Bananas sometimes get a bad rap for having lots of calories and carbs, but they’re actually one of the best foods you can choose — both for health and weight management. Eating one a day provides your body with a lot of powerful nutrients, so go ahead and buy a bunch. Keep reading for more about why you should chow down this tropical tree-fruit:
- Nutrition Stats
- Health Benefits of Bananas
- How many can I eat and what should I eat them with?
- But aren’t bananas high in sugar?
- Are they too high calorie if I’m on a diet?
- Are they good to eat before exercising?
- Fad alert: Is it safe to eat the peel?
- Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline
- Need help getting enough iron?
- How to improve iron absorption from food
- Health Benefits
- How to Select and Store
- How to Enjoy
- Individual Concerns
- Nutritional Profile
- Introduction to Food Rating System Chart
- In-Depth Nutritional Profile
- From green to black
- Nutrition facts
- Health benefits
- Health risks
- Banana peels: edible or poisonous?
- Other banana facts
- Top 10 Fruits Highest in Calcium
- Do Bananas Have Calcium?
- Calcium in bananas
- Bananas and calcium absorption
- What a Banana Gives You
Health Benefits of Bananas
All those vitamins and nutrients can do major good for your body and mind. You’re snacking toward these benefits every time you eat one:
- Lower blood pressure: The potassium and magnesium in bananas can help decrease this almighty number.
- A healthier heart: The blood pressure-lowering effects in turn reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Stronger bones: Potassium has been found to protect against osteoporosis, and magnesium plays a part in bone formation.
- Better digestion: Bananas provide about 12% of your daily fiber needs, promoting regularity.
- A sharper mind: The vitamin B6 in bananas may help prevent cognitive decline and reduce mood-related symptoms of PMS.
Now that you’ve got the basics, these are the questions (and answers) nutritionists get about bananas all the time:
How many can I eat and what should I eat them with?
About one per day can help you meet your needs for produce and pack some serious health benefits. We love them paired with a source of lean protein and healthy fat; try five fun recipes that we love:
- Bananas and nuts or nut butter
- A sliced banana and low-fat Greek yogurt
- Banana breakfast parfaits and smoothies
- Frozen banana pops dipped in chocolate
- Banana-based ice cream
But aren’t bananas high in sugar?
While your average banana contains about 14 grams of naturally occurring sugar, it also provides plenty of other vitamins, minerals, and important nutrients. Plus, the fiber content helps slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, preventing the blood sugar spikes (and subsequent crashes!) felt from more concentrated sugar sources, like juice or soda.
Are they too high calorie if I’m on a diet?
It’s true that eating ANY food in excess of your own personal calorie needs can lead to weight gain, but bananas are an unlikely culprit. At 100 calories and less than half a gram of fat in each one, bananas are a nutritious choice that helps you meet your needs for daily veggies and fruit.
Are they good to eat before exercising?
Bananas provide an easily digestible source of carbohydrates, the preferential fuel during exercise. They’re light on your stomach, which won’t weigh you down during your workouts. Alternatively, pair a banana with a protein source like peanut butter to refuel your glycogen stores post-workout. As a bonus, bananas can replace the potassium lost in sweat during prolonged exercise.
Fad alert: Is it safe to eat the peel?
While there are claims out there that banana peels can cure insomnia and depression and lower cholesterol, there is little (if any) scientific research to back them up. All the studies on the benefits of banana peels haven’t involved humans just yet, so we don’t actually know what effects they would have! That said, it’s unlikely that eating a banana peel would hurt you – but it won’t exactly taste very good either.
Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute Director, Nutrition Lab A registered dietitian with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, Jaclyn “Jackie” London handles all of Good Housekeeping’s nutrition-related content, testing, and evaluation.
Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline
The best source of iron is animal-based foods, especially red meat and offal (such as liver). Chicken, duck, pork, turkey, eggs and fish also have iron.
Iron is also found in many plant-based foods such as:
- green vegetables, for example spinach, silverbeet and broccoli
- lentils and beans
- nuts and seeds
- grains, for example whole wheat, brown rice and fortified breakfast cereals
- dried fruit
The iron in animal-based foods is easier to absorb than the iron in plant-based foods. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you need to take extra care with your diet to get enough iron.
Need help getting enough iron?
Check out this infographichref> to ensure you get an adequate iron intake with a balanced diet.
Learn how much iron you need each day, which foods are the best sources of iron and how to incorporate them in your diet.
How to improve iron absorption from food
How you prepare food and what types of foods you eat together, can affect how much iron you absorb.
