Do you know which the most popular fruit is? Apples? No, you’re wrong. According to studies bananas are the most consumed fruit in the USA.
It shouldn’t be a surprise. Bananas are sweet, tasty and healthy. But I’m sure that you haven’t thought about what the health benefits of eating a banana are.
Don’t worry. I’m going to tell you everything in details.
Here I’ve prepared a list of the most awesome qualities of the bananas. I’m sure that you’ll look at this delicious yellow fruit with admiration by the end. So, grab a banana and start reading!
#1 Bananas are full of vitamins
So, let’s start with the most important thing. What is the nutritional value of the banana? Or in simple words – Why is this yellow fruit so healthy?
Well, one medium-sized banana consists of:
- Vitamin B6 – 0.43 mg
- Manganese – 0. 32 mg
- Vitamin C – 10.27 mg
- Fiber – 3. 07 g
- Potassium 422.44 mg
- Copper – 0.09 mg
- Protein – 1.29 g
- Fats – 0.39 g
- Carbohydrate – 26.95 g
- Calories – 105.02
As you can see bananas are rich in fiber, vitamin C and B6, manganese and potassium. In fact, a medium-sized banana contains 33 % of the average daily amount of Vitamin B6, 11% of the necessary vitamin C and 10% of the recommended copper.
But aren’t bananas too high in calories and sugar?
Well, ripe bananas have an average score of 51 on the glycemic index. Slightly under-ripe have a score of 42 and over-ripe with brown specs – 48.
Foods that have a score below 55 are considered low. But, bananas consist mainly of water and carbohydrates, so if you’re on a diet, you should take that into account.
#2 Bananas are good for your blood sugar
We already said that bananas rank low to medium on the glycemic index. This means that they won’t cause a major spike in your blood sugar levels. But, is there another reason why they’re excellent for your blood sugar?
Ripe bananas have pectin. Pectin is a type of fiber that delays carbohydrate digestion. It slows down the enzymes which deal with starch and sugar. Unripe bananas contain resistant starch. They are called resistant because they escape digestion and act like soluble fiber.
Both pectin and resistant starch have proven to have a positive effect on the blood sugar levels. They also reduce appetite because they slow down the emptying of your stomach.
But should you eat bananas if you have diabetes? You know that when you have type 2 diabetes, you must monitor your carbohydrate intake.
93% of the carbohydrates in bananas come from sugar (14 g), starch (6g) and fiber.
Fiber doesn’t break down to glucose and doesn’t raise your blood sugar.
But the amount of sugar and starch in a ripe banana could be too much if you are following a low-carb diet.
So, consider under-ripe bananas. We said that they contain resistant starch.
The resistant starch doesn’t have an effect on the blood sugar. Moreover, studies have shown that the resistant starch feeds the good bacteria in your stomach. That leads to improved metabolism and better control of your blood sugar.
Also, resistant starches improve insulin sensitivity. What’s that?
Insulin sensitivity shows how your body reacts to insulin. When your body needs to produce a small amount of insulin to deal with glucose – you’re insulin sensitive. But when your body produces a large amount of insulin to lower your blood sugar – it’s called insulin resistance.
Some researchers state that people who consume 15-30 g of resistant starch show remarkable improvement in their insulin sensitivity – around 33 %. But the matter is controversial, and not all studies agree.
Also, it’s not clear if resistant starch would be as effective for type 1 diabetic, as they are for type 2.
So, you see why bananas could be beneficial if you have type 2 diabetes. Just be careful with the portion. The bigger and riper the banana, the more sugar it would contain.
#3 Bananas helps you lose weight
If bananas are so rich in sugar, how could they be good for weight loss? Well, the effect of bananas on your weight hasn’t been studied directly. But bananas have several properties that make them a weigh-loss friendly food.
It’s true that a banana has 105 calories, but it also has a lot of fiber. And it’s low in protein and fats.
How much fiber does a banana have? In fact, a medium-sized banana contains over 12% (3g) of the recommended daily intake of fiber. Women need around 25 g of fiber, while men should aim for 38 g. So, bananas are a good source of fiber for your diet.
Fiber is excellent for maintaining regular bowel habits, and it’s a good remedy for constipation.
Research has also proven that people who add more fiber to their diet lose weight. Women who took an extra gram of fiber lost around 0.55 lbs.
But why is fiber so good for weight loss?
Because fiber makes you feel full, so you’re less likely to get as hungry as if you eat other rich in carbs food.
Studies also point out that a diet rich in fiber is a good preventive measure against colon cancer. That’s because the fiber shortens the time for which the stool travels throughout the colon.
You remember the resistant starch, right? Well, they are also good for weight loss. They increase fat burning. A study found out that if you swap 5 % of your carbohydrate intake with resistant starch, you’ll see 20-30 % increase in fat burning after a meal.
Animal trials also show that resistant starch encourages your body to release more satiety-inducing hormones.
And even if you don’t change anything else, adding fiber is certain to have a good effect on your body.
#4 Eat bananas for a healthy heart
How can a banana be good for my heart? It sounds impossible, I know. What’s good for your heart? Potassium. And do bananas have potassium? Yes, they do. In fact, it has 422 mg of potassium or 12% of the recommended daily dose. Potassium might not treat heart disease, but it might be the key to preventing them.
