Bananas are one of the most widely consumed fruits in the world for good reason. Eating them could help lower blood pressure and reduce the risks of cancer and asthma.
Today, bananas are grown in at least 107 countries and are ranked fourth among the world's food crops in monetary value. Americans consume more bananas than apples and oranges combined.
With the world consuming so many bananas, it's not surprising that people are asking the question: are bananas good for you?
This article will take a look at the potential health benefits of bananas, such as improving heart health and promoting regularity. It also examines the possible health risks associated with them.
Fast facts about bananas
- Bananas are rich in potassium and fiber.
- They may help prevent asthma, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and digestive problems.
- Ripen bananas at room temperature and add them to cereal for a tasty breakfast.
- People who use beta blockers should not suddenly increase their intake of bananas.
Listed below are the possible health benefits associated with bananas. It is important to note that more high quality studies are required before these health benefit links are proved definitive.
Bananas are rich in a mineral called potassium. This mineral is important as it helps 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 contract and nerve cells to respond. It keeps the heart beating regularly and can reduce the effect of sodium on blood pressure.
Potassium may reduce the risk of kidney stones forming as people age. In turn, healthy kidneys make sure that the right amount of potassium is kept in the body.
One medium-sized banana contains
One serving of banana is considered to be about
Bananas provide a variety of vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin B6 - 0.5 mg
- Manganese - 0.3 mg
- Vitamin C - 9 mg
- Potassium - 450 mg
- Dietary Fiber - 3g
- Protein - 1 g
- Magnesium - 34 mg
- Folate - 25.0 mcg
- Riboflavin - 0.1 mg
- Niacin - 0.8 mg
- Vitamin A - 81 IU
- Iron - 0.3 mg
The recommended intake of potassium for adults is 4,700 milligrams per day.
Fresh bananas are available year-round. Unlike other fruits, the ripening process of bananas does not slow down after they are picked. Bananas should be stored at room temperature.
The warmer the temperature, the faster bananas will ripen. However, to slow ripening, bananas should be refrigerated. The outer peel of the banana will darken but the banana itself will stay intact longer.
To encourage faster ripening, place the banana in a brown paper bag at room temperature.1
In 2008, a popular diet fad known as the Morning Banana Diet recommended eating a banana in the morning along with water, eating a normal lunch and having dinner before 8pm.
Add a sliced banana to your morning cereal or oatmeal for a more nutritious breakfast.
Like apple sauce, ripe mashed bananas can be used in baked goods to replace oil or butter. Mashed bananas lend a moist, naturally sweet flavor to muffins, cookies and cakes.
Peel and freeze bananas for a great addition to any smoothie.
Add sliced banana to your morning cereal or oatmeal, or take a banana with you on your way to work or school for a healthy, portable snack.
Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. High potassium foods such as bananas should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.
Consuming too much potassium can be harmful for those whose kidneys are not fully functional. If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal.
Dr. Peter S. Gelfand, who practices Internal Medicine in Long Beach NY, says:
"Certain medications used for heart disease and hypertension have the potential to increase potassium levels. Examples include certain beta-blockers such as Labetalol, medications that work by blocking the actions of the hormone aldosterone such as Lisinopril and Losartan, and certain diuretics like Spironolactone and Eplerenone. This is a partial list only, and you should consult with your doctor if potassium levels become a concern."
Some people may have an allergy to bananas. If anyone with a banana allergy eats a banana, they may experience symptoms in the mouth and throat such as itching, hives, swelling and wheezing.
Bananas also contain a lot of fiber. Eating too much fiber can lead to bloating, gas, and stomach cramps.