For example, foods rich in vitamin C such as oranges, tomatoes, berries, kiwi fruit and capsicum, can help you absorb more iron if you eat them at the same time as iron-rich foods. You could add them raw to your plate, or drink orange juice with your meal, or take a vitamin C supplement.
Coffee, tea and wine can reduce iron absorption. So can calcium-rich foods like milk, cheese and tinned salmon, as well as calcium tablets. If you can, have these between meals, rather than with your meal.
Wonderfully sweet with firm and creamy flesh, bananas come prepackaged in their own yellow jackets and are available for harvest throughout the year.
The banana plant grows 10 to 26 feet and belongs to the Musaceae family of plants along with plantains.
The cluster of fruits contain anywhere from 50 to 150 bananas with individual fruits grouped in bunches, known as “hands,” containing 10 to 25 bananas.
Banana, fresh AF
(130.00 grams) Calories: 105
This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Bananas provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Bananas can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Bananas, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.
- Health Benefits
- How to Select and Store
- How to Enjoy
- Individual Concerns
- Nutritional Profile
Creamy, rich, and sweet, bananas are a favorite food for everyone from infants to elders. They could not be more convenient to enjoy, and they are a good source of both vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber.
Cardiovascular Health and Bananas
A first type of cardiovascular benefit from bananas is related to their potassium content. Bananas are a good source of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Since one medium-sized banana contains a whopping 400-plus mg of potassium, the inclusion of bananas in your routine meal plan may help to prevent high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis.
The effectiveness of potassium-rich foods such as bananas in lowering blood pressure has been demonstrated by a number of studies. For example, researchers tracked over 40,000 American male health professionals over four years to determine the effects of diet on blood pressure. Men who ate diets higher in potassium-rich foods, as well as foods high in magnesium and cereal fiber, had a substantially reduced risk of stroke. We’ve also seen numerous prospective clinical research trials showing substantial reductions of blood pressure in individuals eating the potassium-rich DASH Diet.
A second type of cardiovascular benefit from bananas involves their sterol content. While bananas are a very low-fat food (less than 4% of their calories come from fat), one type of fat that they do contain in small amounts are sterols like sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol. As these sterols look structurally similar to cholesterol, they can block the absorption of dietary cholesterol. By blocking absorption, they help us keep our blood cholesterol levels in check.
A third type of cardiovascular benefit from bananas involves their fiber content. At about 3 grams per medium banana, we rank bananas as a good source of fiber. Approximately one-third of the fiber in bananas is water-soluble fiber. For one medium-sized banana, this amount translates into 1 gram of soluble fiber per banana. Soluble fiber in food is a type of fiber especially associated with decreased risk of heart disease, making regular intake of bananas a potentially helpful approach to lowering your heart disease risk.
Bananas’ Digestive Benefits
Bananas are a fascinating fruit in terms of their carbohydrate and sugar content. Even though bananas are a fruit that tastes quite sweet when ripe—containing 14-15 grams of total sugar—bananas receive a rating of low in their glycemic index (GI) value. GI measures the impact of a food on our blood sugar. This low GI value for bananas is most likely related to two of their carbohydrate-related qualities.
First, as mentioned previously, a medium-size banana contains about 3 grams of total fiber. Fiber is a nutrient that helps regulate the speed of digestion, and by keeping digestion well-regulated, conversion of carbohydrates to simple sugars and release of simple sugars from digesting foods also stays well-regulated.
Within their total fiber content, bananas also contain pectins. Pectins are unique and complicated types of fiber. Some of the components in pectins are water-soluble, and others are not. As bananas ripen, their water-soluble pectins increase, and this increase is one of the key reasons why bananas become softer in texture as they ripen. As their water-soluble pectins increase, so does their relative concentration of fructose in comparison to other sugars. This increase in water-soluble pectins and higher proportional fructose content helps normalize the rate of carbohydrate digestion and moderates the impact of banana consumption on our blood sugar. The bottom line here are some surprisingly digestion-friendly consequences for a fruit that might be casually dismissed as being too high in sugar to be digestion-friendly.
Similar to the importance of their water-soluble pectins is the digestive importance of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) in bananas. FOS are unique fructose-containing carbohydrates that are typically not broken down by enzymes in our digestive tract. Instead, they move along through the digestive tract until they reach our lower intestine and get metabolized by bacteria. This process helps maintain the balance of “friendly” bacteria (for example, Bifidobacteria) in our lower intestine, and as a consequence, it also supports our overall digestive health.
