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Amazing Benefits Of Bananas (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

Amazing Benefits Of Bananas (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

Tantalizing to look at and conveniently packaged, bananas are a versatile food enjoyed by people of all ages, from infants to elders. They are not only handy and delicious, bananas are also a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Let us take a look at some of the amazing benefits of bananas.

The make-up of bananas

Bananas contain a good amount of fiber, as well as antioxidants. One medium-sized banana (118 grams) also contains:

  • Potassium: 9% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin B6: 33% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin C: 11% of the RDI.
  • Magnesium: 8% of the RDI.
  • Copper: 10% of the RDI.
  • Manganese: 14% of the RDI.
  • Net carbs: 24 grams.
  • Fiber: 3.1 grams.
  • Protein: 1.3 grams.
  • Fat: 0.4 grams.

1. Bananas Help with Depression and Mood

Bananas are able to help relieve depression and improve your mood due to high levels of tryptophan. Tryptophan has a calming and relaxing effect. Combined with the benefits of B vitamins, tryptophan is converted into serotonin, the “happy brain neurotransmitter”, and this can improve your mood and help bring about an overall feeling of well-being.

2. Bananas Prevent Cancer

A 2005 Swedish study found evidence that suggests that moderate consumption of bananas may protect against kidney cancer. The high levels of antioxidant phenolic compounds found in bananas may be the reason why they are helpful in preventing kidney cancer.

3. Bananas Strengthen Your Bones

Bananas do not contain large amounts of calcium but the calcium that they do contain can still be helpful in keeping bones strong. According to a 2009 article in the Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, bananas contain a large amount of fructooligosaccharides. These are carbohydrates that promote probiotics that help with digestion and enhance the body’s ability to absorb calcium.

4. Bananas Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases

The potassium found in bananas helps to maintain normal blood pressure and heart function. A medium-sized banana contains 400-plus mg of potassium, making them a very effective source of this nutrient. According to the FDA, “Eating enough potassium each day can help lower blood pressure by balancing out some of the harmful effects that sodium can have on blood pressure.” Bananas also contain sterols that work to block the absorption of dietary cholesterol. By blocking cholesterol absorption, they can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The soluble fiber content in bananas also has cardiovascular benefits as soluble fiber in food is associated with a decrease in the risk of heart disease.

5. Bananas Treat Anemia

Bananas can help to strengthen your blood and aid in the prevention or treatment of anemia because they contain iron. If you eat bananas on a regular basis and also eat other iron-rich foods, you can gradually reduce symptoms associated with anemia. Anemia is a condition where there is a decrease in the number of red blood cells (haemoglobin) in the blood. The symptoms of anemia can be dizziness, headaches, paleness, shortness of breath and fatigue.

6. Bananas Improve Your Vision

Bananas contain a small but significant amount of Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps to protect eyes, improve vision at night and maintain normal vision. Due to their Vitamin A content bananas can also help to preserve the membranes around your eyes according to the National Institutes of Health.

7. Bananas Aid Digestion

Bananas produce digestive enzymes that help with the absorption of nutrients. They also act as a prebiotic, which stimulates the growth of good bacteria in the bowel. The high level of fiber bananas contain can help normalize bowel movements and can help elevate constipation. Bananas also help to treat diarrhea as they contain pectin, a water-soluble fiber which helps absorb fluids in the intestines. The benefits of fiber for digestion can be seen in the 2008 study by J. L. Buttriss and C. S. Stokes.

8. Bananas Help Weight Loss

Bananas are low in fat and high in fiber and vitamins making them a perfect food for a weight loss diet. Bananas help you feel full for longer as when the fiber in the banana reaches the stomach it absorbs water and takes up a lot of space, making you feel full. The natural sweetness of bananas makes for a great snack and can curb your craving for something sweet. The effect fiber has on weight loss can be seen in the 2013 study by Clark MJ and JL Slavin.

9. Bananas Are Good Natural Cures

Bananas may be helpful if you are trying to quit smoking. They contain high levels of B-vitamins as well as potassium and magnesium, which help speed up recovery from the symptoms of withdrawal. Even the banana peel has its uses. You can remove a wart by placing the inside of a piece of banana peel against the wart, making sure it is held in place.

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We have taken a look at some of the amazing benefits of bananas and seen just how many health benefits this fruit has to offer. So next time you are at the grocery store don’t forget to put a bunch of bananas in your shopping trolley.

