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Bananas Health Benefits

Updated November 29th, 2010 · 4 Comments

Bananas are unique fruit with unique properties. It is a fantastic fruit with sweet taste that most people enjoy. Bananas perfectly satisfy hunger and supply an organism with energy and useful nutrients. It has a rare combination of energy value, tissue-building elements, vitamins and minerals, fiber and other essential nutrients. Also bananas have very convenient natural packing. It is compact, healthy, easy to carry, and easy to use.

The health benefits of bananas are being investigated worldwide. And here is the list of these benefits. But first, some interesting facts about bananas:

  • Banana fruit is botanically defined as a berry, and the plant it grows on is a herb.
  • They are the only fruit that actually develop better color, texture, aroma, and sweetness when ripened after harvest. It’s the tiny seeds within the fruit that release a ripening hormone, a mixture of ethylene gas and carbon dioxide.
  • Bananas are the most potassium-rich fruit that is available worldwide and year-round.
  • Bananas make baby boys! Recently researchers confirmed the old wives’ tale that eating bananas is associated with having a boy.

1 Reduced risk of high blood pressure

Bananas are one of our best sources of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. A medium-sized banana provides 350 mg of potassium. The effectiveness of potassium-rich fruits in lowering blood pressure has been demonstrated by a number of studies. According to the FDA, “Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.” Plus, potassium helps your body maintain normal fluid and electrolyte balances in the cells.

The Indian scientists report that natural compounds in bananas act in a manner similar to anti-hypertensive drugs[1]. The Manipal team studied six popular banana varieties and found that all had ACE-inhibiting properties, though the ripened bananas had a stronger action than unripe ones. Researchers have reported that blood pressure fell by 10% in people who ate two bananas daily for a week.

2 Redused risk of stroke

Scientists suggest that people with a low intake of potassium may have an increased risk of stroke. The observational study of 5,600 people aged over 65 found that those with the lowest intake of the potassium were 50% more likely to suffer a stroke[5].

Bananas may lower your risk of stroke. However, researchers say that more studies are needed confirm whether increasing potassium in the diet can prevent strokes.

3 Restore normal bowel activity

Because the banana is rich in nondigestible fibers (including cellulose, hemicellulose, and alpha-glucans) it can help restore normal bowel activity and help with both constipation and diarrhea. Bananas normalize the colon’s function to absorb large amounts of water for regular bowel movements. Their benefit is due to their richness in pectin, which is water-absorbent and this gives them a bulk producing ability.

Bananas are an exceptionally rich source of fructooligosaccharide, a compound called a prebiotic because it nourishes probiotic (friendly) bacteria in the colon. These beneficial bacteria produce vitamins and digestive enzymes that improve our ability to absorb nutrients, plus compounds that protect us against unfriendly microorganisms. When fructooligosaccharides are fermented by these friendly bacteria, not only do numbers of probiotic bacteria increase, but so does the body’s ability to absorb calcium.

Research published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences[2] underscores just how much bananas can improve nutrient absorption. In this study, 57 babies (5-12 months) with persistent diarrhea of at least 14 days duration were given a week’s treatment with a rice alone or rice-based diet containing either green banana or apple pectin. Treatment with both green banana and apple pectin resulted in a 50% reduction in stool weights, indicating that the babies were absorbing significantly more nutrients.

4Protection from ulcers & heartburn

Bananas have long been recognized for their antacid effects that protect against stomach ulcers and ulcer damage. A flavonoid in the banana, leucocyanidin[3], has been found to significantly increase the thickness of the mucous membrane layer of the stomach.

Since bananas help to neutralize acidity, they are also a great way to get rid of heartburn. In an animal study, a simple mixture of banana and milk significantly suppressed acid secretion[4].

5 Protection against neurodegenerative diseases

Researchers at Cornell University investigated the effects of apple, banana, and orange extracts on neuron cells and found that the phenolic phytochemicals of the fruits prevented neurotoxicity on the cells[6]. Among the three fruits, apples contained the highest content of protective antioxidants, followed by bananas then oranges.

These results suggest that fresh apples, banana, and orange along with other fruits may protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity and may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

6 Perfect Baby food

Bananas are the best solids to introduce to infants. A mashed ripe banana is an extremely simple and healthy for baby, they are very easy to digest and rarely cause allergic reactions.

Bananas are part of the BRAT diet, which many physicians recommend for children recovering from gastrointestinal problems, particularly diarrhea.

Recent study found evidence that a higher consumption of bananas and apple juice from concentrate may protect against wheezing in children[7].

7 Cholesterol-lowering effect

Animal studies have shown that banana has the potential to lower cholesterol[8]. It was suggested that the dietary fibre component in banana pulp was responsible for this effect. The amount of fibre in banana is relatively constant during banana ripening.

8 Kidney health

Bananas promote an overall improvement of the functional efficiency of kidneys due to the high potassium content. A normal intake of potassium suppresses calcium excretion in the urine and minimizes the risk of kidney stones.

The results of the Swedish population based prospective study (13.4 years) of 61,000 women aged 40-76, show that women eating more than 75 servings of fruits and vegetables per month (which translates into 2.5 per day) cut their risk of kidney cancer 40%[9]. Among the fruits, bananas were especially protective. Women eating bananas four to six times a week halved their risk of developing the disease compared to those who did not eat this fruit.

