Banana, this sweet, soft and creamy fruit, is beloved worldwide for its delightful flavor and remarkable health benefits. The scientific name of banana is musa sapientum, which means ‘fruit of the wise men’. There are almost a thousand varieties of banana in the world, but the most popular by far is the yellow banana commonly found in the grocery store, known as the Cavendish banana. Banana is not a seasonal fruit and is available year round. It ranks next to the rice, wheat and maize as food crops. It is the fifth agricultural food crops in terms of world trade, after coffee, cereals, sugar and cacao.
In traditional Chinese medicine, bananas are used to treat constipation, thirst, hemorrhoids, hypertension and alcohol intoxication. Bananas are rich sources of vitamins, minerals and phenolic compounds, and have been associated with reducing the risk of major chronic degenerative diseases. Bananas could be eaten raw as fruits. They can also be processed in various other forms, such as juice, puree, flour to store for a longer period and for other purposes. The incorporation of bananas in the recipes of many food products improve the total dietary fiber, resistant starch, total starch and some essential minerals.
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- 15 Health benefits of bananas
- Good source of minerals and vitamins
- Lower blood pressure and support heart health
- A good source of vitamin B6
- Rich in antioxidants
- Boost energy
- Help with sleep
- Improve digestion
- Strengthen bones
- Good moods
- Better eyesight
- Fight the stress
- Improve kidney function
- Prevent infections
- Reduce blood lipid level
- Relieve morning sickness
- Side effects of eating too much bananas
- Fun facts of bananas
- Nutrition facts
- Ideas to Add More Banana into Your Diet
15 Health benefits of bananas
Good source of minerals and vitamins
Banana fruit is notably enriched with minerals, including phosphorus, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc and manganese. Consumption of carotenoid-rich bananas protects against vitamin A deficiency disorder and chronic diseases, which are more visible and a growing problem throughout the world.
Lower blood pressure and support heart health
Bananas are a great source of potassium that one medium-size banana contains about 450 mg of potassium which is 13% of recommended daily value. Potassium is an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. A number of studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of high-potassium foods in lower blood pressure. Studies published by the American Heart Association suggested that eating bananas regularly can reduce the risk of having a stroke by up to 20%.
A good source of vitamin B6
Bananas have a particularly high content of vitamin B6. Just one banana provides 20% of recommended daily intake of vitamin B6. The vitamin B6 in bananas is important for brain function and brain development during pregnancy. Studies have suggested that having an enough intake of vitamin B6 help elderly populations to maintain their memory and cognitive functions. Vitamin B6 also involved in maintaining blood sugar levels, amino acids metabolism and synthesizing antibodies for a strong immune system.
Rich in antioxidants
Banana is considered as one of the most important antioxidant rich foods.The bioactive antioxidants of bananas are effective in protecting the body against various oxidative stresses. Among these, the most abundant antioxidants in bananas are phenolic, carotenoids and ascorbic acid (Vc). These antioxidants regard aging, prevent coronary heart diseases, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders related to oxidative stress caused by reactive oxygen species.
Ripe bananas are a healthy source of carbohydrate perfect for a need of energy boost. It is good to have a finger of banana for breakfast or after a workout to make up your blood glucose level without drinking sugar drinks or energy bars.
Help with sleep
The high magnesium content of banana helps you relax your muscles. Moreover, the melatonin in banana is the primary hormone for helping your fall asleep. You can eat bananas before going to sleep to make it easier to get to sleep.
Pharmacological investigations suggested that bananas are effective in the treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Bananas contain fructooligosaccharides, such as pectin which promote digestive health. Fructooligosaccharides act as prebiotic, stimulating the growth probiotics which is known carry the benefits of improving bowel motility, preventing constipation and improve digestion.
The rich potassium content of bananas also helps to reduce calcium excretion, which reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis and keeps the bones strong. Furthermore, the prebiotics in banana promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria which ultimately facilitate calcium absorption in our body. Last but not the least, the magnesium in bananas is involved in bone growth.
Bananas are a source of the amino acid tryptophan which is needed for making the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin helps to overcome or prevent depression by changing the mood and relaxing the body.
Orange and yellow colored fruits are usually rich sources of carotenoids. Bananas are not an exception. On average, bananas contain 92-636 g/100 g dry weight. The yellow and orange-fleshed banana cultivars contain the highest level of carotene, the most important precursor of vitamin A. Consumption of bananas rich in carotenoids improve eyesight.
Fight the stress
Under stress, our metabolic rate rises which causes drops in potassium levels. Banana can reverse this effect of stress. The potassium in bananas help normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulate the body’s water balance.
Improve kidney function
The high potassium content of bananas is also essential for healthy kidney function. A study shows that women ate bananas 2-3 times per week had less possibility to develop kidney disease.
Bananas have antibacterial activity due to the presence of beta-sitosterol, malic acid, hydroxystearic acid and succinic acid. Antimicrobial activity of banana has been explored by many medicine practitioners in health care systems for the treatment of bacterial infections. Bananas also show an antiseptic effect for curing ulcer problem.
Reduce blood lipid level
Bananas might be useful for the treatment of hyperlipidemia and several atherosclerosis diseases. Flavonoids extracted from unripe fruits of banana have shown hyperlipidemia activities, such as a decrease in the concentration of cholesterol, phospholipids, free fatty acids, and triglycerides in blood serum. Phytosterols present in banana also lower the cholesterol level in serum. Phytosterols consumed with food also inhibit the absorption of cholesterol from the small intestine.
Relieve morning sickness
Studies showed that a reasonable number of women found that eating bananas help to reduce nausea during pregnancy. It might be attributed to the replenish of blood sugar and encouraged production of the mucous in the stomach that protects the lining of the stomach.
