banana

Bananas Health Benefits

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Bananas have always been an easy way of including more fruit and vegetables in our diet.

They are available all year round and make a delicious snack any time of the day or night.

This seedless, yellow fruit with its ‘ready-made packaging’ is more than just tasty.

A medium size banana is rich in vitamin B6 which is recognized as a brain food and mood enhancer, and a good source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber and manganese – and with only 105 calories.


Bananas are quite sugary, although naturally so, and combined with the potassium can provide you with a quick burst of energy.

You often see athletes like tennis players munching on a banana between sets to keep their energy levels high.

Their potassium and strong antioxidant nutrients make them beneficial for many health conditions including cardiovascular protection, cancer fighting properties, kidney health, bone health, blood pressure and much more!

Background

Bananas are the fruits of a large herbaceous plant descended from the wild plants musa balbisiana and musa acuminata.

They can grow up to 25 feet tall and each banana plant can bear between 50 and 150 bananas.

They are grouped in “hands” which are clusters of around 15-25 bananas.

Most people are used to the long, curved, yellow bananas they see in the supermarket, but bananas can come in a wide variety of shapes and colors, including round bananas, or red or purple bananas, or even bananas with large seeds.

Plantains are a type of banana cultivar raised to have firmer flesh, for cooking.

As bananas ripen, their flesh softens and their peels go from green, to yellow, to yellow with brown spots, to brown when overripe.

Refrigerating or cooking bananas in their peel will cause the peel to turn very dark brown.

Health Benefits of Bananas

Good for Maintaining Strong Healthy Bones

Everyone knows that calcium is crucial for building strong bones, especially for younger children.

It is imperative that children absorb plenty of calcium to form strong healthy bones while they’re growing.

Once we stop growing and start getting older our ability to absorb calcium declines and bones can become weaker as a result.

Bananas (especially green ones) contain short chain fatty acids which nourish the lining of the intestines which makes it much easier for calcium to be absorbed.

But calcium isn’t the only mineral needed to maintain a strong skeleton.

Vitamin D and phosphorus are also needed to keep bones from losing their strength.

Bananas contain five percent of your daily allowance of phosphorus (that’s five times as much as an apple), one percent of your daily allowance of calcium, and are an abundant source of other key nutrients.

Bananas Provide Instant Energy

Bananas are a very naturally sweet food, which is why they are often used to sweeten plain cereal, and as an accompaniment to ice cream and smoothies.

So it isn’t surprising to learn that they are mostly made up of carbohydrates, which means that they can provide fast, easy energy when eaten as a snack.

What many people don’t know is that banana also contains protein, fiber, and fat.

They have about 2.5 grams of protein per serving (that’s 5% of the average person’s daily allowance), and only 0,7 grams of fat.

Bananas also offer a whopping 23% of your recommended daily dietary fiber intake which is needed for a healthy digestive system.

B vitamins can help people feel less lethargic and sluggish, too.

Bananas offer 7% of your daily niacin intake, and approx 35% of your B6.

Good for the Heart and Blood Pressure

There are a few key components to a heart healthy diet- low sodium, low LDL cholesterol, low saturated fat, and high fiber.

In addition to being very low fat, less than 1% of your daily sodium allowance, cholesterol free, and fulfilling 23% of your fiber needs, a banana contains 3% of your iron needs, 15% of your magnesium needs, and 23% of your potassium needs.

Potassium in particular helps the heart to function normally and regulates blood pressure, thus helping to reduce high blood pressure.

Fiber has also been shown to help lower cholesterol.

By binding to bile salts in the intestinal tract, fiber carries them out of the body via the colon.

The liver breaks down cholesterol to help replace them, leading to lower cholesterol levels in the blood stream.

Helps Prevent Stomach Acid and Ulcers

Bananas contain important compounds that work in a couple of ways:

First of all they activate cells in the stomach lining that is responsible for producing mucus that lines the stomach and protects it from acids.

Secondly the compounds found in bananas known as protease inhibitors help to eliminate certain bacteria in the stomach that causes ulcers.

Helps Protect Against Cancer

All fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants in the form of their nutrients. Usually the richer the color, the more antioxidants they contain.

It is known that antioxidant rich foods help combat damaging free radicals that cause illness and disease such as cancer.

Although bananas have not been singled out for research into their ant-cancer properties, their unique antioxidants will almost certainly play a part in helping to suppress cancer cell growth.

A study conducted by the International Journal of Cancer reported that women eating bananas four to six times a week, reduced their chance of developing kidney cancer by as much as 50%.

Help Prevent Spina Bifida

There are numerous complications that can strike a developing fetus, including a condition called spina bifida.

Spina bifida occurs when the developmental tube containing the spinal cord tissue doesn’t close properly, leaving the cord exposed in areas.

It can range from mild to severe, and have a huge impact on the baby’s quality of life.

To prevent this condition, obstetricians recommend that women be sure to get enough folic acid or folate in their diet, before they even conceive.

Folic acid and folate are two different types of the same vitamin, with folate being the naturally-occurring form.

Bananas contain 45 micrograms of folate, or roughly 11% of your daily allowance.

Selecting Bananas

Choose bananas that have clear, blemish free skins without any cuts or bruises.

They should be firm but not hard and both ends should be intact.

The size of a banana does not make any difference to its quality, so choose which size suits you best.

Storing Bananas

Bananas will keep best in room temperature, but will also keep in the refrigerator.

When kept in the refrigerator the skin will brown very quickly but the banana will remain fresh inside.

Make sure the banana is allowed to return to normal room temperature before you eat it for maximum flavor.

Storing bananas with apples will speed up the ripening process, as will wrapping them in newspaper.

Green bananas should not be placed in the refrigerator as the cold temperature will permanently prevent them from ripening.

You can freeze bananas if you peel them first and place them in a plastic wrap. Add some lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

Peter

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