The Benefits of Bananas
Nutritional Value of Bananas
Serving Size: 1 medium banana
Protein: 1 g
Why You Should Eat More Bananas
It may not be as crisp as an apple, as juicy as a pear, or as pretty as a peach, but that hasn’t stopped Americans from consuming this benefit-rich fruit with fervor. The banana happens to be the most popular fruit in the US, with the average American consuming as many as 28 pounds of them each year – a quantity that far outweighs their annual 19-pound consumption of apples. We have good reason to be so bananas about these healthy treats; the benefits of bananas are certainly no monkey business.
Bananas are one of the best foods you can eat and here’s why.
Bananas have the great advantage of being able to both pick you up and calm you down. They contain a healthy dose of the B6 vitamin, which regulates blood glucose levels and helps your body convert tryptophan (an amino acid) into serotonin (a monoamine neurotransmitter linked to feelings of happiness). As such, bananas have been found to help those suffering from everything from depression to Seasonal Affective Disorder to PMS.
The B6 vitamin in bananas also helps to calm the nervous system while the potassium helps normalize the heartbeat, meaning bananas are a great food to eat if you’re feeling anxious or stressed.
In addition to picking you up and calming you down, bananas help to keep you going. Packed with not one, but three natural and powerful sugars – sucrose, fructose, and glucose – they offer an instant boost of energy that won’t leave you crashing a half hour later. In fact, eating two bananas has been shown to provide enough energy to see you through 90 minutes of vigorous exercise. They’ve also been shown to reduce cramps during a workout and help build muscle. Perhaps this is why I’ve seen bananas at every single marathon my sister has run.
While bananas are chock full of potassium, they’re totally free from fat, cholesterol, and sodium, making them ideal for reducing high blood pressure and fighting the risk of heart attack and stroke. This is just the tip of the iceberg though. As a good source of iron, bananas can help anemic patients by stimulating the production of hemoglobin in the blood. The vitamin C they provide aids in the defense against infections and also helps the body to absorb iron and produce blood. Their high content of vitamin B6 helps in the synthesis of antibodies in the immune system while their healthy dose of pectin and fiber helps soothe and regulate the digestive system. If you need yet more reasons to eat bananas, consider that they’ve been shown to protect against Type II Diabetes, reduce the risk of macular degeneration, and lower your risk of kidney cancer.
Don’t be surprised if one day you find some bananas mixed among the medication aisle. As a food with a natural antacid effect, bananas can help provide relief for heartburn sufferers. They can also help ease the irritation caused by ulcers because they neutralize over-acidity and coat the lining of the stomach.
By keeping blood sugar levels up, bananas can offer a great source of relief for pregnant women who experience morning sickness. Some cultures also tout the banana as a “cooling fruit” that can lower the physical and emotional temperatures of pregnant women.
Even the banana peel contains some remedial powers. Rubbing the inside of it against a mosquito bite can help reduce itching and swelling while placing the outside of it against a wart on your foot can help boost the healing process.
Some Interesting Facts About Bananas
- Bananas are the fourth largest fruit crop worldwide – India is the #1 producer of them.
- Bananas contain five times as much vitamin A and iron as an apple.
- The banana tree is actually a giant herb.
- Bananas are harvested every day of the year, making them available year-round.
- You can actually eat the peel of the banana.
- Banana plants can continue producing fruit for up to 100 years.
- Many experts believe the banana was the first fruit cultivated by humans.
- While bananas are primarily grown in tropical climates, they can also be found in Iceland where the soil is heated by geysers.
- Banana plants typically reach a height of about 15 to 30 feet in a year.
- In addition to yellow bananas, there are red and purple bananas.
- Banana sap can be used as an adhesive.
- The word banana comes from an Arab word – banan – meaning finger. Thus, an individual banana is known as a finger while a bunch of bananas is known as a hand.
- Bananas float in water.
- Bananas were introduced to the US in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Celebration. They attracted more attention than the telephone.
- There are more than 500 different types of bananas worldwide.
- The phrase “going bananas” was first recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary because of the fruit’s connection with monkeys.