Banana one of the most widely consumed food around the world.
The popularity is due to its low calorie snaking option, and high nutrients.
With soluble fiber, resistant starch and other nutrients provide varied benefits to the consumers.
1. Banana is Rich Source of Nutrients
1 medium-size banana (118g) contains: (% is Daily Value DV) (1)
- Total carbohydrate – 27g (9% DV)
- Fiber – 3.1g (12%)
- Fat – 0.4g (1%)
- Protein – 1.3g (3%)
- Vitamin C – 10.3mg (17%)
- Vitamin B6 – 0.4 (22%)
- Folate – 23.6 mcg (6%)
- Pantothenic Acid – 0.4mg (4%)
- Riboflavin – 0.1 mg (5%)
- Niacin – 0.8mg (4%)
- Potassium – 422mg (12%)
- Manganese – 0.3mg (16%)
- Magnesium – 31.9mg (8%)
It also contains a small amount of selenium, copper, iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin E, and thiamine.
2. Banana Supports Heart Health
Banana contains fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and B6 – all required to support heart health.
One of the most important nutrients required for the functioning of the heart is potassium. Potassium is an important nutrient required to control blood pressure and cut the risk of heart disease or stroke.
Instead of importance and recommendation, people aren’t receiving enough potassium from their diet.
Banana is a great source of potassium, a medium size banana (118 grams) can provide 9% of Recommended Daily Intake(RDI).
With high potassium and low sodium, it proves a great food for the cardiovascular system. (2)
High potassium intake is associated with lower risk of stroke by 27%. (3)
High potassium intake can possibly be used for prevention and treatment, to who is not able to control sodium intake. (4)
In a study at the University of Alabama found that high potassium intake can prevent hardening of arteries, while low potassium in mice has found to have harder arteries. (5)
Research has found that 4069 mg of potassium reduce the risk of death due to ischemic heart disease by 49 percent compared to who have less than 1000 mg. (6)
While the magnesium content is important for heart health. (7)
That’s all about benefits due to potassium and magnesium content.
Banana also contains fiber which supports a healthy heart.
The fiber can lower the LDL “bad” cholesterol level, while the antioxidants protect from the oxidation of LDL cholesterol thus preventing plaque buildup. (8)
While the antioxidants prevent damage and stiffness of arteries. (9)
Wrap up: With high potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, B6, and fiber – banana proves best for heart and lower the risk of heart disease.
3. It Is Good For Weight Loss
A medium-size banana contains nearly 3 grams of fiber which is 10 percent of the required intake. With fiber, it contains 100 calories yet is nutritious and filling.
There are no studies done on the banana for its effect on weight loss, but their nutritional value can supports weight loss. The combination of pectin and resistant starch have appetite suppressing effect and increase the feeling of fullness.
The fiber and its appetite-reducing effects can explain its benefits for weight management.
They are sweet treat yet filling making them the best food to curb craving with low calorie and high fiber intake.
If you have a plan to add banana then prefer to choose the banana which is light green. Unripe banana is high in starch, a dietary fiber which functions like soluble fiber and is filling.
When you feel full after eating a low-calorie snack you will stay away from calorie loaded and low satiety snack, a reason for weight gain and weight loss failure.
Greener the banana, higher will be its starch content. Yet, you can’t eat complete unripe banana but choose which are little unripe that can be eaten.
A ripe banana contains high soluble fiber (pectin) which are also filling and curbs craving.
Dietary fiber from fruits and vegetables are always linked to lower weight, so you can consider banana as a healthy food for weight loss.
Generally, it is recommended to eat at least two to five serving of fruit, you can consider adding 2 medium-size banana.
Wrap up: With high pectin and resistant starch, they reduce appetite and curbs craving.
4. It Improves Digestion
Dietary fiber is recommended for a better digestive health.
A medium-size banana provides 3 grams of fiber which is 10 percent of the recommended intake.
Banana contains two types of fiber: pectin and resistant starch. The quantity of these fibers in the banana will depend on the ripeness.
Unripe banana contains more resistant starch while a ripe banana contains more soluble fiber.
The soluble fiber acts as a laxative and supports healthy regularity as they keep things moving. They can be used to prevent or treat constipation. (10)
While soluble fiber and resistant starch can support gut bacteria health. (11)
They can restore normal bowel function, especially when you have diarrhea. The potassium content can help to balance electrolyte lost due to runny stool.
Wrap up: With high fiber and potassium it supports a healthy digestion and can restore normal bowel function.
5. It Helps To Build Strong Bones
Greater intake of fruits and vegetables are associated with many health benefits along with better bone health.
Intake of fruits and vegetables in Middle-Aged and Elderly Adults have found greater bone mineral density and lower osteoporosis risk. (12)
A better health and nutrient intake are always confused with overeating or excess intake. You don’t need to eat a huge amount of nutrients to get the benefits, just you need to have a better digestion and absorption ability.
With better digestion and absorption, the body is able to absorb maximum nutrients which are usually lost.
