The humble banana is a popular breakfast topping, handy fitness fuel and a favourite of many a fussy toddler. As well as being delicious and handy for a handbag, it turns out the nation’s favourite fruit is hiding a host of health benefits. From fighting cancer to boosting your mood, find out why you should eat more
1. Bananas are full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
A medium sized banana contains:
- 9% of your daily potassium
- 33% of your daily Vitamin B6
- 11% of your daily Vitamin C
- 8% of your daily magnesium
- 10% of your daily copper
2. Bananas are high in fibre, low in fat – great for weight loss
Looking to lose weight? Bananas are a great staple for dieters, as their high fibre content (3.1g), moderate calories (105) and low fat level (0.4g) makes them a filling, healthy snack. Under-ripe bananas in particular are full of resistant starch and pecan.
- Discover more high fibre foods
3. Bananas keep blood sugar stable
These little yellow wonders are packed with a fibre called pectin, as well as resistant starch (particularly in unripe bananas) which are thought to moderate blood sugar levels and slow down your stomach – making you feel fuller for longer. They are also soothing to the gastrointestinal tract because of their pectin, making them a great choice for a healthy gut.
4. Potassium is important for heart health
The high potassium levels in a banana can help keep your blood pressure low. A study found people whose diets are rich in potassium have a 27% lower risk of heart disease.
5. Potassium is also good for your kidneys
Potassium is the mineral that keeps on giving, as it also helps kidney function. A 13-year study of women found that those who ate bananas two to three times per week were a third less likely to develop kidney disease.
6. Bananas can help muscle cramps after exercise
There’s a reason you’ll often see athletes and gym goers fuelling themselves with bananas – as well as their many other benefits, they are believed to help reduce exercise-related muscle cramps and soreness.
7. Banana skins can help mosquito bites
Strange but true – rub the inside of a banana peel on an insect bite to calm irritation and itching.
8. Bananas are a prebiotic
Bananas are a prebiotic, that’s thought to help with exercise-induced asthma. Asthma UK have recommended a diet rich in prebiotics, including bananas, baked beans and yoghurts.
- Read more examples of prebiotic foods
9. Brown bananas could help fight cancer
According to a Japanese study, ripe bananas with dark brown patches produce a substance called Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) which has the ability to combat abnormal cells by stimulating the production of white blood cells. The riper the banana, the better it is at helping your white blood cells thanks to a boost in antioxidants.
10. Bananas can help with heartburn and acid reflux
Suffering from heartburn? Trying slowly eating a banana – they are low in acid and can help with digestion.
11. Bananas can help with depression
There’s one more reason to get your five-a-day, as bananas can give your mood a boost. They have high levels of tryptophan that your body converts to serotonin, aka the happy hormone!
12. Bananas are easy on stomach ulcers
If you suffer with stomach ulcers, bananas are a great way to get fruit into your diet, as their smooth texture helps to coat the stomach lining and protect it from irritation.
13. Bananas can help with constipation
If you’re having trouble going to the toilet, eating a diet packed with fibre could help get things moving, and bananas have plenty.
- Read more about the causes and cures for constipation
14. Eat bananas to help prevent anaemia
Bananas are a natural source of iron, which stimulates red blood cell and haemoglobin production and keeps your blood supply strong and healthy.
Is it dangerous to eat too many bananas?
While bananas are full of nutritional benefits, like most things, they shouldn’t be eaten to excess. Eating high numbers can result in headaches, as the amino acids in bananas can cause blood vessels to dilate, as well as potential tiredness because of their tryptophan. Because of their high sugar levels, excessive consumption can damage tooth enamel too.
The University of Maryland found that overeating could lead to hyperkalemia, a condition with muscle weakness and an irregular heartbeat, but seeing as you’d have to eat around 43 bananas in a short space of time, we won’t be losing any sleep over that risk!
But stick to around one or two per day and you’ll reap the benefits.