- Bananas have many benefits for your health due to their high potassium and fiber content.
- Potassium helps balance the sodium levels in your body, which regulates blood pressure and can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Eating bananas can also help with weight loss because they contain pectin and resistant starch, which can help you feel full for longer.
- Visit the Insiders Health Reference Library for more advice.
Bananas have long been a packed lunch and a staple for brown bag. And it̵
Here are five health benefits of eating bananas.
Bananas are very nutritious
A single medium banana offers 110 calories with zero fat. It also provides the following:
- Protein: 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 28 grams
- Sugar: 15 grams (naturally occurring)
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Potassium: 450 mg
- Magnesium: 32 mg
- Vitamin C: 10.3 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.4 mg
“Bananas are well known for their potassium content, but there are also other vitamins and minerals that deserve some attention. The banana provides a significant source of B6 and fiber, which play important roles in important functions in the body such as reducing cholesterol and balancing mood,” “says Lisa Richards, a Certified Nutrition Consultant.
In fact, just one banana can give you 9% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of potassium and 8% of magnesium. In terms of vitamin C, a banana may not be the first food that pops into your mind. But the fruit provides about 11% of your RDI.
Bananas can help regulate blood sugar
The idea that people with prediabetes or diabetes should avoid eating sweet fruits is a myth as long as you stay within your carbohydrate needs. This is about half of a Cavendish, which is the most ubiquitous type of banana.
In fact, bananas that contain pectin and resistant starch may help lower blood sugar. Richards says that these soluble fibers work together by increasing the feeling of satiety, preventing overeating and slowing down the rate of digestion.
In addition, the glycemic index (GI) of a banana is 30 to 60 depending on maturity. The glycemic index measures how carbohydrates in foods change blood sugar from a scale of 0 to 100. “The lower the GI, the less likely the food will cause a rapid increase,” Richards says. For a lower GI, eat greener fruits.
“The key is to pair the carbohydrate source with protein and fat. Otherwise, your blood sugar will rise and then go down,” says Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RDN, the lead dietitian at Miami’s Essence Nutrition. She suggests combining tall carb bananas with eggs, yogurt or peanut butter.
Bananas can support heart health
Potassium is a double threat. While most people think of it as a mineral, it also acts as an electrolyte. Electrolytes help regulate muscle contraction. “Because the heart is a muscle,” says Moreno, “potassium and heart health are very closely linked.”
Potassium can also help balance sodium levels. Potassium, which monitors fluid inside the cells, has a push-pull relationship with sodium, which controls the fluid outside the cells. Too little potassium and too much sodium means more fluid and a higher blood volume in the bloodstream. This increases blood pressure with an additional risk of heart attack and stroke.
A review from 2017 showed that potassium supplements reduced blood pressure for people with hypertension or high blood pressure. Due to the research on potassium and high blood pressure, the FDA has approved the following health claims: “Diets that contain foods that are a good source of potassium and low in sodium can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.” The analysis noted that bananas are particularly high in potassium.
Bananas can help with weight loss
Moreno says the banana has become “very stigmatized in the diet culture” because of its carbohydrate content. “People make them bad. But we do not have weight problems because of bananas.”
In fact, the fruit can actually help you feel fuller, faster. The combination of pectin and resistant starch delays emptying the stomach, causing you to eat fewer calories, Richards says.
Green bananas are better for this because when a banana ripens or ages, it loses pectin. The greener the banana is, the more resistant starch it contains. When you eat them on a balanced diet, Moreno says, carbohydrates help you produce more serotonin, which helps regulate your metabolism and energy levels. Keep in mind, however, that green bananas have higher fiber and can cause gas, bloating and constipation.
These satiety and weight stabilizing findings were confirmed in a 2019 review. It concluded that green bananas, whether consumed as fresh fruit pulp, cooked or dried and pounded into flour to be used as a baking product, make you feel fuller. Because of their high fiber content, the researchers also theorized that green bananas could help prevent or cure bowel disease, reduce blood cholesterol, and help prevent bowel cancer.
Bananas are good for digestive health
When it comes to gut health, both give bananas and take them away. Greener or greener bananas can promote constipation, “due to the higher amount of resistant starch and pectin,” says Richards, both of which slow down your stomach’s digestive process.
Still, ripe bananas can help you in the bathroom if you have problems in that arena. “Less resistant starch and more fiber can move the stool,” Moreno says. The fiber is soluble and draws in water, making stools easier to pass.
Bananas also contain insoluble fiber: The insoluble fiber absorbs and processes nutrients, while the soluble fiber creates soft bulk for the body to remove toxins from the digestive system.
However, too many ripe bananas can then cause diarrhea, a common complaint in babies who often start eating with very ripe mashed bananas.
While eating too many bananas can cause constipation or diarrhea, depending on their degree of maturity, you can safely eat bananas. Not only do bananas help with intestinal health, they can also support your efforts with weight loss, promote heart health and reduce your blood sugar.