Fruits and vegetables have become a common prescription and recommendation for almost every disease condition due to their nutritional value and health benefits that are derived from these ‘natural’ foods. The Banana tree as it is commonly called is actually a herbaceous plant since it never forms a woody stem and it produces the banana fruit.
Banana fruits are widely eaten in many parts of the world. This is as a result of their numerous health importance as would be discussed in this article. Bananas are eaten as riped, raw, cooked, and even as milkshakes for desserts. It helps in treating many ailments related to your body. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eating at least 400g of banana a day .
Some of the extensively studied and well-documented health benefits of bananas are;
1. Source of essential vitamins and minerals required by the body
Bananas serve as excellent sources of minerals (potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium) and vitamins . Potassium is essential for normal electrical activity in the muscles (heart, skeletal and smooth) and brain. Studies have shown that having normal plasma potassium levels keeps blood pressure at optimum level and also reduces the risk of stroke.
A potassium-rich diet helps lower blood pressure [2,3, 7]. It has been found that 23% of the daily potassium can be obtained from eating a single banana OR a medium-sized banana provides about 350 mg of potassium . Vitamins that have been identified in bananas include vitamins A, B6, C, and D .
The relevance of these vitamins can not be overemphasized as we need them daily to function. Calcium and vitamin D are essentially required for strong bone and teeth formation [2,4].
Bananas contain some bioactive compounds such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and vitamin C that exhibit antioxidant properties. Hence, just by eating bananas, one can prevent the production and accumulation of free radicals that can result in certain diseases such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, age-related macular degeneration, and certain types of cancer [4, 5, 6].
2. Relief of constipation and ulcer pain
Bananas have shown significant benefits in gastrointestinal disorders such as constipation and relief of ulcer pain. Bananas have some mild laxative effects and hence can prevent as well as relieve constipation situations especially in children . They contain Fibre that increases stool bulk to facilitate stool passage.
Bananas promote ulcer healing and have been shown to have acid-neutralizing properties and hence can safely be used in patients with peptic ulcer disease . It has been shown that bananas allow a thicker mucus barrier against stomach acids thus helping to relieve pain associated with stomach ulcers .
Another good fruit known to prevent constipation is the dates fruit.
3. A good source of energy for the body
Bananas serve as a very good source of energy for the human body. Approximately 116 kilocalories of energy are gained from eating 100 grams of bananas . This implies that bananas can be eaten as a supplementary source of energy but, however, it has less protein [2,4].
4. Good for diabetics (low glycemic index)
Bananas contain pectin and resistant starch that regulate blood sugar levels. These substances reduce appetite by slowing gastric emptying and hence moderating blood sugar levels. Thus, banana is considered to be a low to medium glycemic index food .
5. Use for relieving diarrhea
Bananas help relieve diarrhea. If you are suffering from diarrhea, you can use raw bananas. Boil the raw banana, mash it and add a pinch of salt and butter. Eat it to get relief from diarrhea. This is considered to be one of the most important health benefits of raw bananas.
To increase the effectiveness of bananas for diarrhea, you can puree a small amount of ripe banana and add a teaspoon of honey to it. Apply this spread to a slice of well-done toast as the toast will help to absorb excess fluids within the gastrointestinal tract as well as provide bulk to the stools which helps to reduce the severity of diarrhea .
6. Good for weight loss regimen
Bananas can be added to the diet when planning to lose weight. Bananas may be one of the best fruits to eat when attempting to lose weight. They are full of nutrients for increased energy and vitality. Bananas are also relatively low in calories and fat, plus they have a high water content and potassium levels. A diet high in potassium foods and lower in sodium-loaded processed foods can help reduce water weight .
The above are the top 6 health benefits of bananas. So whether you are just taking bananas or taking them for a specific reason, you will still enjoy these health benefits.
Bananas contain some bioactive compounds such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and vitamin C that exhibit antioxidant properties.
Hence, just by eating bananas, one can prevent the production and accumulation of free radicals that can result in certain diseases such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, age-related macular degeneration, and certain types of cancer [4, 5, 6]