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.
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
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
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high speed for half a minute until you reach a smooth consistency.
Baked Cinnamon Banana Chips
4 medium ripe bananas (or 3 large)
3 tablespoons orange juice (or juice from 1 large lemon)
- 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.
- Bake for 3 to 4 hours, or until your chips are dry and slightly brown, making sure to flip your chips halfway through.
- Remove from the oven, and once cool, chips can be stored in an airtight container.
Chocolate Banana Creamsicles
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)
If you have a blender, shove everything together in the blender and process until smooth.
- Divide among your popsicle moulds and freeze for at least 4 hours. Enjoy!
If you don’t have a blender, do the following:
- Mash the bananas with a potato masher or a fork until relatively smooth.
- Add the cocoa powder and salt and mix in.
- Add the coconut milk and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
- Pour into your popsicle moulds (or Dixie cups) and stick a popsicle stick in the middle.
- 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
2 mashed ripe bananas (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons canola oil
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
- Preheat oven to 375º.
- Combine bananas and next 4 ingredients (through vanilla) in a medium bowl; mix well, and set aside.
- 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.
- Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until they are just combined.
- Spray 9 muffin cups with cooking spray (or use paper liners), and spoon 1/3 cup batter into each cup (cups will be full).
- Bake 16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Healthy Banana Bread
⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil or high quality vegetable oil*
½ cup honey or maple syrup
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…
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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