The many health benefits of bananas are nothing short of amazing. Bananas are gloriously sweet and come prepackaged with an easy-open pull down. Bananas are a favorite of just about everyone, young and old. The fact that they contain a vibrant punch of potassium (a whopping 467 mg of potassium per banana) makes them not only delicious, but extremely healthy for most people.
Not many people know that for the most antioxidant benefit, it is best to consume bananas when they are fully ripened. The University of Innsbruck in Austria conducted research that suggested that as bananas fully ripen, very close to the point of spoilage, their antioxidant levels actually begin to increase.
Interesting Facts About Bananas
- Botanically, bananas are a berry.
- The ‘banana tree’ is technically regarded as a herbaceous plant (or ‘herb’), not a tree, because the stem does not contain true woody tissue.
- The banana plant actually belongs to the same family as the lily and the orchid.
- Bananas are the most popular fruit in the world. Over 100 billion bananas are eaten around the world every year, and around 51% of these are eaten at breakfast time.
- Some scientists believe bananas may have been the world’s first fruit.
- Having originated in Malaysia, bananas were not even brought to the United States for sale until the latter part of the 19th century. In the beginning they were only enjoyed by people in seacoast towns where the banana schooners docked.
- In 327 BC, Alexander The Great and his army invaded India and discovered a banana crop in the Indian Valleys. After tasting the banana for the first time, he introduced this new discovery to the Western world.
- Currently, there are 1000+ different varieties of bananas growing around the world. However, 95% of banana exports come from a single cultivated variety called the Cavendish variety.
- Wild bananas are full of seeds and are barely edible. Bananas that are commercially grown and cultivated specifically for consumption do not have seeds.
DID YOU KNOW? When bananas are soaked or boiled in water (purified), some of the potassium from bananas is removed. This is important information for those on low potassium diets or those suffering from adrenal fatigue who have been told that they should not consume bananas. A study conducted by the University of Bath in the United Kingdom indicates that cooking bananas in water (purified) for 10 minutes also makes them less firm. As a result, the bananas are much easier to mix with other ingredients, which is useful when making a healthy banana bread at home.
Do Bananas Contain Too Much Sugar?
The average banana contains about 14 grams of sugar. However, these are natural sugars, not added refined sugars such as those found in baked and packaged snacks. Since fruit sugars are bound up in fibrous cell walls and contain water, they don’t have the same blood glucose level impact that processed sugars do. In addition, the average banana also provides six grams of fiber, which helps prevent spikes in your blood sugar when you eat it.
Below are the best 22 health benefits of bananas. After reading this list I believe you will agree with me that it makes good sense to include a banana in your daily diet.
- great source of potassium
- supports healthy blood pressure
- may help protect against atherosclerosis
- promotes bone health
- protects against stomach ulcers
- supports healthy elimination
- high in magnesium
- rich in vitamin B6
- supports healthy eyesight
- rich source of the prebiotic fructooligosaccharide
- improves nutrient absorption
- rich in provitamin A carotenoids
- rich in iron
- promotes kidney health
- may reduce risk of kidney & colon cancer
- great source of natural energy
- contains tryptophan which can lift the spirit
- bananas have a level of vitamin B6 that helps to support healthy blood glucose levels
- helps regulate dopamine
- may calm morning sickness
- banana peels may help to soothe mosquito bites
- promotes hemoglobin production
Bananas May Support Healthy Mood and Restful Sleep
Another of the amazing health benefits of bananas and one that research supports is that potassium-containing foods, such as bananas, may help you experience more restful sleep. Published in Hypertension Research, a 2018 study found that people who had less potassium in their blood experienced sleep patterns that were more disturbed and less restful.
Bananas are a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that converts to serotonin — a sleep-promoting neurotransmitter. A 2013 study also found that certain tropical fruits, including bananas, have increased levels of the sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin.
Bananas also contain good amounts of magnesium and vitamin B6, both of which can help with calming your mind as well as promoting restful sleep. Because of the potassium, tryptophan, melatonin, and B6 found in bananas, there’s adequate reason to believe they can help with promoting a restful night’s sleep.
Banana Morning Smoothie
(Always use organic ingredients when available.)
2 ripe frozen bananas
8-oz sliced pineapple
1/3 cup of chopped cold mango
handful of crushed oats
1 Tablespoon freshly ground flax seeds
1 cup cold almond milk or other nut milk
Blend in a high speed blender until smooth. Enjoy!
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- 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.
- Food Revolution Network. Are Bananas Good for You?