Side effects of eating too much bananas
Bananas are considered as a healthy food. However, eating too much may cause some unpleasant side effects.
Bananas are an excellent source of potassium. However, ingesting too many bananas can trigger hyperkalemia, which is known to cause nausea, a slower pulse and irregular heartbeat, or even cardiac arrest. So don’t try to eat a dozen of bananas in a short span of time.
Bananas contain certain amino acid, tyramine, that is known for causing blood vessels to dilate. So if you are often troubled by migraine, you may want to avoid including bananas in your diet.
Bananas are a good source of magnesium which is known to have the ability to relax muscles. Eating too much banana can lead to drowsiness, fatigue and diarrhea. Hence, you may want to avoid eating bananas when you have a long way to go or need to stay conscious.
The high vitamin B6 content of bananas help you maintain a healthy nervous system as well as disintegrate carbohydrate and fat. However, too much vitamin B6 can be toxic and damage the nervous system and paralyze limbs. The maximum amount B6 your body can take is 100 mg while a banana contains 0.8 mg. so it will take you to eat more than 100 bananas a day to overdose on B6. So the chance of overdose is small, but please be careful if you are taking vitamin supplements while eating too many bananas.
Another big concern of eating too many bananas is tooth decay. Bananas are a full of natural sugar which is not a problem for most people. However, eating too many bananas will still lead to the problem of eating too much sugar, the tooth decay. Moreover, the acid content of bananas could be harmful to your tooth enamel.
Lack of fat and protein
Bananas contain little fat and protein which makes them ideal for some dieters and suitable for people with a balanced diet. However, if you are taking a banana-only diet, low intake of fat and protein will be detrimental to your overall health in the long run. So taking bananas as your snack, not your main dish.
For individuals who are having an allergy to latex, they will also be hypersensitive to bananas. Their allergic reactions include wheezing, runny nose, coughing, itchy throat, and watery eyes.
Fun facts of bananas
- Bananas may have been the world’s first domesticated fruit.
- Bananas are not growing on the trees. Banana plant is classified as an arborescent (tree-like) perennial herb. And the banana itself is considered as a berry.
- Bananas are also called plantains. ‘Banana’ refers to the sweet form of the fruit that often eaten uncooked. ‘Plantain’ refers to a starchier fruit that is often cooked before eating.
- A row of bananas is called a ‘hand’. A single banana is called a ‘finger’.
- The average weight of a banana is 125 g.
- Wild bananas have large and hard seeds. They are growing throughout Southeast Asia and are inedible for humans.
- Fibres from banana plants can be used to make clothes.
- Banana is more radioactive than other fruits because of its high potassium content.
For every one medium-size banana (~118 g), you will get the following macro- and micro-nutrients:
|% Daily value|
|Calories 105 kcal||5%|
|From carbohydrate 97.4 kcal|
|From fat 3.3 kcal|
|From protein 4.3 kcal|
|Total carbohydrate 27.0 g||9%|
|Starch 6.3 g|
|Protein 1.3 g||3%|
|Total Fat 0.4 g||3%|
|Saturated fat 0.1 g||1%|
|Monounsaturated fat 0.0 g|
|Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g|
|Omega-3 fatty acids 31.9 mg|
|Omega-6 fatty acids 54.3 mg|
|Cholesterol 0 mg||0%|
|Vitamin A 75.5 IU||2%|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.0 mg||2%|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.1 mg||5%|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 0.8 mg||4%|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) 0.4 mg||4%|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) 0.4 mg||22%|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate) 23.6 mcg||6%|
|Vitamin B12 0.0 mcg||0%|
|Vitamin C 10.3 mg||17%|
|Vitamin D ~ mg||~|
|Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) 0.1 mg||1%|
|Calcium 5.9 mg||1%|
|Iron 0.3 mg||2%|
|Magnesium 31.9 mg||8%|
|Phosphorus 26.0 mg||3%|
|Potassium 422 mg||12%|
|Sodium 1.2 mg||0%|
|Zinc 0.2 mg||1%|
|Copper 0.1 mg||5%|
|Selenium 1.2 mcg||2%|
The per cent daily values are based on 2000 calorie diet.
Bananas are believed to have originated 10,000 years ago. Kuk valley of New Guinea is the first known area where humans first domesticated the banana around 8000 B.C. It was speculated that the domestication projects might have happened in the Southeast Asia and the South Pacific areas around the same time. Later, bananas were introduced by traders and travelers in Australia, Indonesia, India and Malaysia, within the first two millennia, after domestication. The mass production of bananas started in 1834 and really started exploding in the late 1880’s. Once countries realized the market power of this versatile fruit, people became greedy. Today, the monoculture production methods have destroyed ecosystems and left already-poor countries dependent on this single crop export.
Nowadays, bananas are the fourth most important crop worldwide for developing countries, where they are consumed as a major starchy staple food, especially in Africa and Asia. It is also an important cash crop for people in these areas which is exported for American and European consumption. Nevertheless, the majority of bananas grown today are for local consumption of the farmers, and only 15% of the global production of bananas are exported. India is the leading producer of bananas worldwide, accounting for 23% of the total production. Whilst most of the Indian plantains are used for domestic consumption.
Areas using bananas as economic crops are mainly French the Caribbean and Central America. Ecuador, Costa Rica, Philippine, and Colombia account for 2/3 of the global exported banana. Bananas consumed in the US are from Central and South America. On the other hand, bananas consumed in the European Union are largely from the Caribbean. Bananas are packed in their ripened state for exporting. The ‘green’ bananas are more resistant to spoilage and bruising than ripened fruits. The green fruits are placed in special rooms filled with ethylene gas when they are delivered to the retail place.
Ideas to Add More Banana into Your Diet
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