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Bananas Health Benefits

Updated December 29th, 2014 · 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 provide 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 packaging. 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 proven 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 very rich sources of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Also, potassium helps the body maintain normal fluid and electrolyte balances in the cells. 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[1]. 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.”

2 Reduced risk of stroke

There is evidence 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].

Recent 2014 study confirmed that high potassium diet is associated with a lower risk of all types of stroke[10].

3 Digestive health

Banana is rich in nondigestible fibers (including cellulose, hemicellulose, and alpha-glucans). It can help relief constipation[12] due to resistant starch content, which behaves like dietary fibre. And green bananas are effective for diarrhea[11]. Bananas normalize the colon’s function to absorb large amounts of water for regular bowel movements. Bananas' benefit is due to their richness in pectin, which is a water-absorbent that gives fruits 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[2]. 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.

4 Energy source for exercisers

Bananas are an excellent alternative to sports drinks. The fruit is a source of antioxidants not found in sports drinks, fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6[14]. In addition, bananas have a much healthier blend of sugars.

5 Help to fight infections

The animal study revealed that eating bananas enhance protective functions of the body against infections[15].

6 Reduced risk of neurodegenerative disorders

Researchers at Cornell University [6] found that that fresh apples, banana, and orange can protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity and may reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

7 Sleep-promoting food

Banana contain the sleep-inducing amino acid L-tryptophan. Also, bananas increase the level of melatonin in the body [16].

8Cholesterol-lowering effect

Even a single banana meal produces noticeable beneficial effect on "bad" cholesterol[17]. It is suggested that the dietary fibre component in banana pulp is responsible for this effect[8]. The amount of fibre in banana is relatively constant during banana ripening.

9 Kidney health

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.

10 The healing peel

Banana's peel has potent antibacterial, immunostimulating[18], and UV protection properties[19].

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. Blanch N, Clifton PM, Keogh JB. Postprandial effects of potassium supplementation on vascular function and blood pressure: a randomised cross-over study.Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2014 Feb;24(2):148-54 PubMed
  • 2. Sabater-Molina M, Larqué E, Torrella F, Zamora S. Dietary fructooligosaccharides and potential benefits on health. J Physiol Biochem. 2009 Sep;65(3):315-28. PubMed
  • 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
  • 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
  • 10. Seth A, Mossavar-Rahmani Y, Kamensky V, Silver B, Lakshminarayan K, Prentice R, Van Horn L, Wassertheil-Smoller S. Potassium intake and risk of stroke in women with hypertension and nonhypertension in the Women's Health Initiative. Stroke. 2014 Oct;45(10):2874-80. PubMed
  • 11. Rabbani GH, Larson CP, Islam R, Saha UR, Kabir A. Green banana-supplemented diet in the home management of acute and prolonged diarrhoea in children: a community-based trial in rural Bangladesh. Trop Med Int Health. 2010 Oct;15(10):1132-9. PubMed
  • 12. Wang J, Huang JH, Cheng YF, Yang GM. Banana resistant starch and its effects on constipation model mice. J Med Food. 2014 Aug;17(8):902-7
  • 14. Nieman DC1 Gillitt ND, Henson DA, Sha W, Shanely RA, Knab AM, Cialdella-Kam L, Jin F. Bananas as an energy source during exercise: a metabolomics approach. PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37479. PubMed
  • 15. Matsuda K, Ohtsuka H, Ichijho T, Kawamura S. Effect of dietary administration of bananas on immunocytes in F1 hybrid calves. J Vet Med Sci. 2006 Jan;68(1):75-7. PubMed
  • 16. Johns NP, Johns J, Porasuphatana S, Plaimee P, Sae-Teaw M. Dietary intake of melatonin from tropical fruit altered urinary excretion of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin in healthy volunteers. J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Jan 30;61(4):913-9. PubMed
  • 17. Yin X, Quan J, Kanazawa T. Banana prevents plasma oxidative stress in healthy individuals. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2008 Jun;63(2):71-6. PubMed
  • 18. Rattanavichai W, Cheng W. Effects of hot-water extract of banana (Musa acuminata) fruit's peel on the antibacterial activity, and anti-hypothermal stress, immune responses and disease resistance of the giant freshwater prawn, Macrobrachium rosenbegii. Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2014 Aug;39(2):326-35. PubMed
  • 19. Saleh Mansour Salah. Antibacterial Activity and UV Protection Property of Some Egyptian Cotton Fabrics Treated with AqueousExtract from Banana Peel. International Journal of Clothing Science 2012, 1(1): 1-6

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.