9 Hang-over

Another health benefit of bananas is their ability to cure hang-over. Just drink a banana cocktail with milk and honey. Bananas are known to calm an upset stomach and help rehydrate your body. They are rich in the important electrolytes, magnesium and potassium, which are severely depleted during heavy drinking. Banana with the honey builds up the depleted blood sugar levels, giving you some energy.

10 Energy booster

Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. Potassium is also essential for helping muscles to contract properly during exercise and reduces cramping up. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes.

11 Immunity booster

Bananas contain 25 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin B6, necessary for producing antibodies and red blood cells as well as aiding in the metabolism of fat. In addition, vitamin B6 serves as an immunity booster. With each average-sized banana, you ingest about 15 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, one of the strongest antioxidants.

Nutrient content of Banana
Water 74.91 g
Energy 89 kcal
Energy 371 kj
Protein 1.09 g
Total lipid 0.33 g
Carbohydrate, by difference 22.84 g
Fiber 2.6 g
Sugars, total 12.23 g
Sucrose 2.39 g
Glucose (dextrose) 4.98 g
Fructose 4.85 g
Starch 5.38 g
Calcium, Ca 5 mg
Iron, Fe 0.26 mg
Magnesium, Mg 27 mg
Phosphorus, P 22 mg
Potassium, K 358 mg
Sodium, Na 1 mg
Zinc, Zn 0.15 mg
Copper, Cu 0.078 mg
Manganese, Mn 0.27 mg
Selenium, Se 1 mcg
Fluoride, F 2.2 mcg
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 8.7 mg
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 0.031 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.073 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 0.665 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) 0.334 mg
Vitamin B6 0.367 mg
Folate 20 mcg
Choline 9.8 mg
Betaine 0.1 mg
Vitamin A, IU 64 IU
Vitamin A, RAE 3 mcg_RAE
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 0.1 mg
Tocopherol, gamma 0.02 mg
Tocopherol, delta 0.01 mg
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 0.5 mcg
Fatty acids, saturated 0.112 g
Fatty acids, monounsaturated 0.032 g
Fatty acids, polyunsaturated 0.073 g
Phytosterols 16 mg
Tryptophan 0.009 g
Threonine 0.028 g
Isoleucine 0.028 g
Leucine 0.068 g
Lysine 0.05 g
Methionine 0.008 g
Cystine 0.009 g
Phenylalanine 0.049 g
Tyrosine 0.009 g
Valine 0.047 g
Arginine 0.049 g
Histidine 0.077 g
Alanine 0.04 g
Aspartic acid 0.124 g
Glutamic acid 0.152 g
Glycine 0.038 g
Proline 0.028 g
Serine 0.04 g
Carotene, beta 26 mcg
Carotene, alpha 25 mcg
Lutein + zeaxanthin 22 mcg

Sources & References

  • 1. Sarkar C, Bairy KL, Rao NM, Udupa EG. Effect of banana on cold stress test & peak expiratory flow rate in healthy volunteers. Indian J Med Res. 1999 Jul;110:27-9. PubMed
  • 2. Rabbani GH, Teka T, Saha SK, Zaman B, Majid N, Khatun M, Wahed MA, Fuchs GJ. Green banana and pectin improve small intestinal permeability and reduce fluid loss in Bangladeshi children with persistent diarrhea. Dig Dis Sci. 2004 Mar;49(3):475-84.
  • 3. Lewis DA, Fields WN, Shaw GP. A natural flavonoid present in unripe plantain banana pulp (Musa sapientum L. var. paradisiaca) protects the gastric mucosa from aspirin-induced erosions. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Jun;65(3):283-8. PubMed
  • 4. Hills BA, Kirwood CA. Surfactant approach to the gastric mucosal barrier: protection of rats by banana even when acidified. Gastroenterology. 1989 Aug;97(2):294-303.
  • 5. Levine SR, Coull BM. Potassium depletion as a risk factor for stroke: will a banana a day keep your stroke away? Neurology. 2002 Aug 13;59(3):302-3.
  • 6. Heo HJ, Choi SJ, Choi SG, Shin DH, Lee JM, Lee CY. Effects of banana, orange, and apple on oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity in PC12 cells. J Sci. 2008 Mar;73(2):H28-32. PubMed
  • 7. Okoko et al. Childhood asthma and fruit consumption in South London. Eur Respir J. 2007 Feb 14; PubMed
  • 8. Horigome T, Sakaguchi E, Kishimoto C. Hypocholesterolaemic effect of banana (Musa sapientum L. var. Cavendishii) pulp in the rat. Br J Nutr. 1992 Jul;68(1):231-44.
  • 9. Rashidkhani B, Lindblad P, Wolk A. Fruits, vegetables and risk of renal cell carcinoma: a prospective study of Swedish women. Int J Cancer. 2005 Jan 20;113(3):451-5. PubMed

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Julius // Nov 30, 2008 at 12:42 am

    I visited this site and found a treasure of information. So much to learn here with no help from a health providers site. No wonder finding some information is easy as going to a place where most educators are not going. Thanks

  • 2 Sam // Jan 7, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    It’s quiet interesting to learn from your website. Thanks and keep it up.

  • 3 Saipan Smith // Mar 8, 2009 at 12:19 am

    I am convinced. I happen to love bananas–I really think I’m half money–and I have noticed the energy boost and the regularity thing long ago. I am gald to learn about the rest of their benefits too.

  • 4 luzviminda agunos andoy // May 27, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    thank u so much for sharing your knowleged about banana contents, it will help me from my high blood preasure.