Packed with fiber and vitamins, bananas have many health benefits for the body. They’re a tasty and popular ingredient for nutritious smoothies.
Table of Contents
What Are Bananas?
Bananas are tropical fruits native to Southeast Asia. They grow in bunches on large plants similar to trees.
The fruit grows with a green peel. As it ripens, it turns yellow. The peel is very thick and not edible.
When blended into smoothies, bananas add a sweet flavor and creamy texture. They can be enjoyed fresh or frozen.
RELATED: How to Freeze Bananas Properly
12 Benefits of Eating Bananas
1. Controls Blood Cholesterol
Thanks to their high content of soluble fiber, bananas are great for promoting healthy cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber is a type of carbohydrate that dissolves in water in the gut.
It works by attaching to extra cholesterol. Together, the fiber and cholesterol leave the body via the stool, reducing cholesterol in the blood.
Since high blood cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease, it’s important to manage. Otherwise, excess cholesterol can build up in the blood vessels and reduce blood flow.
Eating high-fiber fruits, including bananas, is a natural way to keep your cholesterol in check.
2. Manages Blood Pressure
Bananas are a good source of potassium, a mineral that’s needed for maintaining healthy blood pressure.
Potassium works by balancing sodium, another mineral that can increase blood pressure.
If blood pressure gets too high, it can lead to hypertension. This happens when blood pumps too forcefully against your vessels.
Over time, this can damage your heart and cause heart problems, including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. But eating high-potassium foods like bananas may help reduce the risk.
3. Aids Digestive Health
For a tasty way to improve your digestive health, add bananas to smoothies. They’ll benefit both bowel movements and gut bacteria.
The high fiber content will bulk up stool, making it easier to move through the digestive tract. The result is more regular bowel movements, preventing constipation.
Plus, the fiber in bananas are prebiotics, or food for gut bacteria. Prebiotics keep the bacteria healthy and balanced.
When the gut bacteria is balanced, you’ll be less likely to experience digestive problems and inflammation.
4. Increases Feeling of Fullness
As they’re so high in fiber, bananas are some of the best foods for reducing hunger.
Fiber is digested slowly, so it stays in the body for a while. This promotes stronger feeling of satiety, or fullness.
Additionally, fiber increases production of hormones that reduce hunger. These hormones, or chemical messengers, tell your brain that you’re satisfied.
If you want to lose or manage weight, adding bananas to smoothies is a great way to control your appetite throughout the day.
5. Reduces Nausea
Bananas are easy on the stomach, making them ideal for managing nausea and stomach upset.
When you eat bananas, the fruit makes your stomach produce more mucus. This protects your stomach lining from acidic substances that make you nauseous.
If you get nauseous when you’re hungry, eating bananas can also help. Their fiber will keep you full while being gentle on the stomach.
Additionally, if you’ve been vomiting, your electrolyte levels might be low. Banana is high in electrolytes, so they can help replenish them.
6. Fights Oxidative Stress
Another health benefit of bananas is that they reduce oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress happens when molecules called free radicals damage healthy cells. It has many possible causes, including poor diet, lack of exercise, and pollution.
If oxidative stress continues, it can harm tissue and organs. This could lead to chronic disease, including type 2 diabetes, cancer, or heart disease.
Bananas can help manage oxidative stress because they have antioxidants, or molecules that fight free radicals.
Examples of antioxidants in bananas include flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
7. Reduces Inflammation
The antioxidants in bananas won’t just lower oxidative stress, but inflammation too. That’s because oxidative stress and inflammation are related and increase each other.
Like oxidative stress, inflammation can lead to long-term conditions like cancer and heart disease. So managing it is key for good health.
Bananas also control inflammation via their gut benefits. The prebiotics in bananas help balance gut bacteria, which reduces inflammation.
Without prebiotics like bananas, the gut bacteria can become imbalanced, causing inflammatory issues.
8. Supports Fluid Balance
Your body uses fluids to stay healthy. Fluids are involved in many vital functions, including digestion, temperature control, and muscle health.
These fluids need to stay in balance. Bananas can help, as they contain several important electrolytes.
Electrolytes are minerals with an electrical charge. They work to balance the amount of water in your body and move fluids in and out of your cells.
The key electrolytes in bananas include magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
9. Enhances Exercise Recovery
Carbohydrates give your body energy. They break down into glucose, the body’s main source of fuel.
This glucose lets you power through physical activity, including exercise. However, if the glucose isn’t replenished, your muscles can become sore and fatigued.
Eating bananas can help prevent this. They’re a healthy source of carbohydrates, which can restore glucose levels in the body.
The fluid balancing effects of bananas can also aid recovery, making them a great snack or ingredient in post-workout smoothies.
10. Promotes Immune Function
Bananas are good for your immune system. They contain vitamin C and zinc, two essential nutrients for healthy immunity.
Zinc has antioxidant properties as well. In the body, it supports cell growth and proper immune function.
Even the gut-friendly benefits of bananas benefit immunity too. The gut and immune system are related, so keeping the gut healthy is also good for immune function.
11. Supports Good Skin
For a delicious way to improve your complexion, eat more bananas. The vitamin C and zinc in the fruit are needed for healthy skin.
Since the body’s natural production of collagen decreases over time, it’s a good idea to eat foods high in vitamin C. The drop in collagen can lead to wrinkles and sagging.
Vitamin C and zinc are needed for wound healing as well. They ensure skin tissue repairs and gets better.
12. Boosts Mood
Bananas offer vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine. This vitamin helps the body produce hormones that affect mood.
Hormones are chemical messengers that send signals to different parts of the body. They control many processes, including how you think and feel.
Vitamin B6 is needed to make serotonin and norepinephrine, which directly affect mood.
Serotonin is known as the “feel good” hormone, because normal levels support calmness. Norepinephrine is also needed for feeling happy and well.
If you don’t eat a lot of fiber, add bananas to your diet slowly. The high fiber content of the fruit can upset your stomach if you eat a lot too soon.
Banana allergies are also possible. Some people who are allergic to latex are also allergic to banana, so be careful if you have a latex allergy.
RELATED: 12 Benefits of Eating Spinach
Pick yellow bananas.
Bananas have the best taste and texture when they’re fully ripe. You can tell a banana is ripe if it has a yellow peel and some brown spots.
Avoid unripe green bananas. They tend to have a bitter flavor.
Store in a cool, dry place.
Keep bananas on the countertop away from sunlight. Otherwise, the warmth will make them rot quicker.
Once ripened, the bananas can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. You can also slice and freeze them for smoothies.
Cut before freezing.
Since bananas are large fruits, it’s important to cut them before freezing. The smaller pieces will be easier for your blender to puree.
You can cut them into six equal-sized pieces or coins.