In one study involving female participants, eating two bananas each day for two months led to significant increases in Bifidobacteria. Along with these increased levels of Bifidobacteria, participants also experienced fewer gastrointestinal problems and more regular bowel function when compared to other women in the study who drank a banana-flavored beverage that did not contain any actual banana.
Athletic Performance and Bananas
The unique mix of vitamins, minerals, and low glycemic carbohydrates in bananas has made them a favorite fruit among endurance athletes. Their easy portability, low expense, and great taste also help support their popularity in this exclusive group.
A 2012 study of distance cyclists found that eating the equivalent of about one half a banana every 15 minutes of a three-hour race was just as good at keeping energy levels steady as drinking an equivalent amount of carbohydrate and minerals from a processed sports beverage. Bananas have long been valued by athletes for prevention of muscle cramps. Since bananas are a good source of potassium, and since low potassium levels are known to contribute to risk of muscle cramps, it is logical to think about the potassium content of bananas as being the reason for fewer muscle cramps after consumption of bananas. There is actually some recent research in support of this reasoning. In a recent study, consumption of one or two bananas prior to an hour of exercise was shown to keep blood potassium levels higher after the training. But there are still some big unanswered questions here, since researchers are not convinced that low potassium levels are the most frequent cause of muscle cramps with training.
Bananas are elliptically shaped fruits “prepackaged” by Nature, featuring a firm, creamy flesh gift-wrapped inside a thick inedible peel. The banana plant grows 10 to 26 feet in height and belongs to the family Musaceae. Banana fruits grow in clusters of 50 to 150, with individual fruits grouped in bunches, known as “hands,” of 10 to 25 bananas.
Bananas abound in hundreds of edible varieties that fall under two distinct species: the sweet banana (Musa sapienta, Musa nana) and the plantain banana (Musa paradisiacal). Sweet bananas vary in size and color.
While we are accustomed to thinking of sweet bananas as having yellow skins, they can also feature red, pink, purple and black tones when ripe. Their flavor and texture range with some varieties being sweet while others have starchier characteristics. In the United States, the most familiar varieties are Big Michael, Martinique and Cavendish. Plantain bananas are usually cooked and considered more like a vegetable due to their starchier qualities; they have a higher beta-carotene concentration than most sweet bananas.
Bananas are thought to have originated in Malaysia around 4,000 years ago. From there, they spread throughout the Philippines and India, where in 327 B.C. Alexander the Great’s army recorded them being grown.
Bananas were introduced to Africa by Arabian traders and discovered there in 1482 A.D. by Portuguese explorers who took them to the Americas, the place where the majority of bananas are now produced.
Bananas were not brought to the United States for sale in markets until the latter part of the 19th century and were initially only enjoyed by people in the seacoast towns where the banana schooners docked; because of the fruit’s fragility, they were unable to be transported far.
Since the development of refrigeration and rapid transport in the 20th century, bananas have become widely available. Today, bananas grow in most tropical and subtropical regions with the main commercial producers including Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador and Brazil.
How to Select and Store
Since bananas are picked off the tree while they’re still green, it’s not unusual to see them this color in the store. Base your choice of bananas depending upon when you want to consume them. Bananas with more green coloration will take longer to ripen than those more yellow in hue and/or with brown spots.
Bananas should be firm, but not too hard, bright in appearance, and free from bruises or other injuries. Their stems and tips should be intact. The size of the banana does not affect its quality, so simply choose the size that best meets your needs.
At WHFoods, we encourage the purchase of certified organically grown foods, and bananas is no exception. Repeated research studies on organic foods as a group show that your likelihood of exposure to contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals can be greatly reduced through the purchased of certified organic foods, including bananas. If you are shopping in a large supermarket, your most reliable source of organically grown bananas is very likely to be bananas that display the USDA organic logo.
While bananas look resilient, they’re actually very fragile and care should be taken in their storage. They should be left to ripen at room temperature and should not be subjected to overly hot or cold temperatures. Unripe bananas should not be placed in the refrigerator as this will interrupt the ripening process to such an extent that it will not be able to resume even if the bananas are returned to room temperature.
If you need to hasten the ripening process, you can place bananas in a paper bag or wrap them in newspaper, adding an apple to accelerate the process. Ripe bananas that will not be consumed for a few days can be placed in the refrigerator. While their peel may darken, the flesh will not be affected. For maximum flavor when consuming refrigerated bananas, remove them from the refrigerator and allow them to come back to room temperature. For the most antioxidants, eat fully ripened fruit.
