Nutrition

The Health Benefits of Bananas You Didn’t Know About

Mehak Shah

November 6, 2023

Bananas are a staple in almost every Indian family and one of the most traded tropical fruits on a global scale. It is one of the few fruits that comes in a variety of types, colours, and shapes, each with its unique benefits. Since warm conditions are ideal for banana cultivation and harvesting, India is one of the world’s top producers of bananas. 

Bananas are a great addition to the daily diet plan because they are readily available and offer a number of health benefits. Other than being rich in dietary fibre, bananas are also cholesterol-free, fat-free, and virtually sodium-free. This article covers more specifics about the fruit’s nutritional value and other health benefits. 

Nutritional Profile of Banana

A banana’s colour and texture vary as it ripens. Additionally, the nutrients and health benefits of fruit vary depending on its ripening state. Most people favour the sweeter, softer yellow banana. The nutritional value of one medium-sized, yellow but not overripe banana is as follows:

  • Calories: 98 kcal
  • Protein: 0.74 g
  • Fibre: 4,62 g
  • Carbohydrates: 23 g
  • Fat: 0.29 g
  • Sugar: 15.8 g
  • Potassium: 326 mg
  • Magnesium: 28 mg
  • Vitamin C: 12.3 mg

Important Health Benefits of Bananas

Bananas are a fresh, versatile, and reasonably priced fruit. Here are the top health benefits of bananas supported by science.

Banana Improves Heart Health

Potassium is an essential mineral for heart function, particularly for controlling blood pressure. A medium banana offers 10% of the daily value of potassium, making it an excellent source of this mineral. Bananas include magnesium, which, like potassium, helps to maintain heart health by regulating heartbeats. 

There is substantial scientific evidence to support the widely held theory that foods high in potassium, like bananas, can decrease blood pressure and prevent heart disease and strokes. Furthermore, eating a diet high in potassium can help lower heart disease risk by about 27%. 

Helps Lose Weight

Bananas make a healthy snack that can help prevent occasional hunger pangs. Green bananas may be among the most nutritious foods to eat if one is following a weight-loss diet and attempting to stay away from foods that are high in sugar. Banana’s soluble fibre slows down digestion and gives the digestive tract additional bulk, which helps people feel fuller for longer. Furthermore, considering their size, bananas have comparatively few calories.

Helps Improve Digestion

Bananas are high in fibre, making them an excellent food for digestion. Bananas contain dietary fibre in the form of pectin and starch. They may help prevent constipation and soften stools. Moreover, bananas have anti-pathogenic properties that make them effective in treating a range of digestive disorders and enhancing digestive health in general. 

Banana Improves Blood Sugar Levels

Soluble fibre, which is abundant in bananas, forms a gel during digestion when it dissolves in water. Their presence is what gives bananas a sponge-like softness. Additionally, resistant starch—which is difficult for the body to digest—is present in unripe bananas. These two forms of fibre can aid in regulating blood sugar levels. By delaying the stomach’s emptying, a single banana can help balance blood sugar levels. 

The body becoming resistant to insulin is the primary cause of Type 2 diabetes. Regular consumption of bananas, which contain resistant starch, can raise insulin sensitivity by 40–50%. 

Helps Relax and Sleep

Vitamin B6, which is abundant in bananas, has the potential to improve sleep quality. Bananas are known as natural sedatives because they contain tryptophan and magnesium, both of which can induce sleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps the brain create serotonin, which promotes relaxation and improves mood. 

Improves Kidney Health

The potassium content of the diet has a significant impact on the amount of calcium excreted. A high excretion of calcium leaves the body with extra oxalate, increasing the risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones. Approximately 80% of kidney stone cases are calcium oxalate stones, making them the most prevalent form.

The potassium in bananas helps to balance the calcium and oxalate concentrations, lowering the risk of kidney stones. Potassium also contributes to the regulation of urine acidity. As a result, eating one banana a day can significantly improve the kidney stone condition.

Supports Exercise Recovery

Bananas include easily digestible carbohydrates as well as potassium and magnesium, which act as electrolytes. People lose electrolytes when they sweat and when they exercise vigorously. Hence, grabbing a banana to snack on in between workouts can aid in replenishing the body’s electrolyte levels. It can also assist in reducing the likelihood of experiencing exercise-related fatigue and muscular cramping. 

