Feb 3, 2013

Nutritional benefits of Bananas

Bananas are a unique fruit. They are creamy, sweet or savory, and safely preserved by nature in their own packaging - the banana peel. Related to the lily and the orchid, this fruit originated in Malaysia. Today, the major banana producing countries are Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Brazil.

Bananas for Your Health

Bananas and nutrition go hand in hand. They are great sources of an array of nutrients, with B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, manganese and magnesium. One banana also provides eleven percent of the daily recommended requirement of fiber.

Toss this yellow fruit, sliced or chopped on just about anything - the nutrition in bananas nourishes and protects the most vital organ. Research has shown that a high fiber diet significantly lowers the risk of heart disease - the number one cause of death in America. Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, helps with brain function, energy conversion, and along with folate and B12, it works to reduce homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid, which in high quantities is connected to a higher risk of heart attack.

The health benefits of eating bananas also include protection from stomach ulcers and digestive health. To combat the harsh effect of stomach acids, phytochemicals stimulate cells in the stomach lining to create a thicker mucus barrier. Protease inhibitors found in bananas help to eliminate harmful bacteria found in the digestive tract.

Bananas are also a good source of prebiotics - undigestible sugars which provide the nourishment for probiotics. Probiotics are an essential part of our health, defending the body from harmful microbes and improving nutrient absorption.

The nutritional value of bananas also supports kidney health. High in antioxidant phenolic compounds, also found in high quantities in root vegetables, eating bananas on a regular basis greatly reduces the risk of kidney cancer.

Potassium Content of Bananas

Potassium is required for a number of functions - it is the third most prevalent mineral found in the body. How much potassium is in bananas? One piece of fruit supplies twenty-three percent of the daily recommended amount of potassium, with 800 milligrams.

The potassium content of bananas can help prevent high blood pressure and normalize heart function. Studies have linked a diet high in potassium rich foods with a lowered risk of stroke. Potassium also plays a vital role in the health of kidneys, the brain, and muscle tissue. Signs of a potassium deficiency include muscle cramping, fatigue, weak muscles, severe headaches, and high blood pressure.

Integrating Bananas into a Healthy Diet

Bananas are one of the easiest foods to make into a regular part of your diet, and the nutrition in bananas makes it well worth the effort. Add sliced bananas to cereal or yogurt; banana and peanut butter sandwiches are a classic for children; or simply take a banana as a snack-on-the-go.

Bananas are an ideal smoothie base for their creamy texture and sweet flavor. Try a healthy banana smoothie for breakfast - blend one cup milk, one banana, one tablespoon wheat germ, four or five ice cubes, and two tablespoons honey.

Would you believe you still get the health benefits of eating bananas when you fry them in brown sugar and butter and use them as a topping for ice cream or pancakes? Its true, you do. Eat bananas for your health, and have a good time doing it.


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