Bananas are one of the most popular fruits on the planet, and are considered healthy by almost everyone. But just how healthy are they? How does eating a banana directly help benefit you?
Below, we have listed seven benefits of consuming bananas.
1. The Peel Has A Surprising Number Of Benefits
While we are not recommending that you start eating banana peel, it is interesting to note just how beneficial the peel of a banana can be. The peel contains “carotenoids, phenolic compounds, and biogenic amines” which is a fancy way of saying that the peel contains antioxidants that may help treat Parkinson’s disease and macular degeneration (loss of eye sight) .
In the future, compounds could be made from banana skin that would be used to treat these diseases. Right now though it is still best to throw them away!
2. Bananas Provide 31% Of Your Daily Vitamin B6 Allowance
Vitamin B6 is not particularly hard to get a hold of, it can be found in meat, eggs, vegetables, cereals, and supplements. However, there are times when people require more Vitamin B6 than usual. For instance, women often require more B6 while menstruating, or when suffering from morning sickness . There are many other reasons to increase B6, too numerous to mention.
Luckily, bananas are an excellent source of Vitamin B6, containing as much as 31% of your recommended daily allowance in a single banana. There are no real benefits to increasing B6 if you are already consuming enough, but if you are deficient then there are hundreds of potential benefits.
3. Bananas Are High In Dietary Fiber
A regularly sized banana can contain over 3g of fiber, which is about 20% of your RDA. There are many benefits to eating high-fiber foods, they can help lower cholesterol, reduce your risk of colon cancer, and they can normalize blood sugar – which is really useful for diabetics.
High fiber foods are also perfect for diets, this is because they take longer to be digested and help you to feel fuller for longer. The less hungry you are, the less you eat (or at least that is how it should work). Meaning less snacks between meals, smaller portions, and less calories overall.
4. Bananas Are A Good Source Of Potassium
If you ask anyone what the biggest benefit of eating bananas is, they’ll probably mention that bananas are high in potassium. Surprisingly, they are not anywhere near as high in potassium as some other foods. A baked potato has roughly double the amount of potassium as a banana. But bananas are still good sources of potassium.
One of the main benefits of eating foods high in potassium is the effect they have on blood pressure. Studies have found that low potassium intake can lead to high blood pressure .
Because of this, getting the right amount of potassium in your diet can help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. So, a banana a day may be more effective than apples at keeping the doctor away!
5. Eating Bananas May Prevent Childhood Asthma
This benefit is a little different to the others, at the moment it is based on a 2007 study on children in South London. The study found that those children who ate bananas regularly were less likely to develop asthma. The researchers were unsure about what the mechanism behind this was, but they had a theory:
“One explanation for this link might be their antioxidant content. Bananas have a higher content of water-soluble phenolic acids than other fruits, including apples, and could plausibly reduce asthma inflammation” .
6. Bananas May Reduce The Risk Of Cancer
A study on Swedish women found that of all the fruits, bananas had the strongest inverse association with renal cell carcinoma (i.e. lowest risk of cancer) . Obviously, eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables was deemed most effective, but it’s interesting to see that bananas were so effective compared to other fruits.
7. Bananas Can Help You Fall Asleep
Bananas are often thought of as a morning snack, or something you would have at lunch. But there is a lot of evidence that they may be one of the best pre-bed snacks going. Not only do they contain potassium, which can help improve sleep quality, but they also contain magnesium which is even more effective.
Bananas are also a source of the amino acid tryptophan, which is found in other foods and drinks associated with sleep (milk, cottage cheese etc.).
Studies have found that bananas increase melatonin. A 2012 study in the Journal of Pineal Research looked at the effect of pineapple, oranges, and bananas on serum melatonin levels . Melatonin production is essential for good quality sleep.
As you can see, bananas have a number of health benefits. They are high in fiber, high in potassium, Vitamin B6, and magnesium. They can help regulate blood sugar, improve sleep quality, and may even help prevent more serious conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and maybe even cancer.
As with all foods, you don’t need to go overboard to enjoy the benefits. One or two bananas per day is sufficient. They are a great pre-workout snack, as well as a post-workout snack, and pre-bedtime snack!