Bananas have often been billed “the perfect food,” but why exactly is that? Is it because they come perfectly packaged, or that you can easily grab one for a snack on the go? Well, those are 2-reasons perhaps, but the health benefits are what we’ll focus on here.
Bananas are not only delicious, but they contain a lot of what your body needs – with no preparation necessary. So let’s take a look at 12 reasons you should go bananas over this amazing fruit…
Bananas are rich in potassium. But who cares, if you don’t know what potassium does? According to WebMD, it’s a mineral that is important for heart health, mainly by lowering blood pressure by ridding your body of sodium (salts) when you urinate.
The source adds that potassium can help “relax” the walls of blood vessels, which will also naturally lower blood pressure. With this benefit comes a lower risk of stroke, it adds, and the source says potassium can also lead to healthier bones into your later years, as well as better functioning muscles. (For more potassium rich foods, check out Everyday Foods With More Potassium Than a Banana).
Source of Vitamin C
Usually when people think about fruits that pack vitamin C, they think about citrus fruits like oranges. But they don’t have an exclusive corner on the market when it comes to this important antioxidant – turns out bananas contain it too.
“As with many fruits, bananas contain a good amount of vitamin C,” explains LiveStrong. In fact, these long, curvy fruits contain about 10-mg of vitamin C, which is approximately 15-percent of what you need every day. Getting more C can help boost immunity, as well as help your body absorb other essential nutrients such as iron, it adds.
According to Health.com, if you have a good gut feeling about bananas, then you might be onto something. The source notes that bananas are a healthy source of prebiotics, which although are indigestible, “play a vital role in maintaining a healthy gut.”
The source says that prebiotics actually become a food source for probiotics, which you’ve probably heard about as the “good” bacteria swimming around your digestive tract. So when you feed yourself bananas, you’re also feeding your little buddies that keep your gut health in check, helping them grow in the process.
Full of Fiber
You’re probably sick of hearing doctors and dieticians talk about the importance of dietary fiber, but they talk about it for good reason. “In general, foods that are high in fiber make you feel full without extra calories. That also makes them a good choice if you want to shed a few pounds,” it notes.
Fiber can also add bulk to stool, helping you stay more regular. WebMD says a regular sized banana contains about 3-grams of fiber, which is about 10-percent of your daily requirement. “That boost can help keep your bowels working at their best,” it adds.
Mood and Energy Booster
According to Dr. Axe, bananas contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is related to the regulation of serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked with mood. “Healthy levels of serotonin work to lift your mood and prevent mood disorders including anxiety and depression,” it notes.
It adds the antioxidants in bananas facilitate the release of dopamine, another feel-good chemical in the brain. Bananas can also help erase low energy, which is often linked with low moods. In short, bananas can be as beneficial for your mental health as your physical health. (Here are some more Foods Proven to Boost Energy).
Brain and Body Benefits
Speaking of body and mind, Dr. Axe says the manganese content of bananas can benefit your skin, bones, and even your brain. Manganese is vital to many functions in your body, including proper brain function, notes the source.
In fact, the source says that studies have shown this element can help prevent conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. Meanwhile, other (animal) studies have shown low levels of manganese can lead to poor bone health and even osteoporosis, it adds. (Here are some more Brain Powering Superfoods).
Good Training Partner
If you’re working out or training for a marathon, then perhaps you should give bananas a second look. Healthline says bananas have been called “the perfect food for athletes,” as they are loaded with minerals and easy-to-digest carbohydrates.
Not only that, bananas may also reduce the soreness and cramps associated with exercise, adds the source. While there are some disputes to that claim, there’s no dispute that bananas are helpful source of nutrition “before, during and after” any activity that requires endurance, it adds.
Livestrong says that B vitamins aren’t too often found in plant-based products, and are more common in animal products. However, it says bananas are apparently a good source of vitamin B-6 in particular, which is also known as pyridoxine.
It adds that just one banana supplies your body with 35-percent of the daily B-6 requirement. Your body uses this B vitamin to grow new cells, it adds.
Livescience.com says reaching for a banana can be beneficial to help you fight off common infections. What’s perhaps more interesting is that the more ripe the banana, the more it can help in this area, it adds. (Here are more Foods That Strengthen Your Immune System).
“Bananas with dark spots were eight times more effective in enhancing the power of white blood cells than green-skin bananas,” says the source, citing a study published in Food Science and Technology Research. Having more white blood cells helps your body resist bacteria, fungi, viruses and other bad things that can make you sick, it says.