Summary

A banana’s high potassium and easily digestible carbohydrate content gives people an instantaneous, long-lasting energy boost. Bananas are, therefore, a great addition before and during a more extended period of intense workout. Tryptophan, an amino acid naturally present in bananas, is transformed by the body into the happy-making neurotransmitter serotonin. This brain molecule is well known for promoting relaxation and elevating mood. Low in calories and high in nutrients, bananas are a fruit that can aid in weight loss. Bananas’ high fibre content benefits the digestive tract and helps to control blood sugar levels. Bananas are an excellent dietary source of potassium and may be particularly helpful in maintaining the health of the kidneys and heart.

Healthy Banana Recipes

Bananas are not only nutritious and delicious, but they are also convenient. They are delicious as a topping for whole grain toast with peanut butter and an excellent complement to yoghurt, porridge, or smoothies. Here are two simple recipes to try: 

1. Breakfast Banana Pops

Breakfast Banana Pops are healthy and tasty snacks that both adults and children will equally enjoy. Using the below recipe, you can make four servings of Banana Pops with just 5 minutes of preparation time. 

Ingredients

  • Bananas medium-sized: 4
  • Popsicle sticks or spoons
  • Toppings of choice based on your taste preferences (crushed walnuts or pecans, shredded coconut, cheerios, chopped peanuts, pistachio, almonds, rolled oats, chia seeds, or hemp seeds)
  • Tray lined with parchment paper. 
  • Yoghurt, nut butter, or melted dark chocolate 

Method of Preparation

  • Peel all the bananas and cut each of them in half.
  • Insert the chopped bananas onto popsicle sticks or the thin side of a spoon. 
  • Dip them in yoghurt, nut butter or melted dark chocolate.
  • Proceed to roll in desired toppings or stick more extensive toppings on by hand.
  • Place on the tray and freeze it for at least a couple of hours.
  • Once ready, serve and enjoy. 

Note that it is best to use regular unsweetened yoghurt for this recipe. Greek yoghurt can be too thick. 

2. Banana Sabzi (Curry)

Ingredients

  • Asafoetida: ¼ tsp
  • Chilli powder: 1 tsp
  • Cooking banana or plantain medium: 2 
  • Coriander to garnish
  • Coriander powder: ½ tsp
  • Ghee:1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar: 1 tsp (optional)
  • Turmeric powder: ½ tsp

Method of Preparation

  • Heat oil and add in the mustard seeds and asafoetida. 
  • Chop the bananas and add them to the pan. Stir for about 3 minutes.
  • Then, add the turmeric, chilli and coriander powders to the bananas. Do it on low flame.
  • Add salt to taste and a little sugar if you prefer it. Mix them well and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with roti or rice. 

Are Bananas Safe for Everyone?

  • Bananas are not suitable for everyone. For example, some people may develop an allergic reaction to them.
  • People with some medical issues, such as hyperkalemia, can have high potassium levels in their blood. In that situation, it is best to avoid consuming bananas.
  • Some medications function by increasing blood potassium levels. Be especially cautious if someone is taking such medication and is consuming foods high in potassium, such as bananas. 
  • Consuming an excessive amount of unripe or green bananas might lead to gas and bloating. 

Summary

Consuming excessive amounts of green or unripe bananas can make one feel bloated and queasy. Add bananas and other high-potassium foods to the diet with caution if someone is taking medication that increases potassium levels. It also applies to people having high potassium levels due to certain medical conditions like hyperkalemia. Some people may also experience an allergic reaction to bananas. 

HealthifyMe Suggestion

Bananas are a wonder fruit. It helps us to provide energy. Improve mood and play many other functions. With my clients, I use it as a remedy for bloating. 

Bananas having a good amount of potassium helps to reduce water retention. Bananas are a good source of potassium, an essential mineral that plays a key role in regulating the balance of fluids in your body. When you consume potassium-rich foods like bananas, they can help counteract the effects of sodium (salt), which can lead to water retention.

Conclusion

With an incredible dose of potassium, fibre, and tryptophan, bananas can benefit the kidneys, heart, digestion, and mood. Bananas are also a naturally occurring source of sugar and carbohydrates, which makes them a very energising food to eat before working out. But just like most other foods, consume bananas in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. 

