure to read the ingredients list of all the products you eat – including medication – to make sure they don’t have traces of banana or banana flavouring.

Banana Diet Explained, Before & After Results

banana diet for health

Banana Diet

One of the things I love about bananas is that they are a staple year-round. My supermarket is completely out of watermelon and nectarines, but bananas are still here! I recently started adding one or two bananas to my day. Between meals, I often get very hungry, but I don’t want to eat things I’ll regret later (like the cookies stashed in my freezer!).

I’ve found that bananas satisfy my sweet craving, and tide me over until my next meal. I’m able to wait longer until I eat (instead of eating earlier and then being hungry again sooner), and they’re good at any time of the day. The times that work for me is one banana as a morning snack, between breakfast and lunch, and one as an afternoon snack, between lunch and dinner.

They’re not just keeping me full; they’re also helping me digest my previous meal – win-win!

Conclusion

Bananas can go with so many foods – your morning yogurt or cereal; as a healthier cake to satisfy your sweet tooth; in a salad for lunch; or as a creamy smoothie base – that it’s so easy to incorporate them as part of your diet.

It’s sometimes hard to imagine that something so delicious can be that good for you, but that’s part of the reason why bananas appeal to so many. So next time you visit your grocery store, pick up a couple of these beauties. From your heart to your weight, there’s at least one way you are benefitting from this sweet snack – aside from pleasing your taste buds!

Read about Oats and Almond Health Benefits here at Maple Holistics!