Creamy Banana and Avocado Smoothie recipe

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    Ingredients

    Bananas (fresh or frozen)

    1/2 avocado, stone and skin removed

    1 1/2 cups almond milk (or any other milk)

    1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste

    1 tablespoon raw honey

    1 tablespoon chia seeds

    1 tablespoon bee pollen

    1 tablespoon peanut butter (optional)

    Handful of ice

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    Directions

    Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high speed for half a minute until you reach a smooth consistency.

    Baked Cinnamon Banana Chips

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      Ingredients

      4 medium ripe bananas (or 3 large)
      3 tablespoons orange juice (or juice from 1 large lemon)
      Cinnamon

      Directions

      1. Preheat oven to 200°F (warm setting). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel the bananas and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Dip each slice into the orange juice and place on the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
      2. Bake for 3 to 4 hours, or until your chips are dry and slightly brown, making sure to flip your chips halfway through.
      3. Remove from the oven, and once cool, chips can be stored in an airtight container.

      Chocolate Banana Creamsicles

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        Ingredients

        3 large over-ripened bananas

        1 cup coconut milk

        4 tbsp cocoa powder

        1 tsp vanilla extract

        A pinch of salt

        Dixie cups (fewer than 10 for this recipe)

        Popsicle sticks

        Directions

        If you have a blender, shove everything together in the blender and process until smooth.

        1. Divide among your popsicle moulds and freeze for at least 4 hours. Enjoy!

        If you don’t have a blender, do the following:

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        1. Mash the bananas with a potato masher or a fork until relatively smooth.
        2. Add the cocoa powder and salt and mix in.
        3. Add the coconut milk and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
        4. Pour into your popsicle moulds (or Dixie cups) and stick a popsicle stick in the middle.
        5. Freeze for about 4 hours and they should be ready to eat! Just use some scissors to make a snip on the cup then tear from there to release the deliciousness within.

        Quick and Easy Banana-Oat Muffins

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          Ingredients

          2 mashed ripe bananas (about 3/4 cup)

          2 tablespoons canola oil

          1 egg

          1/2 cup fat-free milk

          3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

          2/3 cup white whole-wheat flour (such as King Arthur) or whole-wheat flour

          1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

          1/4 cup sugar

          1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

          1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

          1/4 teaspoon salt

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          Cooking spray

          Directions

          1. Preheat oven to 375º.
          2. Combine bananas and next 4 ingredients (through vanilla) in a medium bowl; mix well, and set aside.
          3. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Whisk together flour and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl.
          4. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until they are just combined.
          5. Spray 9 muffin cups with cooking spray (or use paper liners), and spoon 1/3 cup batter into each cup (cups will be full).
          6. Bake 16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

          Healthy Banana Bread

          shutterstock_154013474

            Ingredients

            ⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil or high quality vegetable oil*

            ½ cup honey or maple syrup

            2 eggs

            1 cup mashed bananas (about 2½ medium or 2 large bananas)

            ¼ cup milk of choice or water

            1 teaspoon baking soda

            1 teaspoon vanilla extract

            ½ teaspoon salt

            ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to swirl on top

            1¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour

            Totally optional: ½ cup mix-ins like chopped walnuts or pecans, chocolate chips, raisins, chopped dried fruit, fresh banana slices…

            Directions

            1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
            2. In a large bowl, beat the oil and honey together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, then whisk in the mashed bananas and milk. (If your coconut oil solidifies on contact with cold ingredients, simply let the bowl rest in a warm place for a few minutes, like on top of your stove, or warm it for about 10 seconds in the microwave.)
            3. Add the baking soda, vanilla, salt and cinnamon, and whisk to blend. Lastly, switch to a big spoon and stir in the flour, just until combined. Some lumps are OK! If you’re adding any additional mix-ins, gently fold them in now.
            4. Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. If you’d like a pretty swirled effect, run the tip of a knife across the batter in a zig-zag pattern.
            5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

            Featured photo credit: life health and beauty via lifehealthandbeauty.com

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            Rebecca Beris

            Rebecca is a wellness and lifestyle writer at Lifehack.

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            Last Updated on November 11, 2019

            How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

            How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

            Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

            To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

            Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

            1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

            Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

            Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

            To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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            2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

            Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

            If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

            Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

            3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

            Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

            Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

            4. Feed Your Brain

            Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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            This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

            Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

            Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

            5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

            According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

            Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

            Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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            6. Write it Down

            If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

            It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

            You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

            7. Listen to Music

            Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

            8. Visual Concepts

            In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

            Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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            Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

            9. Teach Someone Else

            Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

            Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

            10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

            Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

            So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

            Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

            More About Boosting Memory

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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