Bananas can also be frozen and will keep for about 2 months. Either puree them before freezing or simply remove the peel and wrap the bananas in plastic wrap. To prevent discoloration, add some lemon juice before freezing.
How to Enjoy
In addition to being eaten raw, bananas are a wonderful addition to a variety of recipes from salads to baked goods.
A few quick serving ideas:
- A peanut butter and banana sandwich drizzled with honey is an all-time favorite comfort food for children and adults alike.
- Add chopped bananas, walnuts and maple syrup to oatmeal or porridge.
- Try our Tropical Breakfast Risotto in the Recipe File.
If you’d like even more recipes and ways to prepare bananas the Nutrient-Rich Way, you may want to explore The World’s Healthiest Foods book.
Bananas and Latex-Fruit Syndrome
Latex-fruit syndrom is a health problem related to the possible reaction of our immune system to certain proteins found in natural rubber (from the tree Hevea brasiliensis) and highly similar proteins found in certain foods, such as bananas. For helpful information about this topic, please see our article, An Overview of Adverse Food Reactions.
Bananas are a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of manganese, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, potassium, biotin, and copper.
Introduction to Food Rating System Chart
In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn’t contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food’s in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients – not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good – please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you’ll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food’s nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling.” Read more background information and details of our rating system.
| Banana, fresh AF
130.00 grams Calories: 105
|vitamin B6||0.43 mg||25||4.3||very good|
|vitamin C||10.27 mg||14||2.3||good|
In-Depth Nutritional Profile
In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, here is an in-depth nutritional profile for Bananas. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.
| Banana, fresh AF
(Note: “–” indicates data unavailable)
|BASIC MACRONUTRIENTS AND CALORIES|
|Fat – total||0.39 g||1|
|Dietary Fiber||3.07 g||11|
|MACRONUTRIENT AND CALORIE DETAIL|
|Total Sugars||— g|
|Soluble Fiber||— g|
|Insoluble Fiber||— g|
|Other Carbohydrates||9.45 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0.04 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||0.09 g|
|Saturated Fat||0.13 g|
|Trans Fat||0.00 g|
|Calories from Fat||3.50|
|Calories from Saturated Fat||1.19|
|Calories from Trans Fat||0.00|
|Vitamin B1||0.04 mg||3|
|Vitamin B2||0.09 mg||7|
|Vitamin B3||0.78 mg||5|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin Equivalents)||0.96 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.43 mg||25|
|Vitamin B12||0.00 mcg||0|
|Folate (DFE)||23.60 mcg|
|Folate (food)||23.60 mcg|
|Pantothenic Acid||0.39 mg||8|
|Vitamin C||10.27 mg||14|
|Vitamin A (Retinoids and Carotenoids)|
|Vitamin A International Units (IU)||75.52 IU|
|Vitamin A mcg Retinol Activity Equivalents (RAE)||3.78 mcg (RAE)||0|
|Vitamin A mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE)||7.55 mcg (RE)|
|Retinol mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE)||0.00 mcg (RE)|
|Carotenoid mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE)||7.55 mcg (RE)|
|Beta-Carotene Equivalents||45.43 mcg|
|Lutein and Zeaxanthin||25.96 mcg|
|Vitamin D International Units (IU)||0.00 IU||0|
|Vitamin D mcg||0.00 mcg|
|Vitamin E mg Alpha-Tocopherol Equivalents (ATE)||0.12 mg (ATE)||1|
|Vitamin E International Units (IU)||0.18 IU|
|Vitamin E mg||0.12 mg|
|Vitamin K||0.59 mcg||1|
|INDIVIDUAL FATTY ACIDS|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids||0.03 g||1|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids||0.05 g|
|14:1 Myristoleic||0.00 g|
|15:1 Pentadecenoic||0.00 g|
|16:1 Palmitol||0.01 g|
|17:1 Heptadecenoic||0.00 g|
|18:1 Oleic||0.03 g|
|20:1 Eicosenoic||0.00 g|
|22:1 Erucic||0.00 g|
|24:1 Nervonic||0.00 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids|
|18:2 Linoleic||0.05 g|
|18:2 Conjugated Linoleic (CLA)||— g|
