11 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Bananas
Bananas are extremely healthy and delicious.
Aside from being very nutritious, they are also a highly convenient snack food.
Here are 11 health benefits of bananas that are supported by scientific research.
Bananas are among the most popular fruits on earth.
Native to Southeast Asia, they are now grown in many warmer parts of the world.
There are many types of bananas available, which vary in color, size, and shape. The most common type is the yellow banana, which is green when unripe.
- Potassium: 9% of the RDI.
- Vitamin B6: 33% of the RDI.
- Vitamin C: 11% of the RDI.
- Magnesium: 8% of the RDI.
- Copper: 10% of the RDI.
- Manganese: 14% of the RDI.
- Net carbs: 24 grams.
- Fiber: 3.1 grams.
- Protein: 1.3 grams.
- Fat: 0.4 grams.
BOTTOM LINE:Bananas are rich in fiber, antioxidants and several nutrients. A medium-sized banana contains about 105 calories.
Bananas are rich in a fiber called pectin, which gives the flesh its structural form (4).
Unripe bananas contain resistant starch, which acts like soluble fiber and escapes digestion.
Furthermore, bananas also rank low to medium on the glycemic index, which is a measure (from 0–100) of how quickly foods increase blood sugar levels.
This means that bananas should not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels in healthy individuals.
However, this may not apply to diabetics, which should probably avoid eating lots of well-ripened bananas and monitor their blood sugars carefully when they do.
BOTTOM LINE:Bananas contain nutrients that can help moderate blood sugar levels after meals. They may also reduce appetite by slowing stomach emptying.
Dietary fiber has been linked to many health benefits, including improved digestion.
A medium-sized banana contains about 3 grams of fiber, making bananas a fairly good fiber source (10).
Bananas contain mainly two types of fiber:
- Pectin: Decreases as the banana ripens.
- Resistant starch: Found in unripe bananas.
BOTTOM LINE:Bananas are fairly rich in fiber and resistant starch, which may feed the friendly gut bacteria and help protect against colon cancer.
No study has directly tested the effects of bananas on weight loss. However, bananas do have several features that should make them a weight loss friendly food.
For starters, bananas contain relatively few calories. An average banana contains just over 100 calories, yet it is also very nutritious and filling.
BOTTOM LINE:Bananas may help with weight loss. They are low in calories, high in nutrients and fiber, and may have appetite-reducing effects.
Potassium is a mineral that is essential for heart health, especially blood pressure control.
Yet despite its importance, most people are not getting enough potassium in their diet (21).
Bananas are a great dietary source of potassium. One medium-sized banana (118 grams) contains 9% of the RDI.
BOTTOM LINE:Bananas are a good dietary source of potassium and magnesium, two nutrients that are essential for heart health.
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of dietary antioxidants, and bananas are no exception.
However, it is a common misunderstanding that the dopamine from bananas acts as a feel-good chemical in the brain.
BOTTOM LINE:Bananas are high in several antioxidants, which may help reduce damage from free radicals and lower the risk of some diseases.
Resistant starch is a type of indigestible carbohydrate found in unripe bananas, which functions sort of like soluble fiber in the body.
As a rule of thumb, you can estimate that the greener the banana is, the higher the amount of resistant starch it contains (31).
On the other hand, ripe (yellow) bananas contain lower amounts of resistant starch and total fiber, but proportionally higher amounts of soluble fiber.
BOTTOM LINE:Bananas contain high amounts of resistant starch or pectin, depending on ripeness. Both may reduce appetite and help keep you full.
Unripe bananas are a great source of resistant starch, and may therefore help improve insulin sensitivity.
BOTTOM LINE:Unripe bananas are a good source of resistant starch, which may improve insulin sensitivity. However, more research is needed.
Potassium is essential for blood pressure control and healthy kidney function.
As a good dietary source of potassium, bananas may be especially beneficial for maintaining healthy kidneys.
One study in women showed that over 13 years, those who ate bananas 2–3 times per week were 33% less likely to develop kidney disease (38).
BOTTOM LINE:Eating a banana several times a week may reduce the risk of kidney disease by up to 50%.
Bananas are often referred to as the perfect food for athletes, largely due to their mineral content and easily digested carbs.
Eating bananas may help reduce exercise-related muscle cramps and soreness, which affect up to 95% of the general population (40).
However, studies have provided mixed findings about bananas and muscle cramps. Some find them helpful, while others find no effects (44).
That being said, bananas have been shown to provide excellent nutrition before, during and after endurance exercise (45).
BOTTOM LINE:Bananas may help relieve muscle cramps caused by exercise. They also provide excellent fuel for endurance exercise.
Not only are bananas incredibly healthy — they’re also one of the most convenient snack foods around.
Bananas make a great addition to your breakfast yogurt, cereal or smoothie. You can even use them instead of sugar in your baking and cooking.
Furthermore, bananas rarely contain any pesticides or pollutants, due to their thick protective peel.
Bananas are incredibly easy to eat and transport. They are usually well-tolerated and easily digested, and simply have to be peeled and eaten.
It doesn’t get much easier than that.
An evidence-based nutrition article from our experts at Authority Nutrition.
Health Benefits of Seafood
Australians are increasingly conscious of the importance of sensible eating habits. A well balanced, nutritious diet and regular exercise are vital factors in a healthy lifestyle.
SEAFOOD IS LOW IN FAT
Seafood averages less than 2% fat. For slimmers, seafood is all good news. All seafood is low in kilojoules, with fewer kilojoules than even the leanest meat or chicken. And of course with seafood you don’t need to trim any fat. Just grill, barbecue, bake, steam, poach or microwave seafood to keep a low kilojoule count.
FISH IS LOW IN CHOLESTEROL
Cholesterol is an essential part of all living animal tissue. But levels of cholesterol can be too high if we eat too much saturated fat. Seafood has very little fat of any kind and what it does have is mostly unsaturated fat. Eating fish two or three times a week can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
SEAFOOD IS HIGH IN PROTEIN
Seafood is an excellent source of top quality protein, and compares favourably with meat and chicken.
SEAFOOD IS HIGH IN VITAMINS & MINERALS
Seafood is an excellent source of many important minerals, including iodine, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. It is also rich in many vitamins, especially the B group.
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat and are essential nutrients that play many critical roles in our bodies. And, just like minerals and most vitamins, our body cannot make them.
Long chain Omega-3s are found in oily fish, non-oily fish and shellfish, and to a lesser extent in meats and eggs. Long chain Omega-3s are used effectively in the body. DHA (a long chain Omega-3 fatty acid) is a major building block of the brain, and the retina in the eye is very concentrated in DHA. Other vital organs, such as the heart, are rich in long chain Omega-3s.
Research has also shown that regular consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of developing Macular Disease (MD). The MD Foundation encourages people to eat fish regularly to ensure that their intake of Omega-3s is adequate.
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