Going Bananas for Health: The Surprising Benefits of this Superfruit
- Potassium: Potassium helps to counterbalance the effects of sodium in the body, which can help to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, so getting enough potassium through foods like bananas may help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Other nutrients: Bananas are also a good source of other nutrients that may support heart health, including vitamin C and vitamin B6. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to protect cells from oxidative stress, while vitamin B6 is involved in the metabolism of homocysteine, a compound that has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
- Fiber: Bananas are a good source of dietary fiber, with 3 grams per medium banana. Fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels and improving blood sugar control.
- Fiber: It helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied, which may reduce the risk of overeating and facilitate weight loss.
- Low-calorie content: Bananas are relatively low in calories, with about 105 calories per medium banana. By choosing foods that are low in calories, you can help to prevent weight gain and potentially facilitate weight loss.
- Balanced nutrients: Bananas contain a range of nutrients, including carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats, which can help to provide sustained energy and keep you feeling satisfied. This can help to reduce cravings for unhealthy snacks and support weight management.
Aid in digestion
- Fiber: It helps to add bulk to the stools, which can help to prevent constipation and make bowel movements easier.
- Prebiotics: Bananas contain a type of fiber called prebiotics, which are non-digestible carbohydrates that nourish the beneficial bacteria in the gut. These bacteria, known as the gut microbiome, play a key role in maintaining a healthy digestive system.
- Gentle on the digestive system: Bananas are generally considered to be easy to digest and are often recommended as a “safe” food for people with digestive problems. They are also low in fat and contain no cholesterol or sodium, which may make them easier on the digestive system than some other foods.
- Bananas are not actually a tree – they are an herb! Specifically, they are the largest herb in the world, with a stem that grows up to 25 feet tall. They’re in the same family as lilies, orchids, and palms.
- Bananas are native to Southeast Asia, but today they are grown in tropical regions all over the world.
- Bananas come in many different varieties, including sweet bananas, plantains, and red bananas, which are slightly smaller and sweeter than common yellow bananas.
Storage and food safety
- Bananas are best stored at room temperature until they are ripe. Once ripe, they can be stored in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process.
- To speed up the ripening process, bananas can be placed in a paper bag with an apple or a tomato, which will release ethylene gas and help the bananas to ripen more quickly.
- To prevent the risk of foodborne illness, be sure to handle bananas (and all other foods) safely, including washing your hands before handling and properly storing leftovers.
How to prepare bananas
- One of the easiest ways to enjoy bananas is to eat them as a snack, either whole or sliced.
- Bananas can also be added to a variety of dishes to boost their nutrition and flavor. For example, you can mash bananas and mix them into oatmeal or yogurt, or use them as a base for smoothies.
- Bananas are also a popular ingredient in baked goods, such as banana bread or muffins. To make your own banana bread, mash ripe bananas and mix them with other ingredients like flour, sugar, eggs, and baking powder.