Bananas are possibly one of the most popular fruits on the market. In fact, over 100 billion bananas are produced every year! With that many bananas in circulation, it’s no wonder that there are many health benefits associated with this popular fruit.
Bananas pack a healthy punch with 10% of an adult’s recommended daily calorie intake along with nearly 30% of their daily vitamin C requirement.
There are also many other benefits to eating bananas; some of which are overblown or not really proven.
Table of Contents
- Health Benefits of Eating Bananas
Health Benefits of Eating Bananas
Bananas are a nutritional powerhouse that is packed with fiber, and potassium and is naturally fat-free and cholesterol-free.
1. Packed with nutrients
Bananas contain vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and pectin. Studies have shown that people who eat more bananas have less risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes vision loss in older adults, according to the National Eye Institute.
While you may be familiar with some of these benefits, there are many more that might surprise you.
Bananas are a great source of energy-boosting carbohydrates. In addition to supplying the body with energy during exercise, this amazing fruit can also help prevent muscle cramps after exercise by replenishing salt that is lost during physical activity.
Bananas contain vitamin B6 which is essential for normal brain function, red blood cell production as well as converting food into energy in the body. A single banana also provides over half of your daily requirement of vitamin B6, which helps maintain healthy nerve tissue and aids in regulating moods so it’s great for times when you feel anxious or stressed out!
Bananas are also high in manganese which helps protect against free radicals that cause cell damage and helps support bone growth and development by strengthening bone density and reducing bone loss caused by osteoporosis.
Bananas are also a great source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps you feel calm and relaxed. Tryptophan is what makes you feel sleepy after a big Thanksgiving meal. Tryptophan may also improve sleep patterns for those who suffer from insomnia or depression.
2. Great for your teeth
Since bananas contain pectin, they can help fight cavities by reducing plaque buildup on your teeth, according to the American Dental Association.
Bananas also contain salicylate and phenolic compounds that help prevent tooth decay. The vitamin B6 they contain may also help in preventing gum disease and healing wounds in the mouth.
If you’re suffering from dry mouth or oral irritation, try eating a banana. Just make sure not to eat one if it’s unripe as it could cause heartburn.
3. May improve blood sugar levels
Bananas contain an enzyme called amylase, which helps break down carbohydrates in the body and keep blood sugar levels stable.
In a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers found that eating a banana before a meal helped overweight and obese men lower their blood sugar levels by roughly 16 percent after eating.
The researchers also found that this effect was greatest in people with higher fasting blood sugar levels known as pre-diabetes.
For example, those with a fasting blood sugar level of 100 milligrams per decilitre lowered their post-meal level by 20 percent after eating two bananas before lunchtime compared to those who didn’t consume any bananas beforehand.
The researchers note that the mechanism by which bananas lower blood sugar is still unclear but could involve the fruit’s ability to slow down digestion or its high fiber content.
4. Keeps you hydrated
Because they are full of potassium, eating bananas might help your cells maintain a proper balance of electrolytes, like sodium and chloride.
Electrolytes help you stay hydrated by regulating your body’s water balance. If you lose too much water through sweat or urine, your body will pull more from inside your cells to make up for it. That will cause the electrolytes inside the cell to become unbalanced. This is called hyponatremia which means low salt in the blood.
If this happens, especially during exercise, your brain may swell with excess fluid and can cause serious side effects like nausea and fainting
A study found that participants who ate one-half of a banana every day for four days and then drank water were more hydrated than the ones that didn’t. The researchers found that consuming bananas increased the participants’ urine output by 50 percent compared to not eating bananas at all.
5. May help with weight loss
Pectin found in bananas helps you feel full longer, so you’ll stay satisfied until your next meal. Pectin also reduces the amount of fat your body absorbs from other foods.
The fiber in bananas also fills you up. This prevents overeating later on.
Bananas also have a high glycemic index, which means they digest quickly in your body causing an increase in blood glucose levels. This can be beneficial if you are trying to lose weight.
6. May support heart health
In addition to being beneficial for weight loss, bananas can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
The American Heart Association reports that heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. Cardiovascular disease accounts for more than 1 million deaths each year.
Bananas are an excellent source of many nutrients that promote good heart health. They are high in soluble fiber which has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels by binding bile acids which prevents them from being reabsorbed back into the body.
A study found that people who consumed more than 240 milligrams of magnesium by eating magnesium rich food such as bananas, had significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein, which is an inflammatory marker linked to heart disease.
7. Improves insulin sensitivity
They’re sweet, easy to eat, and loaded with nutrients. But did you know that bananas can also help improve your insulin sensitivity?
Insulin sensitivity is when your body effectively uses insulin to lower blood sugar levels after eating. In other words, if you have good insulin sensitivity, then your body is able to take in sugar from foods you eat and use it for energy. People with type 2 diabetes tend to have poor insulin sensitivity, which means they can’t use insulin efficiently or effectively.
Bananas are rich in a type of fiber called resistant starch. This starch helps improve insulin sensitivity. Resistant starch also improves gut health by increasing the production of short-chain fatty acids.
In one study, researchers fed 22 healthy adults two different test meals separated by five days of consuming their usual diets. One meal contained 14 grams of resistant starch while the other meal had no resistant starch.
Compared to those who ate no resistant starch at all, those who ate 14 grams showed increased insulin sensitivity, meaning their bodies were better able to use blood glucose for energy rather than storing excess fat in their bellies.
8. Rich in antioxidants
Bananas contain several types of potent antioxidants, including flavonoids and amines.
Flavonoids are a group of plant chemicals that help protect cells from damage. In bananas, these include catechins, proanthocyanidins, and epicatechins.
Amines are nitrogen-based compounds that provide additional antioxidant protection by reducing free radical damage before it occurs.
9. May improve kidney health
Bananas are also an effective treatment for kidney disease. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that banana peel extract contains several active ingredients that can protect against inflammation and cell failure in the kidneys.
The researchers looked at the effects of banana peel extract on rats with acute kidney injury, a condition that causes damage to the kidneys. They found that those treated with the extract had less damage to their kidneys compared with those who didn’t receive it.
The researchers noted that certain types of nutrients in bananas might also help protect against oxidative stress, which is one of the leading causes of acute kidney injury.
10. Bananas may hold risk if you eat them too often
There are several possible reasons why bananas could be associated with health risks. This includes their high sugar content which can contribute to diabetes and their high potassium levels which can be dangerous for some people.
Bananas also contain high levels of oxalate. According to the National Institutes of Health, consuming too much foods high in oxalate can increase your risk for kidney stones.
Oxalates are organic compounds found in plants and animals. They’re used by the body for normal function, but if consumed in very large amounts, they can lead to health problems.
Keeping your banana intake down to one banana per day will most likely not put you at any risk at all.
The bottom line is that bananas are great for your health, and we encourage you to make them a part of your diet.
Whether it’s a ripe, milky-brown banana handpicked from a jungle tree or one that’s been shipped all the way over here to America, they’re delicious and nutritious—and they’re also easy on your wallet.
They’re healthy and they treat you right. It’s kind of like bananas and humans were made for each other!