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Musa, which is the scientific name for bananas, is a tropical fruit that’s grown in hot climates. Rife with vitamins and minerals, regular consumption of bananas may have positive health benefits. Three of the most important components of bananas, which you’ll see noted many times herein, are dietary fiber, magnesium, and potassium. These three nutrients are responsible for many of the health benefits you’ll see reviewed here. Read on to see the many reasons you should consider adding bananas as a regular part of your diet.
Important Note: All of the information reported here is based on the most current scientific research at the time of publication. Be mindful of new studies as they become available.
Rich In Nutrients
Bananas contain fiber, antioxidants, and a bevy of beneficial vitamins. A wonderful way to start your morning or enjoy a snack during the day, bananas fuel your body. A single banana has just over 100 calories, very little protein, and zero fat. Furthermore, a single banana is rich in fiber, folate, niacin, copper, and magnesium. The star nutrients in bananas are potassium and vitamin C which contain 10% and 12% of one’s daily recommended value respectively. Moreover, bananas are made up of approximately 75% water so they’re very hydrating. Finally, although bananas are heavy on carbohydrates, they’re the type of carbohydrates that equate to the banana’s fiber content.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. There’s no arguing about the nutrient composition of bananas. Packed with essential vitamins and antioxidants, they’re a wonderful fruit to incorporate into your diet.
Supports Healthy Digestion
Dietary fiber has been linked to digestive health for many moons. One medium-sized banana contains about 3 grams of fiber which is about 10 percent of an adult’s daily recommended intake. Additionally, bananas are made up of resistant starch which also acts like fiber and a prebiotic at the same time. The prebiotic function of bananas feeds the good bacteria in your gut, a facet that is also beneficial to gut health and digestion. Finally, the pectin in bananas helps to soften stool, making bowel movements more comfortable. Taken together, dietary fiber, resistant starch, and pectin each play a part in improved digestive health.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. It’s long been common knowledge that bananas are integral to digestive health. There are hundreds of studies that support this claim.
Aids In Weight Loss
One of the best ways that bananas can aid in weight loss is by giving you a longer feeling of fullness with fewer calories and less fat than sugary sweets and junk food. And although there aren’t studies on this phenomenon specific to bananas, research does show that fruits and vegetables high in fiber will give you a feeling of fullness for longer; as has already been noted, bananas are high in fiber which is why they fill you up. Although there are no studies that investigate how banana composition may further help with weight loss and maintenance, bananas are considered a diet-friendly food. With only around 100 calories per medium-sized banana, this fruit is both satiating and nutritious.
General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. It’s too bad there aren’t actual studies to support the claim that bananas aid in weight loss. However, anyone who’s ever eaten a banana can attest to the fullness they create; logically, one could see how choosing bananas over refined sugars is a better weight-loss choice than not.
Supports Heart Health
Some studies show that eating bananas regularly is integral to heart health. Bananas are fraught with potassium, a mineral essential to regulating blood pressure and a healthy heart. In fact, studies have confirmed that people who ingest enough potassium daily have a nearly 30% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, bananas are rich in magnesium another important mineral to heart health. Research indicates that a lack of adequate magnesium is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Packed with many of the minerals associated with heart health, bananas are a wonderful addition to a heart-conscious diet.
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. Although some of the studies linking bananas to heart health are outdated, there’s a breadth of such studies touting the benefits of bananas in this area.
Maintains Kidney Health
As important as potassium is to heart health and blood pressure regulation, it is kidney health. Well-maintained blood pressure, which is supported by the potassium in bananas, is essential to kidney health. When blood pressure is high, the arteries leading in and out of the kidneys are narrowed, prohibiting them from working properly. A few published scientific studies have linked adequate potassium intake to well-managed blood pressure and the slowing of kidney disease.
General Consensus: 2.5/5 and here is why. Although many studies link potassium, ever-present in bananas, to improve kidney health, other studies indicate that if you’re suffering from late-stage kidney disease, too much potassium can be a problem. If you currently have kidney disease, your best bet is to speak with your doctor about your potassium intake.
Enhances Exercise Recovery
Bananas have primarily been lauded as an excellent fruit for athletes. Besides the easily digestible carbohydrates, the magnesium and potassium in bananas act as electrolytes; electrolytes are integral to maintaining bodily fluids which are especially important during exercise. In scientific theory, by consuming a banana following a workout, the potassium and magnesium will replenish your body and ease muscle soreness. Although there’s not a ton of research connecting bananas specifically to exercise, those studies that do exist make a positive correlation between the two.
General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. Undoubtedly, potassium and magnesium contribute to replenishing your fluids after exercise, however, whether or not a banana can singularly do so is not certain. More research is warranted.
Improves Energy Levels
Although it’s true that all food, to some extent, gives your body energy, bananas are a nutritious, vitamin-dense source of energy. While some foods give your body a quick jolt of energy, others, healthier ones, give your body sustained energy. Enter the banana. Bananas are one of the quickest ways to manifest sustained energy. A great source of natural sugar and rich in the fibers that slow the digestion of those natural sugars, bananas deliver lasting, nutritious energy. One important study even showed that eating a banana before a long workout improved endurance just as well as pre-workout, energy drinks.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. There’s no doubt that bananas contain all the necessary nutrients, natural sugars, and healthy carbohydrates to give you sustained energy.
Helps Detoxify Your Body
Bananas are rich in pectin, a starchy fiber known to have natural detoxifying properties. Pectin acts incredibly; it literally adheres to the toxic compounds in your body and carries them out of your system. Pectin can remove mercury from your blood, limit fat absorption, and even regulate blood sugar. Interestingly, the riper the banana the more water-soluble the pectin and in turn the more detoxifying.
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. Although science supports the claim that pectin itself is detoxifying, there are just too few studies specifically about bananas and their ability to detoxify.
Unlikely Benefits: Further Research Needed
Unripe Bananas Improve Insulin Sensitivity
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. Even though new research is studying the possibility of this claim, there’s no conclusive information suggesting unripe bananas improve insulin sensitivity…yet. Be on the lookout.
Reduces Anxiety and Stress
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. While some of the B vitamins in bananas are essential to serotonin development, there aren’t many studies linking bananas to the reduction of stress and anxiety in humans.