Let’s talk about the important role that potassium plays for a healthy heart.
Potassium is an electrolyte. This means that it keeps electricity flowing through your body. So, it is crucial for the normal functioning of your cells, muscles, and heart.
Potassium also helps your heart to squeeze blood through your body. It regulates your heartbeat and lowers your blood pressure.
A diet including potassium, vegetables, and fruits, helps you maintain low levels of bad cholesterol. A study showed that people with such diet have a 27 % lower chance of developing a heart disease.
Also, due to their high level of potassium bananas are good for your kidneys. Why?
If your levels of potassium are low, you’re going to excrete more calcium in your urine. This puts you at a high risk of developing kidney stones.
Bananas also contain magnesium – 32 mg or 10 % of the recommend amount for a healthy person. The role of magnesium is to prevent calcium from combining with oxalate. This reduces the formation of crystals and the chance of getting kidney stones.
However, be aware that too much potassium is not healthy if you have a kidney disease. Since your kidneys don’t filter toxin as they should, they can’t get rid of the excess potassium. It could build in your system, the so-called “hyperkalemia”. This could lead to abnormal heart rate or cardiac arrest.
#5 Bananas can have an anti-inflammatory effect
Some of you might raise their eyebrows. Yes, some specialists include bananas to the inflammatory food list, and they tell you to avoid them.
There is a system that ranks the foods according to their probability to cause inflammation. It takes into account the nutritional value, glycemic index, and other factors to determine the effect of certain foods on the body. The book “The Inflammation Free Diet-Plan” is based on this system.
So according to the system, the banana has a score of – 38. But what does this mean? A zero score neutral, while a score up to – 100 means that the food is slightly inflammatory.
But bananas are also recommended for treating inflammatory bowel disease. As we already now they are rich in soluble fiber. This fiber ferments in the large intestines due to the presence of the good gut bacteria. During this fermentation, a potent anti-inflammatory is produced. It’s called butyrate.
Butyrate is a type of fatty acids. It’s good for your digestive health, and it fuels the cells that line the colon. Moreover, butyrate is linked to colon cancer prevention. It reduces oxidative stress and scavenges free radicals that damaged the cells. For more information on the current research into Butyric acid (Butyrate), see this link.
Bananas also contain known anti-inflammatory like vitamin C, B6, magnesium, copper, iron, beta carotene and much more.
Vitamin B6, for example, helps for heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Magnesium lowers the risk of developing inflammation.
Selenium protects the cells from the free radicals. Some studies even suggest it could be beneficial for arthritis, AIDS, and prostate cancer.
Copper along with iron stimulates red blood cell development. Bananas have 5% of the recommended daily dose of copper.
Bananas also help for stronger bones. How, do bananas have calcium, you ask? Yes, they do – 5. 9 mg to be exact. But they have something even more important. It’s called fructooligosaccharides. It’s hard to pronounce it, I know.
But fructooligosaccharides have a crucial role. They feed the bacteria in your gut so that they could keep producing important vitamins and enzyme. This would help your body absorb the vital nutrients needed for bone strength better. Like calcium and magnesium.
Green bananas have short-chain fatty acids ( SCFAs) that your body can’t break down. That’s why it reaches your large intestine where it feeds the friendly bacteria. The more SCFAs is available, the healthier those cells would be. And this would result in better absorption of all the needed bone nutrition.
Bananas are also a rich in tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid that regulates and stimulates dopamine levels. And dopamine is a brain chemical that affects the mood.
Bananas are also very popular among athletes due to their high vitamin content. Some sportsmen even suggest that bananas are good for exercise-related muscle cramps and soreness. However, studies are inconclusive.
You see that like all fruits and vegetables, bananas also can have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
#6 The hard choice – a ripe or unripe banana?
Reading about ripe and unripe bananas, you might start to wonder: “When is the right time to eat a banana?” Is it better to eat it ripe or unripe? Let’s summarize the benefits of both.
As the banana ripens, the enzymes in it break starch into simple sugar. That’s why the riper the banana, the sweeter it is. And it’s more likely to cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. But a ripe banana is easier to digest. Researchers have also claimed that the more the banana ripens, the more antioxidants and anti-cancer properties it has.
Some state that they could increase the number of white blood cells and boost the immunity. Japanese study states that bananas with dark patches on a yellow skin produce TNF, an anti-cancer agent. However, there is much skepticism on the subject.
Also, some of the nutritional value on the banana is lost when the banana ripens.
Unripe bananas, on the other hand, don’t have as much sugar as ripe ones. They have pro-biotic bacteria that can keep your colon healthy. But unripe bananas are not so easy to digest as ripe one. That’s why they may cause bloating.
So, unripe bananas are an excellent choice for type 2 diabetes. Ripe bananas are perfect for those that want to experience their antioxidant and anticancer effects.
Well, you understand now why bananas are one of the most beloved fruits, don’t you?
If you haven’t found the time to include a banana in your everyday diet, change that. It will certainly have a positive effect on your health. Moreover, they are absolutely delicious.
So, what’s your opinion? Do you agree or disagree with these health benefits of the banana? Tell us what you think in the comments. We always look forward to hearing from you. And don’t forget to share the article with your family, if you think it’s useful. And give us a like!