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Did you know?

Bananas are one of the most potassium-rich foods in the entire world. One medium-sized banana contains 500 milligrams of potassium. What does it mean for your health?

Potassium is an important mineral linked to several impressive health benefits. It functions as an electrolyte that helps your body regulate fluid balance, activate nerve impulses, and control muscle contractions. When your potassium levels go down or altered, your muscles become weak and your heart will have an irregular heartbeat.

Potassium has a lot more to do in maintaining a healthy balance in your body. But it’s not the only important nutrient that bananas provide. The most ubiquitous and incredibly inexpensive fruit is also packed with other nutrients, including:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin B6
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
  • niacin
  • dietary fiber (including pectin)
  • magnesium
  • manganese
  • calcium
  • copper
  • biotin
  • iron
  • zinc

 

Andy-Warhol-Banana

Andy Warhol, Banana | Image from Wall Street International

Health benefits of bananas

Bananas provide a range of health benefits to all mankind, regardless of age and health status. These benefits range from physical to mental in nature. Here are a few of them

1. Improve mood, fight stress, ease depression

The dopamine and magnesium contents in bananas help fight stress and lift up your mood even as its vitamin B6 works to soothe your nervous system. Low levels of vitamin B6 puts you at a high risk of depression.

Bananas contain serotonin, a chemical that regulates mood and social behavior, among many other functions. It’s a neurotransmitter that is sometimes called a happy chemical because it promotes wellbeing and happiness.

Let’s make things straight, though. Even if bananas contain serotonin, eating a piece for a snack does not lift your spirits right away, especially when you’re suffering from depression. This is because the serotonin in bananas does not cross the blood-brain barrier.

But, bananas play an indirect role in affecting your mood by shoring up the amount of serotonin your brain is able to make. The vitamin B6 content in bananas helps your body in synthesizing its own serotonin.

2. Aid in digestion

Bananas are one of the fruits that work best in restoring the electrolytes and potassium that you may have lost due to diarrhea. These fruits contain a lot of insoluble fiber that adds to your stool, easing the movement of food through your digestive system.

Before they ripen, or when they are still on its green stage, bananas are almost entirely starch. Most of this starch is highly digestive-resistant starch, which means they are safe in treating diarrhea among children and adults.

3. Fight inflammation

Inflammation is at the base of many chronic ailments including ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, bladder infection, and Crohn’s disease. Bananas can protect you against these conditions because of its high quercetin content.

Quercetin is a plant pigment, or natural flavonoid, that has antioxidant and inflammatory effects that help reduce irritation, swelling, inflammation, and kill cancer cells, among many other functions.

4. Ease hangovers

Alcohol sends you on a constant and burdening trip to the bathroom. Frequent urinating sucks the nutrients and electrolytes, including potassium, right out of your body when you drink too much alcohol. Once your potassium is depleted, you would feel sick the next morning after a night of drinking.

The best way to replenish the lost potassium in your body is to consume potassium-rich foods. Bananas are the best natural sources of potassium that can fortify your diet.

Eat a banana or two before going to bed after a night of drinking. This will help you a bit when you wake up in the morning. Alternatively, try helping yourself with a banana smoothie if you wake up feeling crummy.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, bananas are loaded with vitamin B6, which is known to help with hangovers; while the fruit’s magnesium content calms your blood vessels and eases headaches. Bananas even work as an antacid, helping you get rid of heartburn or upset stomach.

Federer-eats-a-banana-during-a-match

Federer eats a banana during a match | Image from Wall Street International

5. Help in muscle regeneration

Again, potassium plays an important role in muscle contraction during workouts. When you do an intense exercise, your body burns through its potassium stores, depleting your potassium reserves in the process. This consequently affects the contraction ability of your muscle.

That’s why you experience pain and stiffness after an intense workout. But, by eating bananas after your exercise session, you replenish the lost potassium in your body as well as keep your water balance steady, leading to effective muscle repairs.

Likewise, bananas contain good carbohydrates that give you the energy to help you sail through an intense workout with ease. These fast-acting carbohydrates also help restore the levels of glycogen in your body.

These are but few of the many health benefits of bananas. It would be wise to make eating two bananas daily for a healthier life.

However, if you’re watching your sugar intake and conscious about your weight, please limit your consumption of bananas. These fruits are high in carbohydrates and sugars.