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information, please contact our certified nutritionists Here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is the nutritional content of bananas?

A: Bananas are a great source of dietary fibre that provides approximately 3 grams per medium-sized banana. They are also a rich source of potassium, with around 400-450 milligrams per banana.

Q: Can bananas help with weight management?

A: Bananas can help with weight management. The high fibre content in bananas promotes the feeling of fullness and reduces overeating, thus helping with weight management. However, it is essential to have portion control within a balanced diet.

Q: Are bananas a good source of dietary fibre?

A: Yes, bananas are a great source of dietary fibre. A medium-sized banana has 3 grams of fibre, which can help support digestive health.

Q: How do bananas contribute to heart health?

A: The high potassium content in bananas contributes to heart health by helping regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke and heart ailments. Additionally, the fibre in bananas can help lower cholesterol levels, further benefiting heart health.

Q: Can bananas aid in regulating blood pressure?

A: Yes, bananas can help regulate blood pressure due to their high potassium content. Potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels and reduces the risk of hypertension.

Q: What is the impact of bananas on digestion and gut health?

A: Bananas are beneficial for digestion and gut health. They provide dietary fibre, helping with regular bowel movements and promoting a healthy gut microbiome. They can help prevent and cure digestive issues like constipation and may be gentle on the stomach during upset moments.

Q: Can bananas help prevent muscle cramps and support athletic performance?

A: Bananas can help prevent muscle cramps due to their high potassium content, thus helping in muscle function. They are a convenient and energy-rich snack for athletes, providing carbohydrates and essential nutrients for sustained performance.

Q: Are there any potential benefits of bananas for mental health and mood?

A: Bananas may contribute to mental well-being as they contain vitamin B6, which is essential for the synthesis of neurotransmitters like serotonin, potentially supporting mood regulation. The carbohydrates in bananas also provide an energy boost that helps improve alertness and focus.

Q: What are the effects of bananas on energy levels and fatigue?

A: Bananas can help boost energy levels and fight fatigue as they are rich in carbohydrates. Thus, they can provide a quick source of natural sugars and essential nutrients. They also are rich in vitamin B6, which plays a role in energy metabolism, potentially aiding in reducing fatigue.

Q: Can bananas be part of a diabetes-friendly diet?

A: Yes, bananas can be part of a diabetes-friendly diet when consumed in moderation. They are a good source of fibre and provide essential nutrients.

Q: How do bananas benefit skin and hair health?

A: Bananas benefit skin and hair health as they provide vitamins A, C, and B6. They help promote collagen production for skin elasticity and maintain healthy hair. Their natural oils and potassium nourish and moisturise both skin and hair.

Q: What are the potential advantages of eating ripe versus unripe bananas?

A: The advantages of eating ripe bananas include higher sweetness, easier digestion, and enhanced antioxidant levels. Unripe bananas have a lower sugar content that can provide resistant starch for better blood sugar control. Both stages offer nutritional benefits, so the choice depends on the dietary goals and preferences.

Q: Are there any concerns or myths about bananas causing weight gain?

A: There is a myth that bananas cause weight gain due to their sugar content. But they can be part of a healthy diet if consumed in moderation. The rule is to manage portion sizes and include them in a balanced diet for weight maintenance or loss.

Q: How can bananas be used in cooking and recipes for health benefits?

A: Bananas can be used in smoothies for added creaminess, as a natural sweetener in oatmeal or yoghurt, and in whole-grain banana bread for a healthier, nutrient-rich treat that supports heart and digestive health.

Research Sources

Bananas, ripe and slightly ripe, raw

High potassium intake blunts the effect of elevated sodium intake on blood pressure levels

Effects of Native Banana Starch Supplementation on Body Weight and Insulin Sensitivity in Obese Type 2 Diabetics

Diet & Nutrition for Adults with Advanced Chronic Kidney Disease

About the Author

Mehak holds masters in foods and nutrition from Amity university, Noida. She has a keen interest in public health and nutrition and has been in charge of various projects with milestone NGO. She has worked with people over the globe to bring out the changes in their lives and has always been working towards lifestyle modifications via good dietary practices. According to her a healthy lifestyle is not about the destination but all about the journey.


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