Bananas: 11 Evidence-Based Health Benefits

Bananas are native to Southeast Asia but now grow in many warm climates around the world.

They’re an excellent choice if you’re interested in adding more healthy fruits to your diet.

Bananas contain fiber and many beneficial nutrients, including:

Here are 11 science-based health benefits of bananas.

Bananas contain a fair amount of carbs, water, fiber, and antioxidants but little protein and no fat.

One medium banana contains:

  • Calories: 112
  • Fat: 0 grams (g)
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Carbs: 29 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Vitamin C: 12% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Riboflavin: 7% of the DV
  • Folate: 6% of the DV
  • Niacin: 5% of the DV
  • Copper: 11% of the DV
  • Potassium: 10% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 8% of the DV

Bananas are rich in soluble fiber. During digestion, soluble fiber dissolves in liquid to form a gel. This may also contribute to a banana’s sponge-like texture.

Unripe (green) bananas also contain resistant starch, a type of fiber that your body does not digest.

Together, these two types of fiber may help moderate your blood sugar levels after meals and regulate your appetite by slowing the emptying of your stomach.

This means that despite their higher carb content, bananas may not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels in people who don’t have diabetes.

However, for those who have diabetes, eating a large portion in one sitting may cause blood sugar levels to rise too high, so it’s best to stick to one banana at a time.

Dietary fiber has been linked to many health benefits, including improved digestion.

Resistant starch, the type of fiber found in unripe bananas, is a prebiotic. Prebiotics escape digestion and end up in your large intestine, where they become food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut (probiotics).

What’s more, pectin — a fiber found in both ripe and unripe bananas — may help prevent constipation and soften stools.

Some test-tube studies even suggest that pectin may help protect against colon cancer, although further research in humans is needed to learn more about this possible benefit.

No study has directly investigated the effects of bananas on weight loss. However, bananas have several attributes that could make them a weight-loss-friendly food.

Bananas have relatively few calories — just over 100 calories in an average banana — but are nutritious and filling.

They’re also packed with dietary fiber and resistant starch, which may help you feel full longer and therefore reduce the frequency and size of your meals.

If you’d like to include unripe bananas in your diet, try using them as you’d use plantains.

Potassium is a mineral that’s vital for heart health and especially for blood pressure management. However, few people get enough potassium in their diet.

Bananas are a great source of potassium, with a medium banana providing 10% of the DV.

A potassium-rich diet could help lower your blood pressure, reducing your risk of hypertension. A 2017 study in mice also suggests that potassium may lower the risk of heart disease by 27%.

Additionally, bananas contain 8% of the DV for magnesium, another important mineral for heart health.

Magnesium deficiency (hypomagnesemia) may be linked to an increased risk of heart disease, elevated blood pressure, and high levels of fats in the blood. Therefore, it’s essential to get enough of this mineral from either your diet or supplements.

Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of dietary antioxidants, and bananas are no exception.

They contain several types of potent antioxidants, including flavonoids and amines. These antioxidants are linked to many health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease and macular degeneration.

Antioxidants help prevent oxidative damage to your cells caused by free radicals. If you do not consume enough antioxidants, free radicals can build up over time and cause harm if their levels become high enough in your body.

The soluble fiber in bananas may help keep you full by adding bulk to your digestive system and slowing digestion.

Additionally, bananas are relatively low in calories for their size.

Combined, the low calorie and high fiber content of bananas make them a more filling snack than some other options, such as processed or sugary boxed snacks.

Protein is filling, but bananas are low in this macronutrient. For a hunger-reducing snack, you can try eating a sliced banana with a protein-rich food such as Greek yogurt or blending a banana into a protein shake.

Insulin resistance is a significant risk factor in several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes.

Studies suggest that regularly eating resistant starch may improve insulin sensitivity, making your body more responsive to the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin.

But more research is needed to investigate how the resistant starch in bananas might affect insulin sensitivity.

Potassium is vital for healthy kidney function and blood pressure regulation.

As a great dietary source of potassium, bananas could be especially beneficial for keeping your kidneys healthy.

A 2019 study that included more than 5,000 people with early stage chronic kidney disease linked potassium with lower blood pressure and a slower progression of kidney disease.

However, some people who have late stage kidney disease or are undergoing dialysis need to restrict their potassium intake. If you fall into one of these categories, speak with a healthcare professional before increasing your potassium intake.

Bananas are sometimes referred to as the perfect food for athletes. This is largely due to their content of easily digested carbs along with potassium and magnesium, which act as electrolytes.

You lose electrolytes through your sweat during vigorous exercise. Resupplying your body with potassium and magnesium after sweating may reduce exercise-related muscle cramps and soreness.

Specific research on the effects of bananas on exercise performance, cramping, and exercise recovery is lacking. But bananas can provide excellent nutrition before, during, and after exercise.

Bananas are not only healthy and tasty but also convenient.

They make a great addition to yogurt, cereal, or smoothies, and they work well as a topping for whole grain toast with peanut butter. You can even use them in place of sugar in your baking and cooking.

Bananas are also easy to transport and are usually well tolerated and easily digested. All you need to do is peel them and you’re good to go.

Is it good to eat a banana every day?

Bananas are healthy, delicious, and versatile fruits. They’re full of nutrients that could help prevent constipation, improve digestive and gut health, and promote recovery from intense activity.

Eating one banana per day will provide:

  • 12% of the DV for vitamin C
  • 10% of the DV for potassium
  • 8% of the DV for magnesium

Eating one banana per day is a healthy option. But since most of the calories in bananas come from carbs, eating too many bananas may result in high sugar intake, which could lead to high blood pressure.

What are the benefits of eating a banana?

Bananas are a nutritious, low calorie fruit that may help:

  • improve blood sugar levels
  • prevent constipation
  • improve gut, kidney, and heart health
  • aid in weight loss
  • keep you feeling full
  • support post-exercise recovery

What is the best time to eat bananas?

Bananas are a common breakfast food because they are nutritious, filling, and easy to eat.

However, since bananas are high in carbs, they may increase blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Pairing a banana with a food that’s high in protein and fat, such as Greek yogurt, may be more beneficial.

Bananas are a popular fruit with many potential health benefits.

They may improve your digestion and heart health, thanks to their fiber and antioxidant content. Plus, they may support weight loss because they’re relatively low in calories, nutrient-dense, and filling.

Both ripe (yellow) bananas and unripe (green) bananas can satisfy your sweet tooth and help keep you healthy.

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