|18:3 Linolenic||0.03 g|
|18:4 Stearidonic||0.00 g|
|20:3 Eicosatrienoic||0.00 g|
|20:4 Arachidonic||0.00 g|
|20:5 Eicosapentaenoic (EPA)||0.00 g|
|22:5 Docosapentaenoic (DPA)||0.00 g|
|22:6 Docosahexaenoic (DHA)||0.00 g|
|Saturated Fatty Acids|
|4:0 Butyric||0.00 g|
|6:0 Caproic||0.00 g|
|8:0 Caprylic||0.00 g|
|10:0 Capric||0.00 g|
|12:0 Lauric||0.00 g|
|14:0 Myristic||0.00 g|
|15:0 Pentadecanoic||0.00 g|
|16:0 Palmitic||0.12 g|
|17:0 Margaric||0.00 g|
|18:0 Stearic||0.01 g|
|20:0 Arachidic||0.00 g|
|22:0 Behenate||0.00 g|
|24:0 Lignoceric||0.00 g|
|INDIVIDUAL AMINO ACIDS|
|Aspartic Acid||0.15 g|
|Glutamic Acid||0.18 g|
|Organic Acids (Total)||0.75 g|
|Acetic Acid||0.01 g|
|Citric Acid||0.32 g|
|Lactic Acid||0.00 g|
|Malic Acid||0.42 g|
|Sugar Alcohols (Total)||0.01 g|
|Artificial Sweeteners (Total)||— mg|
The nutrient profiles provided in this website are derived from The Food Processor, Version 10.12.0, ESHA Research, Salem, Oregon, USA. Among the 50,000+ food items in the master database and 163 nutritional components per item, specific nutrient values were frequently missing from any particular food item. We chose the designation “–” to represent those nutrients for which no value was included in this version of the database.
- Duan X, Cheng G, Yang E, et al. Modification of pectin polysaccharides during ripening of postharvest banana fruit. Food Chemistry, Volume 111, Issue 1, 1 November 2008, Pages 144-149.
- Gylling H, Plat J, Turley S, et al. Plant sterols and plant stanols in the management of dyslipidaemia and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Atherosclerosis 2014;232:346-60.
- Miller KC. Plasma potassium concentration and content changes after banana ingestion in exercised men. J Athl Train 2012;47:648-54.
- Mitsou EK, Kougia E, Nomikos T, et al. Effect of banana consumption on faecal microbiota: a randomized, controlled trial. Anaerobe 2011;17:384-7.
- Nieman DC, Gillitt ND, Henson DA, et al. Bananas as an energy source during exercise: a metabolomics approach. PLoS One 2012;7:e37479.
- Oliveira L, Freire CS, Silvestre AJ, et al. Lipophilic extracts from banana fruit residues: a source of valuable phytosterols. J Agric Food Chem 2008;56:9520-4.
- Prabha P, Karpagam T, Varalakshmi B, et al. Indigenous anti-ulcer activity of Musa sapientum on peptic ulcer. Pharmacognosy Res 2011;3:232-8.
Bananas are one of the world’s most appealing fruits. Global banana exports reached about 18 million tons in 2015, according to the United Nations. About half of them went to the United States and the European market. In the United States, each person eats 11.4 lbs. of bananas per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, making it Americans’ favorite fresh fruit.
A wide variety of health benefits are associated with the curvy yellow fruit. Bananas are high in potassium and pectin, a form of fiber, said Laura Flores, a San Diego-based nutritionist. They can also be a good way to get magnesium and vitamins C and B6.
“Bananas are known to reduce swelling, protect against developing Type 2 diabetes, aid in weight loss, strengthen the nervous system and help with production of white blood cells, all due to the high level of vitamin B6 that bananas contain,” Flores told Live Science.
“Bananas are high in antioxidants, which can provide protection from free radicals, which we come into contact with every day, from the sunlight to the lotion you put on your skin,” Flores added.
From green to black
A 2017 meta-analysis published by Prilozi Section of Medical Sciences suggested that unripe green bananas offer some health benefits. They may help with controlling gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and ulcers, and may lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Some studies have suggested that the lectins in green bananas could provide treatment for HIV patients.
At the other end of a banana’s life, research has shown that the levels of nutrients rise in bananas as they ripen. Bananas with dark spots were eight times more effective in enhancing the power of white blood cells than green-skin bananas, according to a 2009 study published in Food Science and Technology Research. White blood cells fight infections from bacteria, fungi, viruses and other pathogens.
