Banana is the most commonly used fruit in the world and as per the global food consumption data 90% of world population eat bananas.
Ecuador population is the largest consumers of this fruit in the world with an average 101.5 kg per capita consumption per year while in the US it is about 10.8kg consumption per capita.
There is hardly anyone who does not love the sweet taste of this fruit. The popularity of this fruit is also due to its cost affordability, the convenience to carry around and the easiness to eat it.
Banana is a highly versatile fruit that can very well be blended into smoothies or used as flavor adding agent in a variety of baked foods’ recipes.
In this article, we are going to have a brief discussion on 11 important health benefits of bananas besides discussing the nutritional value of this fruit.
How Many Calories In A Banana?
The fear of sugar and calories in the banana make many people apprehensive of eating this fruit.
Over 90% calories in banana come from the carbs present in it. As a banana gets ripened the starch in this fruit turns into sugar.
The sugar and calories in banana also vary according to the particular variety of this fruit.
By the way, there are over a thousand verities of banana found all over the world but only about 20 good varieties are grown commercially.
Again, the banana also varies in size and color too. The ripe banana contains 89 calories per 100 grams.
A medium sized banana (7″ to 7-7/8″ long/118 grams) contains 105 calories.
The sugar present in a medium sized ripened banana is 14 grams; little more than a tablespoon of normal white sugar.
How many carbs in a banana?
Banana is rich in carbohydrates and this account for the most of the calories from this fruit. A medium sized banana has 27 grams of carbs in it. That is about 23g of carbohydrate per 100 grams of banana.
Banana Nutrition – What Matters Most For Health
This yellow fruit is fairly nutritious and contains high amounts of fiber and antioxidants
The major nutrients in this fruit include Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, fiber, potassium and several other plant components.
As per the USDA’s National Nutrient Database, bananas per serving (126 gm) contain the following major nutrients beneficial for health.
Health Benefits Of Bananas
The benefits of banana for health come from the good nutrients and useful plant components present in this fruit.
The maximum benefit from this fruits is received by the heart and digestive system of our body.
The great sources of banana benefits for health come from potassium, dietary fiber, manganese and vitamins B6 and C present in this sweet and delicious fruit.
In the forthcoming paragraphs below, I want to share with you the major health advantages and benefits of bananas.
1. Bananas Improve Cardiovascular Health
The banana contains only a negligible amount of saturated fat and cholesterol which makes it a good fruit for the heart.
The antioxidants present in this yellow fruit help in reducing the harmful effects of the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
2. Bananas Lower Blood Pressure
One of the common reasons for high blood pressure in most people is the presence of high sodium content in the blood.
The banana, which is naturally rich in potassium, (3 medium size banana=1500mg potassium) is able to maintain healthy levels blood pressure by neutralizing the sodium effects in blood.
For a normal blood pressure rate, it is important to maintain the right level of the potassium-to-sodium ratio in the blood. Of course, banana is the best natural food source for supplying required potassium to the body.
3. Bananas Can Supply Magnesium Mineral
For the good health of the body, an adult person requires about 300 t0 430mg daily intake of magnesium. Consuming three bananas a day can provide our body a good portion of the magnesium of daily requirement.
“Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation.” [10,11,12]
Some say bananas are NOT good for weight loss because of the carbs and sugar present in this fruit.
There are ‘NO’ proven studies till now on the relation between weight loss and ripe banana.
According to one study, the unripe banana starch consumption is good for weight loss. Some of the participants on this diet were able to lose up to 2.6 lbs in 4 week period.
5. Promotes The Growth Healthy Body Cells
The regeneration and growth of body cells require Vitamin B6. This vitamin is crucial to the body because of it assists in the production of insulin, nonessential amino acids, and hemoglobin necessary for the development of body cells.[18,19,20]
Banana contains about 5mg of Vitamin B6 per 100 grams.
6. Bananas are Rich In Resistant Starch And Fiber
Every banana can provide your body about 3 grams of fiber.
The fiber required for proper digestion and healthy metabolism that is necessary for a healthy body.
The health benefits of resistant starch are great for the body. Some of the major health benefits from it are like suppression of appetite, improves colon health, lowers insulin resistance and helps in balancing blood sugar level.[24,25,26]
7. Bananas Improve Digestion
The resistant starch and pectin fiber present in this fruit improves the digestive process and also makes us feel full and satiated. These compounds also have prebiotic nutrients that feed the helpful bacteria in the digestive system.
The fibrous nutrients in the banana are fermented by the friendly bacteria in the colon that leads to the generation of butyrate.
This fruit is an easily digestible food and non-irritating for the human gastrointestinal tract.
8. Bananas Are Rich In Vitamin C
A full serving of bananas can provide your body with 15% of the daily requirement of Vitamin C.
The health benefits of Vitamin C includes protecting the body from immune deficiencies, preventing prenatal health problems, better health of the eyes and skin and helps in preventing cardiovascular disease.[31,32,33]
9. Bananas Helps In Fighting Anemia
The reason for anemia disease is the low hemoglobin count in the blood caused by the deficiency of iron mineral in the body.
A good amount of iron mineral present in banana is beneficial for the production of hemoglobin in the blood.
Every 100 grams of banana you eat contains about 3 mg iron.
The anemia disease also gets weakened because of the Vitamin B6 from the banana that begins to regulate the glucose levels in the blood.
10. Boosts The Performance Of Athletes
The most favorite fruit of all athletes is the bananas.
This fruit is easy to carry around and eat whenever and wherever you want to.
Most importantly, it strengthens and energizes the muscles and provides the beneficial antioxidants and nutrients good for enhancing performance in sports.
One of the studies conducted at the Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab came out with a valuable finding. The study members, who were professional cyclists, were given half a banana after every 15 minutes of cycling. The results showed their energy levels were similar or even higher with those who drank a carbohydrate matched sports drink in every 15 minutes.[39,40]
There is no wonder why tennis players and athletes keep eating bananas quite often.
11. Relieves Anxiety And Lifts The Mood
The magnesium mineral present in banana is good for relieving anxiety and lifting the mood besides helping you to sleep well.
Eating 3 or 4 bananas a day can provide your body with a good portion of daily magnesium requirement.
Is Banana Safe For Diabetes Patients?
Most of the diabetes patients are hesitant to eat bananas because of the sugar and carbohydrate present in this fruit.
For the diabetes patients, it is safe to eat 2 or 3 medium sized bananas per day.
It is important to make sure that sugar and starch intake from other food sources in the diet are minimal and do not exceed the permissible level.
Diabetes patients should daily monitor the blood sugar level and never eat a banana if sugar level has already exceeded the healthy benchmark level.
Side Effects Of Bananas On Health
Banana is the most commonly eaten fruit. It is very friendly to the digestive system of the body.
This fruit is even recommended as the first safe, solid food that could be fed to the babies.
In very rare cases some people who are allergenic to latex may also be allergic to some varieties of bananas.
As per one of the study results, about 40% people who have latex allergy could be sensitive to plant foods too.
People who are on rigid ‘low carbs and low sugar diets’ should avoid bananas as this fruits contain a good bit of sugar and starch.
Overall, banana is a very safe and healthy fruit for all.