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What Are the Health Benefits of Bananas?

What Are the Health Benefits of Bananas?

Aside from being a delicious fruit, bananas have a number of often-overlooked health benefits. Archaeologists consider the Kuk Valley of New Guinea at around 8,000 BC to be the period where humans first considered the banana as an edible option. It didn’t take long for bananas to reach Southeastern Asia and countries across the Southern Pacific Ocean. After making its way through countries like the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Australia and Malaysia, the banana reached Eastern Africa around 3,000 BC and then Madagascar around 1,000 BC through its cousin known as the plantain.

There are 3 different kinds of bananas bearing the scientific names of Musa Acuminata, Musa Balbisiana and Musa x Paradisiana. Bananas have proven to replenish various parts of the human body in a multitude of ways such as dieting, being made into protein shakes after workouts, and being added to salads.

Bananas Help Reduce Constipation

Bananas contain a soluble fiber, or hydro-colloid, known as Pectin, which normalizes the movement of broken down foods in the digestive tract. One study found that banana starch proved to be effective in accelerating the movement of the small intestine and it also shortened the start time of defecation. This study concluded that consuming bananas are useful in improving motility of the intestines during constipation.

There is a perception that bananas actually cause constipation instead of fighting it, as one study finds. When asked which foods they believed caused constipation, 29-48% of respondents mentioned bananas. In truth bananas contain less fiber than many other foods, which gives people relief from constipation, according to Dr. Hansa D. Bhargava.

Bananas Help Lower Blood Pressure

Bananas are extremely high in potassium content, containing 806 grams to be exact. Bananas are also very low in sodium, containing only 1 milligram. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 56% of American adults and 10% of American children have either hypertension or prehypertension. According to a discovery made by doctors in India, consuming 2 bananas per day can reduce blood pressure by 10% within 1 week. Consuming 5 bananas per day was 50% as effective as taking prescription medication. A diet that is high in potassium would reduce the risk of one suffering from high blood pressure.

Bananas Help to Prevent Anemia

There are 4 important components that help promote the proper hemoglobin function of the body by way of going on a vitamin-rich diet, according to the Mayo Clinic. Bananas contain 0.6 milligrams (3% RDA) of iron, 45 micrograms of folate and 19.6 milligrams (33%) of Vitamin C, 3 of the 4 important components. Anemia is mainly developed because of a deficiency in iron and/or vitamins. One study found that there was a 6.32-fold increase in iron accumulation in regenerated plants with the addition of bananas along with a 4.58-fold increase in zinc. Bananas contain 0.3 milligrams (2%) of zinc. This leads to the conclusion that the banana is a functional food for treating anemia-related malnutrition. In the case of pregnant women, consuming bananas is especially wise in treating anemia because of its rich content in folate.

Bananas Treat Depression

Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can be converted to serotonin. Vitamin B-6 is needed in aiding the production of serotonin. Bananas contain 0.8 milligrams (41%) of Vitamin B-6. Though there are many causes of depression, one nutritional cause can be the lack of  Vitamin B-12 and folate. By lacking these key vitamins the methylation that is necessary to produce monoamine neurotransmitters in your central nervous system may be impaired. While bananas are not the very first options you turn to for treating despression, they do serve as a helpful neurotransmitter of sorts because of its folate and serotonin content. By consuming bananas you give your body the tools to make the chemical that is needed to help maintain a good mood. The consumption of 1 banana amounts to that of 1/5 of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin B-6.

Bananas Promote Bone Health

According to the University of Maryland studies have shown a positive link between bone health and one going on a potassium-rich diet. By increasing the consumption of foods rich in potassium, such as bananas, they may play a role in preventing osteoporosis. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are compounds that nourish probiotic bacteria in the colon, generally improving intestinal microflaura. FOS increases the quantity of bone content and its functionality. The body’s ability to absorb calcium, magnesium and iron are improved with FOS. Through one study the rate of total-body and spinal bone loss in postmenopausal women was slowed by FOS. Bananas contain plenty of FOS.

A suprising Health Benefit of Bananas: They can Act as an Anti-Smoking Aid

Bananas contain Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, and because of this consuming a banana can serve as an excellent coping mechanism when one quits smoking. When one consumes bananas there is less of a chance of that person suffering from a nicotine withdrawal. Magnesium relaxes the muscles and calms the nerves. It is recommended that those who quite smoking consume an extra 300 milligrams of magnesium per day to boost serotonin levels. Unlike certain anti-smoking medications there are no side effects in eating bananas, which help to combat the stress of recovering smokers. Vitamin A repairs teeth and soft tissue. The immune-boosting advantage that bananas give recovering smokers

Bananas Help Prevent Heartburn

Potassium is an alkalizing mineral with a pH level of 14. The consumption of an overripe banana can reduce the acidity of the stomach and decrease the stomach’s pH level. Consuming unripened bananas are not recommended to treat heartburn because they contain potassium nitrate, and nitrate of any kind helps trigger heartburn, so let a bundle of bananas ripen after you buy them. Bananas contain a chemical that stimulate the stomach lining into producing a protective mucus. Heartburn occurs whenever excess acid is pushed up the esophagus after digestion. Sufficient fiber consumption is needed to combat heartburn. Bananas contain 5.9 grams (23%) of dietary fiber.

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.