August 27 is National Banana Lovers Day, means it’s time to celebrate all the health benefits of your favorite yellow fruit.
Bananas are pre-packaged by Nature, wonderfully sweet with firm and creamy flesh gift wrapped inside by a thick inedible yellow peel.The banana tree grows 10 to 26 feet in height, belongs to the Musaceae family and are available for harvest throughout the year. Banana grows in cluster from 50 to 150 bananas individually in bunches, known as “HANDS” of 10 to 25 bananas.
Bananas have been around for centuries. Archaeologists have found proof of banana cultivation in New Guinea as far back as 8000 BC and bananas also appeared in Egyptian hieroglyphics. The world’s first banana farms were located in Southeast Asia, then spread to India and across to Africa, from where Portuguese sailors introduced them to Europe and Americas in the 16th century. Today India is the biggest producer of banana, however consumes most of it.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, there are almost 1,000 varieties of bananas, of which several hundred are edible that fall under two distinct species, the sweet banana and the plantain banana.
In the United States, the most familiar varieties of sweet bananas are Big Michael, Martinique and Cavendish.
Plantain bananas are considered as a vegetable due to their starchier qualities and usually used to cook.
Bananas are among the world’s most healthy and delicious fruits. They contain several essential nutrients. The nutrition facts for 1 medium-sized banana are:
Bananas are stocked with potassium. Normal banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium.
Potassium is a mineral, which is important to maintain fluid levels in the body and regulates the movement of nutrients and waste products in and out of cells. Potassium also helps muscles to bind and nerve cells to respond. Potassium maintains normal blood pressure and heart function. The more potassium you consume, the more sodium can exit from your body.
Potassium may reduce the risk of kidney stones developing in people by age. In short, healthy kidneys make sure that the right amount of potassium is kept in the body.
It is better to try to get potassium from dietary sources such as bananas, otherwise potassium supplements are available in market.
Bananas are one of the most thoroughly consumed fruits in world for good reasons. On average each of us gets through around 10kg, which is approximately 100 bananas every year.
Bananas produces in almost 107 countries and are ranked fourth among the world’s food crops. Americans consume more bananas than apples and oranges comparatively. With the world consuming so many bananas, people asking that bananas are good for us?
Listed below are the possible health benefits of bananas. It is important to note that more high quality researches are required before these health benefits are proved definitive.
A study has shown that children who ate just one banana per day had a 34% less chance of developing asthma.
Consuming bananas in the first two years of life may reduce the risk of developing childhood leukemia. As a good source of vitamin C, bananas can combat against the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. High fiber intakes from vegetables and fruits like banana can lower the risk of colorectal cancer.
Bananas are rich in pectin, a type of fiber which moderates blood sugar levels after meals and reduces appetite by slowing the emptying of stomach.
Type 1 diabetics who consume high fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics can improve blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels.
Bananas are ranked low to medium on the Glycaemic Index, which measures how quickly foods increase blood sugar levels. The average value of banana on GI is 51. This means that bananas do not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels in healthy people.
- Cardiovascular Health
The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6 content in bananas all support cardiovascular health. An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium intake is the most important change in diet that a person can make to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
A first type of cardiovascular benefit from bananas is potassium content. Bananas are a big source of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart health. According to a study, those who consume 4069mg of potassium per day have a 49% lower risk of death from heart disease.
A second type of cardiovascular benefit from bananas is related to their sterol content. Bananas are a very low fat food, containing a small amount of sterol fat.
A third type of cardiovascular benefit from bananainvolves its fiber content. Bananas are good source of fiber intake. Normal banana has approximately 3 grams of fiber.
Bananas are extremely interesting fruit in terms of their carbohydrate and sugar content. Normal size banana contains about 3 grams of fiber. Fiber is a nutrient that regulates the speed of digestion. Bland foods such as apple sauce and bananas are recommended for the treatment of diarrhea.
- Boosts Metabolism
Bananas are a good source of Resistant Starch, a starch found in carbohydrate-rich foods that may help us to get slim. Our body digests Resistant Starch slowly, making it a natural appetite suppressant because we feel fuller longer. RS also encourages our liver to switch to fat burning mod.
- Good for Gut Bacteria
Probiotics the good bacteria that promote the digestion are found in certain foods like yogurt. Well, there is also such a thing as prebiotics, and bananas are great source of them. Prebiotics supply food for probiotics, so the good gut bacteria grow well.
Athletic Performance and Bananas
The excellent mix of vitamin, minerals and carbohydrates in bananas has made them a favourite fruit of athletes. Their easy portability, low cost and great taste also support their popularity in this exclusive group. Bananas keep the energy level steady. Bananas have long been used by athletes for prevention of muscle cramps. Bananas are stock with potassium, and low potassium level is the major cause of muscle cramps.
Consumption of one or two bananas before an hour of exercise keeps blood potassium level higher after the training.
Banana in Diet
- Add a sliced banana to your morning cereal or oatmeal diet for a more nutritious breakfast.
- Fad diet recommends eating a banana in the morning along with water as the Morning Banana Diet.
- Like apple sauce, ripe mashed bananas can be used in baked goods to replace oil or butter, and add naturally sweet flavour.
- Peel and freeze bananas for a great addition to smoothies and shakes.
- You can carry a banana with you on your way to work or school for a healthy portable snack.
- A sweet sandwich with peanut butter, honey and banana is an all-time favourite food for children.
Beta-blockers, a medication used for heart disease, can increase potassium level in blood. So high potassium foods like banana should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.
If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be dangerous because too much potassium is harmful for kidneys.
Some people may have an allergy to bananas like itching, swelling and hives in mouth and throat. Bananas can trigger migraines and headache in some people. Bananas contain fiber. Eating too much fiber can cause bloating, gas and stomach cramps.