Bananas are generally good for you, as they contain several health benefits, such as providing the body with energy, reducing blood pressure, preventing muscle cramps and promoting serotonin production to combat depression and improve your mood.
These benefits are due to the fact that bananas are rich in carbohydrates, fiber, potassium and magnesium, as well as B vitamins and vitamin C.
Furthermore, this fruit is very versatile, and can be consumed ripe or unripe, raw or cooked, and whole or mashed. It can be used in the preparation of sweet and savory dishes.
The main health benefits of bananas are:
1. Regulating bowel movements
Bananas help to regulate bowel function, as they are rich in fiber and can help to relieve constipation (especially when consumed very ripe).
Furthermore, bananas, when consumed unripe, can help to treat diarrhea, as they help reduce the frequency of bowel movements. Unripe bananas increase the absorption of water and electrolytes in the intestines, preventing complications like dehydration.
2. Managing your weight
Bananas, especially when they are unripe, promote a decrease in appetite, as they are rich in fibers that speed-up food digestion time. They are a great fruit for managing weight, as long as they are consumed in moderation and incorporated into a balanced and healthy diet.
3. Lowering blood pressure
Bananas are rich in magnesium and potassium, minerals that promote the relaxation of blood vessels and facilitate blood circulation. Therefore bananas can help to prevent and lower blood pressure. Furthermore, the potassium in bananas can promote the elimination of excess sodium circulating in the blood through urine.
4. Preventing muscle cramps
Bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium, which are important minerals for electrical conduction, contraction and muscle recovery. Bananas can therefore help to prevent muscle cramps and improve physical performance.
5. Improving mental health
Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid that is essential for the formation of hormones that improve your mood and help you relax. They also contain magnesium, a mineral that prevents depression and reduces anxiety levels to improve overall mood.
6. Strengthening the immune system
Because it is rich in vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant) and vitamin B6 (a vitamin that promotes the formation of antibodies and defense cells), bananas are capable of strengthening the immune system. Therefore this fruit can prevent and help to fight colds, flu and infections.
7. Preventing premature aging
Banana is rich in vitamin C, a vitamin that promotes the formation of collagen in the body and has antioxidant properties. This vitamin helps to prevent the aging of skin cells, preventing the formation of wrinkles and promoting wound healing.
8. Helping to control cholesterol
The fiber present in bananas reduces the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. Its potassium is essential for the functioning of the heart. Therefore, bananas can help to maintain cardiovascular health and prevent diseases such as myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis and stroke.
9. Preventing colon cancer
Bananas are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber and antioxidants, helping to keep the digestive system healthy and prevent the development of colon cancer. The fermentation of fiber in the intestines leads to the production of substances such as butyric acid, which can prevent the development of cancer.
10. Providing energy for exercise
Bananas are an excellent source of carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals, and should normally be consumed before exercising. They can provide your with energy prior to physical activity, and can help to improve performance and prevent cramps.
11. Improving digestive problems
Bananas can help to relieve acidity in the stomach and prevent the formation of gastric ulcers, as they contain a substance called leukocyanidin. This is a flavonoid that increases the thickness of the digestive mucosa and neutralizes stomach acidity.
12. Improving metabolism
Bananas are rich in nutrients and contain B6-complex vitamins, which are important for the proper functioning of metabolism. These vitamins participate in many chemical reactions so that the energy from the food can be used by all cells in the body.
The following table contains nutritional information for every 100 g of ripe banana:
|Components||100 g de banana|
|Vitamin A||4 mcg|
|Vitamin B1||0.06 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.07 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.7 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.29 mg|
|Vitamin C||10 mg|
Banana peel has twice as much potassium and can be used in recipes such as cake and brigadeiro.
It is important to remember that, in order to obtain all the benefits mentioned above, bananas should be incorporated into a healthy and balanced diet.
How to eat
Bananas can be included in your daily diet just like any other fruit. The daily fruit recommendation is, in general, 2 to 3 servings per day, which equates to 1 small banana or 1/2 a large banana per day.
Diabetics should opt for less ripe bananas, which contain less sugar. Green banana biomass and green banana flour are also recommended for diabetics, as well as used to treat constipation and promote weight loss
Ripe vs unripe Banana
The difference between ripe and green bananas is that unripe bananas are high in fiber, both non-soluble and soluble (mainly pectin). As the banana ripens, the amount of fiber decreases and is transformed into the fruit's natural sugars.
How to eat without gaining weight
To consume bananas without gaining weight, it is important to mix them with foods that are sources of protein or good fats, such as the following combinations:
- Banana with peanuts, chestnuts or peanut butter, which are sources of good fat and B vitamins.
- Banana mashed with oats, as oats are rich in fiber that helps control the effect of banana sugar.
- Banana blended with a slice of cheese, as cheese is rich in proteins and fats.
- Banana for dessert with main meals, as when eating a good amount of salad and meat, chicken or fish, the carbohydrates in bananas will not stimulate the production of body fat.
Furthermore, other tips are to eat bananas pre- or post-workout and choose small bananas that are not too ripe, as this way they will not be rich in sugar.
Some recipes that can be made with banana are:
1. Sugar-free banana bread
This bread is a great healthy snack, and can be consumed in small quantities by people with diabetes.
- 3 medium ripe bananas
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup rolled oats or oat bran
- 1/2 cup raisins or dates
- 1/2 cup of oil
- 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
- 1 level tablespoon of yeast
How to prepare
Blend everything in a blender, pour the dough into a greased pan and place in a preheated medium oven for 30 minutes or until the toothpick comes out dry, indicating that the cake is ready.
2. Banana smoothie
This smoothie can be used as a pre-workout, as it is rich in energy and carbohydrates that will maintain your energy throughout the physical activity.
- 1 medium banana
- 2 tablespoons of oats
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
- 200 ml cold milk
How to prepare:
Blend all ingredients in a blender and drink immediately.