Bananas are extremely healthy and delicious. They contain several essential nutrients and provide benefits for digestion, heart health and weight loss. Aside from being very nutritious, they are also a highly convenient snack food. Here are the science-based health benefits of bananas.
Health Benefits Of Bananas
1. Bananas are one of the best fruit sources of vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 from bananas is easily absorbed by your body and a medium-sized banana can provide about a quarter of your daily vitamin B6 needs.
Vitamin B6 helps your body:
- produce red blood cells,
- metabolise carbohydrates and fats, turning them into energy,
- metabolise amino acids,
- remove unwanted chemicals from your liver and kidneys, and
- maintain a healthy nervous system.
Vitamin B6 is also good for pregnant women as it helps meet their baby’s development needs.
2. Bananas are respectable sources of vitamin C
You may not associate bananas with vitamin C but a medium-sized banana will provide about 10% of your daily vitamin C needs.
Vitamin C helps:
- protect your body against cell and tissue damage,
- your body absorb iron better,
- your body produce collagen – the protein which holds your skin, bones and body together, and
- support brain health by producing serotonin, a hormone that affects our sleep cycle, moods, and experiences of stress and pain.
3. Bananas Contain Nutrients That Moderate Blood Sugar Levels
Bananas are rich in pectin, a type of fiber that gives the flesh its spongy structural form.
Unripe bananas contain resistant starch, which acts like soluble fiber and escapes digestion.
Both pectin and resistant starch may moderate blood sugar levels after meals and reduce appetite by slowing the emptying of your stomach.
Furthermore, bananas also rank low to medium on the glycemic index (GI), which is a measure — from 0–100 — of how quickly foods increase blood sugar levels.
The GI value of unripe bananas is about 30, while ripe bananas rank at about 60. The average value of all bananas is 51.
This means that bananas should not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels in healthy individuals.
However, this may not apply to people with type 2 diabetes, who should probably avoid eating a lot of well-ripened bananas — and monitor their blood sugar carefully if they do.
4. May Aid Weight Loss
No study has directly tested the effects of bananas on weight loss. However, bananas do have several attributes that should make them a weight-loss-friendly-food.
For starters, bananas have relatively few calories. An average banana has just over 100 calories — yet it is also very nutritious and filling.
Eating more fiber from vegetables and fruits like bananas has repeatedly been linked to lower body weight and weight loss.
Furthermore, unripe bananas are packed with resistant starch, so they tend to be very filling and may reduce your appetite.
5. Heart health
One of the health benefits of bananas is protecting heart health. Bananas contain fiber, potassium, folate, and antioxidants, such as vitamin C. All of these support heart health.
A 2017 review found that people who follow a high fiber diet have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those on a low fiber diet. Those who consumed more fiber also had lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.
6. Digestive health
Bananas contain water and fiber, both of which promote regularity and encourage digestive health. One medium banana provides approximately 10% of a person’s fiber needs for a day.
Bananas are also part of an approach known as the BRAT diet, which some doctors recommend for treating diarrhea. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.
Diarrhea can lead to a loss of water and electrolytes, such as potassium. Bananas can replace these nutrients.
High fiber foods can trigger bloating, gas, and stomach cramps in people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to a 2012 study. However, bananas may improve symptoms, the authors concluded.
7. Help to build lean muscle
If after a workout, you’ve felt like your muscles are sore—or not growing fast enough—you might not be getting enough magnesium in your diet. A good source of magnesium, bananas can help with muscle contraction and relaxation as well as protein synthesis — which, in turn, increases lean muscle mass. A bonus: magnesium intake helps boost lipolysis, a process by which your body releases fat from its stores. One fun way to get your magnesium: Make banana tea. Just boil some water, cut off both ends of a banana (still in its peel) and boil for 7-10 minutes. Then drain and drink before bed.