Here are the nutrition facts for bananas, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates food labeling through the National Labeling and Education Act:
|Nutrition Facts Serving size: 1 medium banana (4.5 oz / 126 g) Calories 110 Calories from Fat 0 *Percent Daily Values (%DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.||Amt per Serving||%DV*||Amt per Serving||%DV*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%||Total Carbohydrate 30g||10%|
|Cholesterol 0mg||0%||Dietary Fiber 3g||12%|
|Sodium 0mg||0%||Sugars 19g|
|Potassium 450mg||13%||Protein 1g|
Bananas are good for your heart. They are packed with potassium, a mineral electrolyte that keeps electricity flowing throughout your body, which is required to keep your heart beating. Bananas’ high potassium and low sodium content may also help protect your cardiovascular system against high blood pressure, according to the FDA.
A 2017 animal study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama found that the potassium in bananas is also linked to arterial effectiveness; the more potassium you have, the less likely your arteries are to harden. In the study, mice with lower-potassium diet had harder arteries than mice consuming a normal amount of potassium. Arterial stiffness in humans is linked to heart disease.
Depression and mood
Bananas can be helpful in overcoming depression “due to high levels of tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin, the mood-elevating brain neurotransmitter,” Flores said. Plus, vitamin B6 can help you sleep well, and magnesium helps to relax muscles. Additionally, the tryptophan in bananas is well known for its sleep-inducing properties.
Digestion and weight loss
Bananas are high in fiber, which can help keep you regular. One banana can provide nearly 10 percent of your daily fiber requirement. Vitamin B6 can also help protect against Type 2 diabetes and aid in weight loss, according to Flores. In general, bananas are a great weight loss food because they taste sweet and are filling, which helps curb cravings.
Bananas are particularly high in resistant starch, a form of dietary fiber in which researchers have recently become interested. A 2017 review published in Nutrition Bulletin found that the resistant starch in bananas may support gut health and control blood sugar. Resistant starch increases the production of short chain fatty acids in the gut, which are necessary to gut health.
For replenishing energy and electrolytes, bananas can be more effective than sports drinks. A 2012 study published in PLOS One looked at male athletes competing in long-distance cycling races. They compared athletes refueling with Gatorade every 15 minutes to athletes refueling with a banana and water. Researchers saw that the athletes’ performance times and body physiology were the same in both cases. But the banana’s serotonin and dopamine improved the athletes’ antioxidant capacity and helped with oxidative stress, improving performance overall.
Carrots may get all the glory for helping your eyes, but bananas do their share as well. The fruits contain a small but significant amount of vitamin A, which is essential for protecting your eyes, maintaining normal vision and improving vision at night, according to the National Institutes of Health. Vitamin A contains compounds that preserve the membranes around your eyes and are an element in the proteins that bring light to your corneas. Like other fruits, bananas can help prevent macular degeneration, an incurable condition, which blurs central vision.
Bananas may not be overflowing with calcium, but they are still helpful in keeping bones strong. According to a 2009 article in the Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, bananas contain an abundance of fructooligosaccharides. These are nondigestive carbohydrates that encourage digestive-friendly probiotics and enhance the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
Some evidence suggests that moderate consumption of bananas may be protective against kidney cancer. A 2005 Swedish study found that women who ate more than 75 servings of fruits and vegetables cut their risk of kidney cancer by 40 percent, and that bananas were especially effective. Women eating four to six bananas a week halved their risk of developing kidney cancer.
Bananas may be helpful in preventing kidney cancer because of their high levels of antioxidant phenolic compounds.
While not exactly a health benefit, a study published by The Royal Society found that the potassium in bananas is correlated with women giving birth to baby boys. The study looked at 740 women and saw that those who consumed high levels of potassium prior to conception were more likely to have a boy that those who did not.
Bananas may also help prevent gestational diabetes. Lack of sleep during pregnancy can contribute to gestational diabetes, according to a meta-analysis published in Sleep Medicine Reviews. But the magnesium and tryptophan in bananas can help ensure a good night’s rest.
Eaten in moderation, there are no significant side effects associated with eating bananas. However, eating the fruits in excess may trigger headaches and sleepiness, Flores said. She said that such headaches are caused by “the amino acids in bananas that dilate blood vessels.” Overripe bananas contain more of these amino acids than other bananas. “Bananas can also contribute to sleepiness when eaten in excess due to the high amount of tryptophan found in them,” she said. Magnesium also relaxes the muscles — another sometimes-benefit, sometimes-risk.
Bananas are a sugary fruit, so eating too many and not maintaining proper dental hygiene practices can lead to tooth decay. They also do not contain enough fat or protein to be a healthy meal on their own, or an effective post-workout snack.
