Here are all the things you probably did not know about bananas even if they are your favorite fruit!
Bananas, like most fruit on the planet, are extremely nutritious and healthy. But compared to other fruits, they are one of the most popular fruit in the U.S. Americans consume an average of 27 pounds of bananas per person every single year. And it’s not surprising at all, since they are delicious, providing numerous health benefits.
Besides, they are also a convenient snack. It’s easier to throw a banana in your bag and eat it later than take a bowl of strawberries with you, which you’ll have to wash properly before consumption. People of all ages say that bananas are their favorite healthy snack, mainly because they don’t require an entire washing process as most fruits do.
However, aside from being highly convenient, they also offer a plethora of health benefits. So, let’s find out exactly what you’re getting from your favorite fruit!
They pack an incredible amount of important nutrients
We all know that bananas are extremely nutritious, but not all of us are aware of what they can offer. When we think about their health benefits, the first thing that pops into our heads is usually potassium, although bananas are not the richest source of this essential nutrient. In fact, avocados and sweet potatoes contain more potassium than bananas. Shocking, right?
Apart from giving your approximately 9 percent of the recommended daily intake for potassium, one medium-sized banana can also offer almost 33 percent of the recommended daily intake for vitamin B6, 14 percent of the RDI for manganese, 11 percent of the RDI for vitamin C, 10 percent of the RDI for copper, 8 percent of the RDI for magnesium and more than 3 grams of fiber.
Plus, the exact same banana packs only 0.4 grams of fat and approximately 105 calories. However, you won’t get that much protein from one medium-sized banana (only 1.3 grams).
Amazing for blood sugar management
The nutrient found in them responsible for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is called pectin. Pectin is basically a type of fiber. However, if you want to make sure your blood sugar levels are in check, opt for an unripe one, as they contain resistant starch.
Both of them (pectin and resistant starch) can moderate your blood sugar levels. Plus, bananas score great on the glycemic index, too. For instance, one medium-sized unripe banana ranks low on the GI, with a score of 30. This means that your blood sugar levels won’t increase that much after consuming unripe bananas.
P.S.: People with type 2 diabetes should always opt for unripe bananas as they rank lower on the glycemic index than ripe bananas.
They can boost digestive health
Numerous studies suggest that dietary fiber can improve digestion in most people. Since one medium-sized banana contains approximately 3 grams of fiber, this healthy snack is a good source of fiber. We’ve already mentioned the two types of fiber in the fruit (pectin and resistant starch), and they are the main “culprits” of an improved digestive system.
But how do they work? Well, resistant starch (the type of fiber found in unripe bananas) escapes digestion, ending up directly in your large intestine, where your gut treats itself with beneficial bacteria from the foods you eat. In addition, some studies even say that pectin could lower your chances of developing colon cancer.
Great support for the weight loss process
You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in nutrition to know that bananas are weight-loss-friendly snacks. Since they have few calories (100 calories or so), bananas can be safely consumed by those who are trying to lose weight. Plus, many studies suggest that consuming more good sources of fiber like bananas can lead to controlled weight loss.
Most vegetables are excellent sources of fiber, too. But if you really want to shed those extra pounds, choose unripe bananas next time you’re grocery shopping. Because unripe bananas pack resistant starch, they will most likely reduce your appetite.
They boost heart health
Aging is not just a number, at least not when it comes to health. With age comes several health problems, including heart-related ones. Heart disease is actually the leading cause of death in our country. Taking good care of your heart implies many changes, including dietary ones.
Potassium, a mineral found in quite a few fruits and veggies, is essential for your heart, especially when it comes to blood pressure. Yet, most Americans (of all ages) don’t get enough of this important mineral. Are you one of them?
Following a potassium-rich diet has been linked to several health benefits, including lowered blood pressure. In fact, those who get enough potassium daily could have up to a 27 percent lower risk of developing heart disease. Make room for bananas and other potassium-rich foods in your diet! Your heart will thank you for that!
They are full of powerful antioxidants
Since most fruits are excellent sources of antioxidants, our star one today is no exception! Bananas contain several types of powerful antioxidants, catechins, and dopamine included. These two antioxidants, in particular, are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. They may protect against degenerative illnesses, too.
Unfortunately, a common misconception regarding dopamine from bananas surrounds us. Some people think that the dopamine found in bananas acts as a “feel-good” chemical in the brain. Well, that’s definitely not the case. The dopamine found in bananas acts as a powerful antioxidant, not as a mood changer.
Check out how you can boost your health through your diet by adopting as much as you can from the Mediterranean diet!
Eating one can make you feel full for longer
Found in unripe bananas, resistant starch (a type of indigestible carb) acts like the soluble fiber in the body. The greener the banana, the high it scores when it comes to resistant starch content. However, it doesn’t go the same for ripe bananas. Ripe bananas contain lower amounts of this type of indigestible carb.
And yes, both unripe and ripe bananas can make you feel more full, but unripe ones do a better job. If you want to minimize your meals in size, eat one unripe banana after your meal. You will most likely increase the feeling of fullness while reducing appetite.
The unripe ones can improve insulin sensitivity
A major risk factor for many health issues (type 2 diabetes included) is insulin resistance. Luckily, certain foods such as unripe bananas can improve insulin sensitivity. According to several studies, about 20 grams of resistance starch consumed daily could improve insulin sensitivity by even 45 percent in a couple of weeks.
Since unripe bananas are excellent sources of resistant starch, try to consume them more often, especially when you’re struggling to improve your insulin sensitivity.
Important info! Avoid trans fats as much as possible when you want to keep your insulin blood levels in check.
They can boost kidney health
Who would have thought that bananas could boost kidney health? I haven’t, and yet, they do, due to their potassium content. Potassium is also essential for healthy kidney function. Therefore, bananas could be your next kidney-friendly snack, and we even have studies that back that up.
A 13-year study concluded that people who tend to eat bananas at least two times a week could be 33 percent less likely to develop kidney disease. Another study pointed out that people who eat this healthy fruit more than four times a week could be 50 percent less likely to develop kidney disease than those who tend to avoid bananas.
Great before and after physical exercise
It comes as no surprise that bananas are athletes’ fruits since they contain a great amount of mineral content, being abundant in easily digested carbs. Studies even say that consuming bananas can minimize exercise-related soreness and muscle cramps.
After an intense physical workout, your body gets dehydrated, and is lacking enough electrolytes; that’s how muscle cramps appear. Researchers theorize that bananas’ minerals and nutrients help with the electrolyte imbalance, preventing muscle cramps and soreness.
Even though you’re not a fan of intense physical exercise, bananas are a great snack option before and after, let’s say, running.
They are super-easy to incorporate into your diet
Unlike other fruits, bananas are definitely the most convenient healthy snack on the planet. And it’s not because we say so, but most people worldwide agree with us. They are super easy to add to your diet, as they’re the perfect addition to your morning Greek yogurt, afternoon smoothie, or overnight oatmeal.
You can even use this yellow fruit instead of sugar and flour! (Take banana pancakes, for example.) Healthy, delicious, and convenient. Some people even use banana peel for composting or for shoe polishing. No matter how you choose to consume bananas, eat no more than two per day.
Wondering why? Because there is such thing as too much of a good thing. Eating too many could lead to nutrient deficiencies, as most people tend to not make enough room for other foods that contain the minerals and vitamins bananas are lacking, like vitamin D, protein, fat, calcium, and iron.
If you are curious about other types of foods that are good for you (or maybe they are dangerous?), make sure to check our selection of articles here!