10 Health Benefits of Bananas You Didn’t Know About
You’ve probably already heard that bananas are delicious and filling, but did you know they have so many health benefits? From helping relieve constipation to preventing kidney stones, bananas can make your life better in many ways. Next time you reach for a banana, think about these 10 great health benefits of bananas you didn’t know about!
1) Bananas Have ZERO Carbs
Perhaps one of the most well-known benefits of bananas is that they’re a low-carb fruit. One medium banana contains just 27 grams of carbohydrate, which is less than an apple or half a cup of rice. That means bananas won’t significantly raise your blood sugar, making them perfect for people with diabetes and those who are trying to follow a ketogenic diet. In fact, due to their low glycemic index, eating bananas can improve your insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation (1).
2) Improve Your Digestion
Eat a banana before each meal, as it can help improve digestion and prevent heartburn. When you eat a meal, your body produces digestive enzymes to break down food so your stomach and intestines can absorb nutrients. A potassium-packed banana stimulates production of these enzymes, helping ease digestion. In addition, it will settle an upset stomach, heartburn or nausea by coating your stomach lining with a soothing layer that protects against acid damage—and bananas contain natural anti-inflammatory properties thanks to their high levels of salicylates (found in aspirin). It’s also one of only five fruits that contains prebiotics (substances that feed probiotic bacteria) which may also aid in easing symptoms of indigestion or irritable bowel syndrome.
3) They Keep You From Getting Sick
B-Vitamins are important for your immune system, and bananas contain a considerable amount. If you’re about to catch a cold or have just come down with one, eating one (or two) can help reduce your symptoms—the vitamin C in bananas helps prevent viral infections by bolstering your immune system’s ability to fight off germs. Even if you don’t get sick right away, though, try adding them to your diet anyway: B-vitamins can help reduce stress and protect against heart disease and mental illness.
4) Boost Your Immune System
Loaded with vitamin C, bananas are a great immune system booster. And even though citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits pack more vitamin C, bananas provide 4 grams in just one medium-sized fruit. Vitamin C plays an important role in protecting cells from free radical damage and aiding them in DNA repair. This helps protect against diseases caused by harmful mutations like cancer. 1 Vitamin B6: Bananas contain about 40% of your daily recommended intake for vitamin B6. Low levels of B6 have been linked to insomnia, anxiety, and depression, so consider adding a banana to your breakfast (along with some turkey bacon) if you tend to feel blue too often.
5) Energy Boost
Research published in Current Nutrition Reports suggests that bananas are high in potassium and may help prevent muscle cramps. Athletes love potassium because it helps to delay fatigue, which means you can push harder for longer. Potassium also has a positive effect on heart function, brain function and blood pressure levels. Keep an eye on your intake because bananas are high in sugar – but only eat them before exercise if you’re trying to manage your weight.
6) Good For Weight Loss
A medium banana has around 100 calories, which isn’t very much. Pair that with a high fiber content and a satisfying crunch, and you’ve got yourself a delicious weight loss snack. Plus, bananas are known to help you feel full longer than other types of fruit or even meals. A study in International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that eating foods like bananas could improve satiety (fullness), leading to better weight management over time. Another plus? Most people associate bananas with being cheap and readily available—not something you have to go out for or put on your restaurant tab. And if you don’t have one in your area, it’s easy enough to just eat them at home!
7) Improve Heart Health
Fruits are often good for your heart. In fact, one study found that people who eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day are half as likely to have a heart attack compared to those who only ate one serving. Bananas contain potassium and magnesium, both nutrients linked to a lower risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Eating bananas regularly might help keep your blood pressure down and reduce your risk for heart disease or a stroke.
8) Lower Blood Pressure
Research shows that potassium may help to lower blood pressure. A University of Toronto study showed that women who consumed more than 4,000 mgs a day had significant reductions in their blood pressure. It’s important to note that it might take up to six months for increased consumption of potassium to have an effect on blood pressure levels. So, do your best to eat about four bananas each day and monitor your blood pressure over time. If you see benefits, great!
9) Prevent Constipation
One high-fiber, potassium-packed banana can alleviate constipation. A small 2005 study published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics found that bananas provide significant relief from chronic constipation and can increase bowel movement frequency by 25 percent. Simply peel a banana and eat half to start seeing results. If you don’t like bananas, or if you’re just looking for a more convenient way to get your daily dose of fiber, try adding some psyllium seed husks (found in most health food stores) to water or other liquids and drink it throughout the day. The slippery little husks will bulk up your liquid and make you go.
10) Improves Bone Density
Potassium helps protect bone density, keeping your bones strong and helping to prevent issues like osteoporosis. The average adult needs 4,700 mg of potassium a day, but most people only get about 2,000. One banana (which has 422 mg) can help you get close to that target number and improve your bone health as a result. There’s also evidence it may be beneficial for reducing pain and improving physical function in people with osteoarthritis. Even if you’re not dealing with arthritis or any form of joint damage at all, eating bananas regularly can be a smart move for your health and longevity in general.