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Apples aren’t the only fruit with the power to keep doctors away—eating a banana a day is a delicious way to boost your energy and get essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, there are more health benefits of bananas than you probably realize.
Before we get into what bananas offer, let’s look at some facts: Bananas, which are part of the berry family, are believed to have been cultivated as far back as 8,000 BCE in Southeast Asia and Africa. Portuguese sailors brought the fruit back home with them after their travels to Africa in the early 1400s and it worked its way through the Caribbean, South America, and, finally, North America in the 1800s.
Until 1836, humans knew of and ate only green and red bananas, which are bitter in taste and are cooked before being eaten, until Jamaican chef Jean Francois Poujot discovered a mutant strain on his plantation that was sweet and yellow. Today, yellow bananas are one of the most cultivated fruits in the world.
If you haven’t eaten one in a while, here are seven benefits of bananas that will convince you to make them a part of your daily diet.
#1 Bananas are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals.
Not only are bananas low in calories and naturally free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium, they’re packed with a variety of nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamins C and A. Because bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium, they can help restore your body’s levels of glycogen, which aids in rebuilding damaged muscles, making them a great snack after a rigorous workout.
#2 They can lower your blood pressure.
According to the FDA, foods that are good sources of potassium and are low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Bananas just so happen to fit the bill. A single banana contains around 467 milligrams of potassium, which is over 13 percent of the daily recommended amount. For more information about the benefits of potassium, check out our article “Potassium Benefits Your Heart, Bones, and More.”
#3 Bananas are good for your digestive system.
A single banana contains about three grams of fiber, which helps your body digest food more easily and improves colon health. Fiber is also important for cancer prevention, heart health, and blood sugar stabilization. For information about the importance of fiber, check out our article “Why is Fiber Important? Lower Cholesterol, Prevent Disease, and Live Longer by Eating More Fiber.”
#4 They can help reduce your sugar cravings.
Not only are bananas a good source of fiber, which helps keep you full, they also contain pectin, known to stabilize blood sugar levels. Bananas are also considered to be low-glycemic, which means that they won’t produce any spikes in your blood sugar, which can cause sugar cravings.
#5 Bananas can help ease the symptoms of depression.
Bananas are a good source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid and precursor to the brain neurotransmitter serotonin. A lack of serotonin is one of the main causes of depression. Luckily, tryptophan can convert into serotonin through a complex chemical process. For more information about tryptophan, check out our article “Tryptophan Foods and Tryptophan Supplements: How they Help Your Health.”
#6 They can help prevent cancer.
Because bananas are a good source of vitamin C, they can help prevent cancer. Vitamin C fights off oxidative damage caused by free radicals, which is one of the main causes of cancer, particularly leukemia in young children. In addition, foods high in fiber are associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.
#7 They’re a good choice for diabetics.
As we mentioned earlier, bananas are a good source of fiber, which is good news for diabetics. According to studies, those with type 1 diabetes who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels, while type 2 diabetics experience improvements in blood sugar, insulin, and lipid levels.
When to Avoid Bananas
While bananas are generally safe and healthy for most people, there are a small number of people who need to limit or avoid consuming bananas.
If you’re allergic to latex, there’s a chance to that you’re also allergic to bananas. If you experience any itching, hives, swelling, or trouble breathing after eating a banana, consult your doctor to be tested for a possible allergy.
And while diabetics may be able to enjoy the health benefits of bananas, doctors recommend they be eaten in moderation because they’re high in sugar and carbohydrates.
Too much potassium could also cause serious health issues, so if you’re taking beta blockers or you have kidney disease, consult with your doctor before making bananas a part of your daily diet.