Eating bananas becomes significantly risky only if you eat too many. The USDA recommends that adults eat about two cups of fruit a day, or about two bananas. If you eat dozens of bananas every day, there may be a risk of excessively high vitamin and mineral levels.
The University of Maryland Medical Center reported that potassium overconsumption can lead to hyperkalemia, which is characterized by muscle weakness, temporary paralysis and an irregular heartbeat. It can have serious consequences, but you would have to eat about 43 bananas in a short time for any symptoms of hyperkalemia to occur.
According to the NIH, consuming more than 500 milligrams of vitamin B6 daily can possibly lead to nerve damage in the arms and legs. You would have to eat thousands of bananas to reach that level of vitamin B6.
Banana peels: edible or poisonous?
It turns out that the biggest risk from a banana peel might really be slipping on it. Banana peels are not poisonous. In fact, they’re edible, and packed with nutrients. “Banana peel is eaten in many parts of the world, though not very common in the West,” Flores said. “It contains high amounts of vitamin B6 and B12, as well as magnesium and potassium. It also contains some fiber and protein.” According to a 2011 article in the journal of Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, banana peels also have “various bioactive compounds like polyphenols, carotenoids and others.”
It is important to carefully wash a banana peel before eating it due to the pesticides that may be sprayed in banana groves.
Banana peels are usually served cooked, boiled or fried, though they can be eaten raw or put in a blender with other fruits. They are not as sweet as banana flesh. Riper peels will be sweeter than unripe ones.
Other banana facts
Bananas may have been the world’s first cultivated fruit. Archaeologists have found evidence of banana cultivation in New Guinea as far back as 8000 B.C.
The banana plant is classified as an arborescent (tree-like) perennial herb, and the banana itself is considered a berry. A bunch of bananas is called a hand; a single banana is a finger.
There are almost 1,000 varieties of bananas, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Nearly all the bananas sold in stores are cloned from just one variety, the Cavendish banana plant, originally native to Southeast Asia. The Cavendish replaced the Gros Michel after that variety was wiped out by fungus in the 1950s. The Gros Michel reportedly was bigger, had a longer shelf life and tasted better. The Cavendish are resistant to the fungus that killed off the Gros Michel, but they are susceptible to another fungus and may face the same fate within the next 20 years, botanists say.
Botanically, there is no difference between plantains and bananas. But in general use, “banana” refers to the sweeter form of the fruit, which is often eaten uncooked, while “plantain” refers to a starchier fruit that is often cooked before eating.
Ecuador is the leading producer of bananas worldwide, followed by the Philippines. Bananas are produced in other tropical and subtropical areas of Asia, Africa, and the Americas, as well as the Canary Islands and Australia.
Wild bananas grow throughout Southeast Asia, but most are inedible for humans, as they are studded with hard seeds.
In 1923, sheet music for a popular song titled “Yes, We Have No Bananas!” sold upward of a thousand copies a day.
Harry Belafonte’s version of the “Banana Boat Song” was released on the first album to sell over a million copies, Belafonte’s “Calypso.”
- California Rare Fruit Growers: Banana Fruit Facts
- Chiquita: Banana Fun Facts
- FAO: Banana Facts and Figures
Top 10 Fruits Highest in Calcium
- Amount of Calcium Consumed – The more calcium you consume, the less you absorb. Though consuming more calcium will increase your total level.(2)
- Age – Children absorb about 60% of the calcium from foods, while adults absorb only 20%. Calcium absorption decreases with age and people over 50 should eat more calcium.(2)
- Pregnancy – Pregnant women absorb more calcium.(2)
- Vitamin D Intake – Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption. It can be found in foods or created by exposing skin to sunshine.(2)
- Phytic and Oxalic Acid – Even though some studies suggest phytic and oxalic acid affect calcium absorption, people eating a balanced diet will not be affected, further, the percent daily value already accounts for this absorption factor. High amounts of oxalic acid is found in plant foods like spinach, collard greens, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, and beans. Phytic acid is found in whole bread, and wheat bran.(2)
- Sodium, Protein, Alcohol, Caffeine (Coffee and Tea) – A diet high in sodium, protein, alcohol, and caffeine (coffee and tea) can harm absorption and retention of calcium by causing more calcium to be excreted. Alcohol also interferes with the metabolism of vitamin D.(2)
Do Bananas Have Calcium?
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Bananas are well known for its sugar content. Ripe bananas that are high in sugar is even used as a natural sweetener for cakes and breads. Compared to added sugar, the naturally-occurring sugar in bananas is far healthier and thus, give significant benefits to the digestive system and our overall health. Furthermore, bananas are also loaded with other beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and soluble fiber that works together to improve body functions as well as immune system.
