Amazing Health Benefits of Bananas
We all know of that we should have a daily requirement of five fruits and vegetables if we want to help keep a healthy lifestyle. Though this may be common knowledge, it can sometimes seem a bit difficult to maintain. With the vast amount of tastey snacks and treats that can easily be picked up and stored in our pantries, it can be a challenge at times to choose what we know is best for us.
Maybe with a little more knowledge of this very common fruit, the banana, grabbing one throughout the day can be more rewarding than you previously thought. Interestingly unlike most fruits that come from trees, bananas are fruits of large plants that are giant herbs and related to the lily and orchid family.
The term "going bananas" which means going crazy or losing your mind is ironically far from truth when it comes to this fruit. Like many fruits, there are plenty of amazing health benefits that can be gained from adding this simple fruit to our daily diets. Hopefully after reading this, you'll never look at a banana the same way again.
Nutritional Information on a Serving of Banana
Serving size = 1 medium sufficiently ripe banana [about 7″ long and 126 grams (0.28 pounds) in weight]
Total Fat = 0 g; Cholesterol = 0 g; Calories = 110
Potassium = 400 mg (10% of daily recommended value)
Dietary Fiber = 4 g (16% of daily recommended value)
Sugar = 14.8 g; Protein = 1 g (2% of daily recommended value)
Vitamin C = 16% of daily recommended value
Vitamin B6 = 20% of daily recommended value
With the nutritional information highlighted in blue to the right of this article, Let's dive into the incredible health benefits of this very common fruit.
1. Bananas benefit your heart and nerves: Bananas are very high in potassium which is a vital ingredient to keeping your heart and nervous system in good shape. Potassium is essential for proper muscle contraction and plays an important role muscle-influenced activites including;the normal rhythmic pumping of the heart, digestion, muscular movements, etc., Some studies have also linked low potassium intake to high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke. Most of us don't get enough potassium in our diets. Simply including a banana or two in our everyday food choices would take us a step closer in reaching our daily recommended dose of potassium. (references: American Heart Association, University of Maryland Medical Center, Colorado State University).
2. Bananas are good for your kidneys and bones: Again, due to the high potassuim content in bananas, our kidney and bones also benefit greatly. If we intake a normal amount of potassium, it helps suppress calcium excretion in the urine and minimizes the risk of kidney stones. Also, because of suppressed calcium excretion, we minimize the loss of calcium from our body which in turn, reduces the risk of osteoporosis. (references: University of Maryland Medical Center).
3. Bananas as mood enhancers or mild sedatives: Tryptophan, also found in bananas, is one of the 20 amino acids which are building blocks of proteins. It also helps the body to produce serotonin, which gives a calming effect on the brain acting like a mild sedative, creating a stable mood. It's important to note that our bodies do not produce tryptophan naturally. The only way to get it is through our diet, with bananas being one of the easiest ways. (references: Nutritiondata.com, Chemistry Daily, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, NIH MedLinePlus).
4. Bananas are good for your blood: Bananas are one of the highest sources of naturally available vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 plays an important role in converting tryptophan to serotonin and also helps make a crucial ingredient of your blood, hemoglobin. It is also essential for producing antibodies and maintaining a healthy immune response. In addition to helping convert carbohydrates to gluclose allowing us to maintain proper blood sugar levels, a medium banana can take care of 1/5th of your daily recommended intake of vitamin B6 and is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to increase your daily intake of this vitamin (references: NIH Office of Dietary Supplements).
5. Bananas are good for kids: Let me quote this from NIH’s Medical Encyclopedia -
Bananas are part of the BRAT diet, a diet many physicians and nurses recommend for children recovering from gastrointestinal problems, particularly diarrhea. BRAT stands for the different components that make up the diet: Bananas, Rice cereal, Applesauce, Toast. These are binding foods that make the stools harder.
6. Bananas are a good source of dietary fiber: A single serving or one medium sized banana contains 16% of the daily recommended dietary fiber intake for a normal adult. Fiber improves laxation and smooths bowel movements. Diets rich in fiber have also been linked to lower the risk of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. (references: Health.gov, NIH PubMed)
Here in the U.S. bananas are highly affordable and very accessible in just about any grocery store. Though there are many various recipes and ways to enjoy a banana, there's no need to cook or wash them and easy to take along for a quick and healthy snack. They make a great addition to breakfast, and an ideal lunch substitute when running low on time. We can definitely look at bananas as an awesome and affordable dietary supplement.
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