What is there not to love about bananas!? We at bananoos have had a life-long love affair with the wholly wholesome and deliciously delightful banana. In an average week, if such a thing existed, we can easily get through 25 or 30 at least. In Thailand, where we often enjoy a winter sojourn and bananas are incredibly cheap, the two of us may merrily munch midway between 10 to 15 every day!
There are so many reasons to fall in love with this tremendous treat that it is hard to limit ourselves to a mere 10, but we have to draw the line somewhere!
1. A Healthy Heart
Bananas fight against the effects of atherosclerosis (the disease responsible for the depositing of fatty materials on the inner walls of the arteries). Being so rich in potassium, a single normal-sized banana supplies 9% of our recommended daily allowance, they naturally reduce blood pressure, this allows blood to flow freely through the body to work its wonders on our internal organs. Bananas also protect against another common and very dangerous ailment: strokes. Potassium helps blood flow to the brain and reduces the risk of the blood clots that can cause strokes.
2. Strengthen Bones
Bananas can help your body in the vital process of absorbing the calcium and other vital nutrients that promote bone health. They are extremely rich in fructooligosaccharides, a compound that nourishes beneficial bacteria in your colon thus promoting the production of enzymes that help the body absorb bone strengthening nutrients such as calcium and magnesium.
Green bananas, otherwise known as plantains, are particularly good in this regard. Apart from fructooligosaccharides they are also contain SCFAs (Short Chain Fatty Acids) which play a fundamental role in strengthening bones. Your body has no enzymes to break down SCFAs, hence they pass through your small intestine and can then be consumed by the bacteria that line the walls of the large intestine. This greatly promotes the health of these cells thereby allowing much greater absorption of the nutrients that are so vital for bone health.
3. Promote Good Vision
Bananas are jam packed with antioxidants and carotenoids in addition to vital minerals that lend serious support to the health of your eyes. Many of the common threats to eyesight such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and night blindness have been shown to be mitigated to some extent by including bananas in your food intake.
Bananas contain carotenoids, the compound that is responsible for giving many brighter fruits and vegetables their colour and which research has shown is very good for eye health. Carotenoids also protect against other chronic diseases such as some cancers, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In particular, bananas are rich in provitamin A carotenoids and hence are a great food source for alleviating vitamin A deficiency which can be threatening to your eyesight.
4. They Contain A Whole Host of Vital Nutrients
Bananas can supply our bodies with many of the vital nutrients we need to stay healthy. To list but a few: a single banana may supply 9% of the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) of Potassium, 33% of Vitamin B6, 11% of Vitamin C, 8% of Magnesium, 10% of Copper and 14% of Maganese. This is an impressive list for such an apparently humble fruit as the banana!
5. Bananas Are Great If Your Are Feeling Nervous
Bananas are nature’s own healthy beta-blockers. As such, like beta-blockers themselves, they are great to consume if you are feeling nervous or anxious. Beta-blockers prevent adrenaline from binding to beta receptors in the brain and this results in both lowered blood pressure and pulse rate.
They also contain vitamin B6 which the body needs to synthesize its own serotonin. Serotonin is that neurotransmitter that the brain uses to promote relaxation. Bananas also provide tryptophan which the brain turns into serotonin and melatonin. And, as stated above, bananas are full of potassium and magnesium, both of which are natural nerve and muscle relaxants.
6. A Great Fruit To Consume If You Wish To Lose Weight
Bananas are a great food to consume if you are concerned about keeping your weight down. An average size banana only has around 90 calories. (in comparison, a small Mars bar (58g) has 260!). They also contain a lot of fiber and are easy to digest. Happily, there are no fats whatsoever in a banana thus making them an ideal food to eat if you are both a little peckish yet worried about your diet. Bananas are very filling, so consuming just a couple will stave off any hunger pangs (the roughage in bananas inhibits the release of ghrelin, otherwise known as the hunger hormone) and be giving you so many vital nutrients into the bargain. Now that’s a good deal!.
7. Bananas Fight The Ageing Process
Bananas are high in antioxidants, providing protection from free radicals and chronic disease. Nowadays, almost everyone is aware that antioxidants play a crucial role in preventing the signs of aging. Every cell in our bodies is exposed to oxidatve damage and, over time, can degenerate because of this. Such oxidation accelerates the aging process, perhaps most readily seen in the affect it has on our skin. Antioxidants fight this process but our bodies themselves cannot produce antioxidants hence we need to supply them from plant sources. Although many fruits and vegetables are sources of antioxidants, bananas are of the richest.
Surprisingly, bananas are a berry and berries are almost invaribaly rich sources of antioxidants. It contains not just one antioxidant but an assortment such as vitamin A, C and E, beta-carotene, lutein, selenium and zinc. We all want to stay young, healthy and vital as long as possible in life. Bananas are a wonderful gift from nature that can help us in this quest.
8. Bananas Help Remove Heavy Metals From The Body
In this day and age more or less everyone suffers exposure to heavy metals from such things as vaccines, cosmetics, mercury fillings in teeth and even our sometimes in our food water supplies. Heavy metals can accumulate in the body over time and, if not eliminated, can result in damaged organs and a much weaker immune system. They are also linked with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders. Because they are so rich in pectin, bananas aid digestion and help to gently chelate toxins and heavy metals from the body. This is a vital function in today’s world if we wish to maintain long-term health.
Interestingly, it has recently been discovered that banana peels can be used to purify drinking water that has been contaminated with heavy metals like copper and lead. Scientists in Brazil found that when the peel is dried for a week before being ground up and added to water it can absorb up to 97% of the metals in just one hour. This is impressive indeed!
9. Bananas Are A Great Accompaniment When You Exercise
Bananas can assist us when we exercise and increase our performance throughout the whole training process. According to one 2012 study, eating half a banana every quarter of an hour during exercise is at least as effectve as consuming comparable amounts of sports drinks. Their broad range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients also help the athlete in sustaining a high level of performance.
They are also a good source of energy as each banana contains, on average, around 30 grams of carbohydrates, thus supplying fuel and supporting muscle activity. Carbs are also essential for maintainance of the nervous system and thus their consumption whilst active can help keep the mind responsive and the reflexes sharp.
10. Bananas Are Incredibly Tasty!
Perhaps the best reason of all…we just love the taste of bananas! So much so in fact that we felt the need to investigate if it was actually possible to overdose on them. At the time Emma was teaching tai chi in Thailand and we were living in a small cottage about a mile from the bridge over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi. Each morning we would be consuming a large bunch of the compact and seeded variety that is to be readily found in those parts. Some days, we would even buy a few more on the way into town to consume whilst we exercised! We were eating so many bananas in fact that we became concerned that we may be overdosing on them.
What we discovered is that it is actually possible to eat too many bananas but the numbers involved would be so huge as to render it practically impossible. Eating our regular 10 to 15 a day was nowhere near a level that could cause difficulties. This was good news for us and meant we could healthily and happily continue to consume our favourite fruit!
To be honest, it has been hard for us to restrict ourselves to a mere 10 reasons to love this fabulous fruit; we could easily add 10, 20 or even 30 more. The bottom line is that bananas in whatever form are a wonderful addition to your daily intake of food and should be enjoyed whenever possible.
There you have it, a whole bunch of reasons to go bananoos for bananas!