For a better bone health or greater bone mineral density you won’t need lots of calcium from your diet, you need a better way to absorb the calcium from food and prevent loss of calcium from bone.
Potassium: Potassium guards the bone health by neutralizing the acids produced during the body’s metabolic processes. Without enough potassium, body counteracts the acid in blood by releasing calcium from bone which can degrade bone health.
Fructooligosaccharides (fos): Fructooligosaccharides are non-digestible carbohydrate (also considered as soluble dietary fiber) acts as prebiotics. According to an article in the Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, fructooligosaccharides can improve gut bacteria health and enhance the body’s ability to absorb minerals (calcium).
Wrap up: With a healthy level of potassium and fructooligosaccharides banana proves to be a healthier food for bone health.
6. It Protects From Cancer
Eating fruits and vegetables is found to lower the risk of cancer.
Like other fruits, banana also contains antioxidants, phenolic, flavonoids content which are responsible for cancer protective property. While the content of antioxidant and phenolic, and flavonoids are distributed in both but dense in the peel and less in the pulp. (13)
In study catechin, gallocatechin, and epicatechin, as well as condensed tannins were found banana pulp that provides banana its antioxidant property. (14)
It also contains antioxidants dopamine which had greater antioxidant potency than glutathione. (15)
A study suggests that a higher intake of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of kidney cancer. During the study, the banana was also found effective to provide protection from kidney cancer compared to vegetable salad consumption. (16)
A medium-size banana also contains 11 percent vitamin C, which is also a strong antioxidant.
Wrap up: With high antioxidants like dopamine, catechin, gallocatechin, and epicatechin, tannins, and Vitamin C there is no doubt on its antioxidant value and protection from cancer.
7. Moderate Blood Sugar & Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Considering banana as the best food for managing diabetes, it may be or it not be.
Sugar spike is one of the reasons for Type 2 Diabetes and can be a concern for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
It’s often said to limit fruits to prevent complication due to sugar spikes, but you can include banana in your diet. The problem of sugar can be managed with moderate consumption.
If you eat the banana in moderate you will get benefits like moderate blood sugar and improved insulin sensitivity.
Moderate Blood Sugar:
The glycemic index of banana:
- Unripe banana – 30
- Ripe banana – 60
With less glycemic index there won’t be major blood sugar spike. If you have cancer with blood sugar spike then choose little unripe over fully ripe banana.
Improve Insulin Sensitivity:
Insulin sensitivity is the most important concern among Type 2 Diabetes.
A study for 4 weeks found that dietary supplementation of resistant starch can lower the insulin sensitivity by 40 percent. (19)
The resistant starch in an unripe banana can be potential to improve insulin sensitivity.
People with Type 2 Diabetes do have insulin sensitivity and consumption of unripe banana proves beneficial.
Wrap up: The resistant starch and pectin can be potential to balance blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.
8. It Can Support Healthy Pregnancy & Child
Banana is too helpful to prevent gestational diabetes in women during pregnancy. Lack of sleep can contribute to gestational diabetes.
Although after delivery the blood sugar becomes normal though it can have a negative effect on the child. (20)
- Baby can have high birth weight
- Increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and obesity later
- Even the women have a higher risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Banana contains vitamin B6, magnesium and tryptophan that promote quality sleep. With better sleep the risk of gestational diabetes lowers, thus supporting a healthy baby.
Wrap up: A magnesium and tryptophan content of banana promotes healthy sleep which lowers the risk gestational diabetes and supports a healthier baby.
9. Fight Depression and Improves Mood
Banana is a great food to fight depression and responsible for boost mood with a good amount of Tryptophan, Vitamin B6 and Magnesium.
Tryptophan: Body converts tryptophan to serotonin, a mood-elevating brain neurotransmitter. While banana is known for its sleep-inducing property due to the tryptophan content.
Vitamin B6 – A better sleep can cleanup depression and boost mood. Vitamin B6 can help to sleep well.
Magnesium – Magnesium relaxes body and brain which improve sleep quality.
Wrap up: With Tryptophan, vitamin B6, and magnesium boost sleep, improve mood, and fight depression.
10. May Protect From Asthma
Children consuming fruits are found to have a lower risk of asthma in children. (21)
The studies found that consumption of apple and banana was common in children, a reason for the lower rate of wheezing and asthma.
Wrap up: Consumption of banana may be potential to protect from asthma.
11. It Can Best Workout Fuel
Want a better food to recover depleted energy, then banana should your fitness companion.
Banana is a better alternative for your energy drink as they contain calorie, antioxidants, and other nutrients that boost recovery.
A study on athletes found that drinking Gatorade drink vs banana and water had the same performance. But the athletes with banana and water had high antioxidants capacity which helps to fight the oxidative stress. (22)
While the other nutrients like Tryptophan, vitamin B6, and magnesium can help to improve sleep and recover faster. Faster the recovery better will the progress.
Wrap up: With rich in nutrients and a good amount of calories, banana is a potential food to snack before, during and after exercise. It can also be used for any sports event.