Reasons you should include bananas in your diet

Talk about a nutritional powerhouse, packed with energy-giving carbohydrates, heart-healthy potassium, blood-sugar-maintaining vitamin B6, mood-improving serotonin, much needed dietary fibre and moisturizing skin, a BANANA is an epitome of health. There are so many health benefits of taking bananas but I have been able to put together this little to jumpstart the love for bananas in you (I actually think the fresh, appealing, bright yellow colour alone should make you fall in love). Let's see what those fingers of banana have in store for you. 1. Increased Energy Sports drinks, energy bars and electrolyte gels are extremely popular nowadays, however you often see professional athletes eating bananas just before and even during their sports. Bananas make a great work snack to combat that mid-afternoon slump. They’re a good choice for weight loss too - a small banana contains about 100 calories and will satisfy your sweet cravings. Replacing candy bars and other junk foods with bananas is a helpful step towards losing weight. Not only will your body thank you for the vitamin and mineral boost but the energy release will be much more consistent.   2. Cure for Ulcers & Heartburn Bananas are a known cure for heartburn. They help balance your stomach’s pH and enhance the protective mucus layer, relieving pain. The fiber content also moves food through your digestive tract faster - preventing reflux. Bananas are a good dietary source of potassium and magnesium, two nutrients that are essential for heart health. It is fairly rich in fiber and resistant starch, which may feed the friendly gut bacteria and help protect against colon cancer. Bananas contain nutrients that can help moderate blood sugar levels after meals. They may also reduce appetite by slowing stomach emptying. Eating bananas regularly may help protect against stomach ulcers. Over the long term, bananas thicken the protective mucus barrier in the stomach, preventing damage from hydrochloric acid. Bananas also contain protease inhibitors that help eliminate stomach bacteria which can cause stomach ulcers. 3. Vitamin B6 Bananas are particularly high in vitamin B6. This vitamin is important for creating hemoglobin for healthy blood. Vitamin B6 is also involved in maintaining proper blood sugar levels, synthesizing and breaking down amino acids and producing antibodies for a stronger immune response in your body. Just one banana has a full fifth of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B6. (Well, they taste much better than vitamin pills too!) 4. Improved Digestion Most of us don’t get nearly enough fiber in our diets. Fiber is needed to help food travel smoothly through the digestive tract. It also improves your bowel movements. Bananas are a great source of dietary fiber. A couple of bananas is a better choice than taking a laxative to treat occasional constipation. Bananas contain nutrients that can help moderate blood sugar levels after meals. They may also reduce appetite by slowing stomach emptying. Turning to another important element of digestion, bananas are rich in fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS). FOS is a prebiotic - i.e. it feeds the important “friendly” bacteria that live in your digestive tract. These bacteria help us absorb nutrients more efficiently. 5. Skin Conditions Even the banana’s skin has its uses. It is great for treating skin conditions like psoriasis and acne. Rubbing the freshly peeled inside of the banana skin gently over the affected area and leaving the residue to be absorbed helps a lot. The fatty acid content of the banana skin helps relieve a variety of skin conditions, as well as having a strong moisturising effect. In the case of psoriasis you may notice some further reddening initially, but this should improve after a few days of use. Patch test on a small area if you have any concerns. It usually takes several weeks to see the full benefit from this treatment. Banana peel treatments are a traditional remedy to heal warts. Rub a small piece of banana peel over the wart and then tightly tape it in place. Leave it overnight and repeat this process for at least a week or until the wart disappears. 6. Improves Mood and Reduces Stress Bananas are a good source of the amino acid tryptophan which your body converts to serotonin. Amongst many other things, proper serotonin levels help improve your mood, reduce stress and enhance your general outlook and happiness levels. It also helps regulate your sleep patterns. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid because the only way your body gets it is through your diet. Bananas, while certainly not the highest source out there, are one of the easiest ways to get a little more tryptophan. Another reason why bananas make such a great snack for when you’re feeling stressed out at work. 7. Hangover Cure (Here, we are) Bananas are a great choice for mornings when you’ve overdone it a bit the night before. A couple of bananas blended with ice, berries and coconut milk or cow’s milk makes a really good hangover recovery drink. Just about all of the health benefits we’ve discussed come into play here. Of course the better solution is not to drink so much the night before. But just in case, it’s good to have some bananas around for the next morning. Health risks associated with bananas 1. When taken moderately, there are no significant side effects associated with eating bananas. However, eating the fruits in excess may trigger headaches and sleepiness. The headaches are caused by the amino acids present in bananas that dilate blood vessels. Overripe bananas contain more of these amino acids than other bananas. Bananas can also contribute to sleepiness when eaten in excess due to the high amount of tryptophan found in them. Magnesium also relaxes the muscles — another sometimes-benefit, sometimes-risk. 2. Bananas are a sugary fruit, so eating too many and not maintaining proper dental hygiene practices can lead to tooth decay. They also do not contain enough fat or protein to be a healthy meal on their own, or an effective post-workout snack. 3. The University of Maryland Medical Center reported that potassium overconsumption can lead to hyperkalemia, which is characterized by muscle weakness, temporary paralysis and an irregular heartbeat. It can have serious consequences, but you would have to eat about 43 bananas in a short time for any symptoms of hyperkalemia to occur. 4. Consuming more than 500 milligrams of vitamin B6 daily can possibly lead to nerve damage in the arms and legs, according to research. You would have to eat thousands of bananas to reach that level of vitamin B6 (Never mind, I doubt you can do that irrespective of how much you love bananas). Making bananas into smoothies and fruit drinks can enhance the fun in eating bananas. But remember, moderation is key. Munch on!


Writer at The Healthwise...daily health tips