Calcium in bananas
While bananas are high in potassium, the fruits are not loaded with high level of calcium. However, 80-gram banana contains approximately 4 mg calcium. Although bananas do not contain much calcium, the fruit is enriched with other powerful minerals and vitamins that are beneficial for the body. Those are potassium, folate, choline, iron, magnesium, vitamins, and soluble fibers. This makes either green or yellow bananas a recommended source of nutrients you can take in daily basis.
Bananas and calcium absorption
Although the fruit itself does not contain much calcium, bananas do boost calcium absorption, which improves your overall health. Calcium deficiency might be cause by two main risk factors, food intakes that do not provide any calcium as well as the body’s inability to absorb calcium. If your body can’t absorb the calcium, your bones will experience calcium deficiency and thereby, do not get enough benefits from this nutrient.
Although the fruit itself does not contain much calcium, bananas do boost calcium absorption, which improves your overall health
Fortunately, bananas aid calcium absorption in two major ways. First, bananas are enriched with fructooligosaccharide (FOS), a type of fiber that has prebiotic functions and benefits. When FOS interacts with good bacteria in your colon, your gut acidity increases, allowing your body to absorb higher amount of calcium.
Next, FOS also becomes the food source for friendly bacteria in the colon. When these good bacteria are well-fed, they consequently improve your digestive ability, allowing your body to absorb more nutrients from your food. This includes the nutrient good for your bones, the calcium. This also boosts your immune ability to prevent various health issues.
Unripe or green bananas also helps the body absorbing calcium as they contain indigestible short-chain fatty acids. These acids act on the stomach’s lining, enhancing its ability to absorb more calcium from digested foods.
Bananas improves constipation and diarrhea
If you are suffering from either constipation or diarrhea, your body will not be able to absorb sufficient vitamins and minerals from foods you are taking. Therefore, in order to restore the body’s ability to absorb necessary nutrients, you need to first taking care of these digestive issues. Fortunately, bananas have a significant role in aiding both constipation and diarrhea.
Bananas reduce stomach acidity by stimulating cells of the stomach lining to improve the condition. Once diarrhea is solved and your digestion is back to its normal function, your body will be able to absorb more calcium and other nutrients.
Calcium in banana and milk
Bananas are often added to both yogurt and milk shakes, as the fruit gives delicious taste. In fact, adding the fruit does not only improve both the appearance and taste of the shake, but also its nutrient content. Bananas itself have some calcium for your body and milk gives a quite significant amount. Hence, banana milk shake is a perfect combination of both that will help you maintain your bone density and health.
However, try not to add sugar and other high-fat ingredients to your banana milk shakes to preserve its naturally-occurring nutrients for your body to absorb. Incorporating bananas with other calcium sources is also recommended to fulfil your daily recommendation of calcium intake to promote proper digestion.
Dec 1, 2017admin
What a Banana Gives You
The right amount of carbs: Like all fruits, bananas have carbs. But not so many that folks with diabetes can’t enjoy them. If you have diabetes, you can enjoy half a banana when you need a snack.
They also won’t blow up a low-carb diet. A medium one gives you about 27 grams.
A Feast of Fiber: It’s no secret that the right amount of fiber in your diet is good for you. An average-size banana gives you 3 grams of it. That’s about 10% of what you need each day. That boost can help keep your bowels working at their best. It can also help keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check, and help ease inflammation.
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.
Powerful Potassium: This mineral is a big player in heart health. Potassium-rich foods help manage your blood pressure because they help you get rid of more sodium when you pee. Potassium also relaxes the walls of your blood vessels, which helps lower your BP.
What’s more, potassium:
- May lower your risk of stroke
- Can help keep your bones healthy as you age
- Helps your muscles work better
But if you have kidney problems, too much potassium isn’t good for you. Check with your doctor to see how much you should have.
A Happier Belly: It seems bananas are good for your tummy, too.
The yellow fruit is a source of prebiotics. Those are carbs you don’t digest, but they’re a food source for the more-popular probiotics. Those are the good bacteria found in your gut.
There’s also evidence that probiotics can help with the annoying diarrhea people get after they take some antibiotics.
They can also help:
- Improve yeast and urinary tract infections
- Treat some gastrointestinal infections
- Ease irritable bowel syndrome
- Lessen lactose intolerance
- Work on some allergy symptoms
Probiotics may even help make colds and the flu less severe.