What’s in a Banana?

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apples may be nutritious but not as nutritious as a banana. Bananas have twice more carbohydrates as an apple, five times as much Vitamin A and iron and thrice as much phosphorus. Bananas, too, are rich in potassium and natural sugars, so it’s not surprising that the nutritional benefits, too, are endless.

Once considered exotic, bananas are more accessible and cheaper compared to other fruits, and its nutritional benefits are far greater than other fruits. Here are some nutrients you can get from bananas and the benefits they bring:

1. Bananas are rich in potassium which can reduce the risk of heart diseases and blood pressure. Potassium is also vital for muscle contraction and proper function of the heart and the nervous system. The recommended daily intake of potassium is 3500 mg and you get all this by simply eating a banana.

With potassium, bananas also help in strengthening our body’s bones. A typical American diet can have excessive sodium intake which causes lots of calcium to be excreted thru urine. Loss of calcium negatively affects blood clotting and the general health of our bones. The potassium found in bananas neutralizes the high amounts of sodium in one’s diet, which retains healthy amounts of calcium in the body.

Potassium from bananas also supply the body with electrolytes that get easily depleted if you’re suffering from constipation or diarrhea.  Research has also proved that potassium in bananas help to increase their mental alertness and boost brain power.
2. Bananas are enriched with a certain type of fiber that helps in regulating the bowel functions.It is also rich in pectin, a natural sugar that will help normalize the digestive tract. The best solution to constipation or diarrhea is eating a banana a day.
4. Bananas have trytophan acids – the same chemicals present in turkey – that could lift your spirits. This substance contains a level of protein that helps the mind relax and will make you feel happier and therefore reduce depression.
5. Bananas contain probiotic bacteria that helps in absorbing calcium, which as we all know, is essential for healthy bones. The same helpful bacteria increases the body’s digestive ability. Green bananas are high of this bacterium.
6. Bananas are also rich in iron and promotes high hemoglobin count in the blood. High hemoglobin count decreases the risk for anemia.

7. Bananas are rich in B vitamins that can affect your moods and well being. Suffering from menstrual cramps? Instead of popping a pain pill, eat a banana. The Vitamin B6 in a banana will help regulate the blood glucose levels and can help balance your overall mood and therefore reduce menstrual pains.

The B6 in bananas also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent that can decrease the chances of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and obesity. It also helps in protecting the body from infection by maintaining the lymphoid glands that produces  healthy white blood cells. Vitamin B6 also plays an important part  in cell formation and proper nervous system functions. The same B vitamins have also been proven by research to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms among smokers.

8. Bananas possess protease inhibitors, a substance that breaks down bacteria in the stomach that cause ulcers.Eating a raw banana reduces irritation in the stomach and reduces the effect of over acidity. The same protease inhibitors also obstruct the replication of certain cells and viruses, including HIV.

So, grab a banana now and enjoy its many benefits.

Don’t underestimate the benefits of this simple fruit.(Photo credit: Fernando Stankuns)

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