As it turns out, the banana is an incredibly healthy food. Eating bananas is actually a great way to get plenty of nutrients that can deliver powerful benefits.
Here’s a look at why you might want to consider making the banana a staple of your diet.
Bananas Contain Many Important Nutrients
The banana is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with the nutrients your body needs in order to function as it should. Even better, you get all these nutrients without having to pack on a lot of calories. One medium banana contains just 102 calories.1
Here are just a few of the nutrients you’ll get from eating bananas.
- Vitamin B6 – A medium sized banana, one which weighs about 100 grams, has .4 mg of vitamin B6.2 That might not seem like a lot, but it’s a third of the recommended daily value, or RDV, that adults 19-50 should get.3 Vitamin B6 is very important to not only the immune system, but also your body’s metabolism.4
- Magnesium – You’ll get 27 mg of magnesium in one banana – 6 percent of the RDV for adults.5 Magnesium is one of the body’s most important nutrients. Not only does it help the nervous system work properly, it also supports muscle function and healthy blood sugar levels.6
- Vitamin C – You might associate vitamin C with citrus fruits more than bananas, but bananas are a great source as well. In fact, one medium banana has over 10 mg of vitamin C.7 That’s a good percentage of the RDV for both men and women.8
- Potassium – While there is no RDV for potassium, experts recommend that adults 19-50 years of age get between 2.6-3.4 grams each day.9 A medium banana contains about 425 mg.10 Potassium helps support kidney function and bone strength.11
Health Benefits Of Bananas
Now that you know some of the nutrients found in bananas, here’s some information on some of the potential health benefits associated with this magnificent fruit.
Blood Sugar Levels
The magnesium in bananas isn’t the only way bananas may help support healthy blood sugar levels. Bananas also contain a substance known as resistant starch, a carbohydrate which helps you maintain healthy blood sugar levels after you eat a meal.12
If you’re concerned about maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, you might want to consider eating a green banana rather than a more ripe yellow banana. The reason has to do with the glycemic index. This is a measure of how quickly a food will raise blood sugar levels.13 The lower the glycemic “score,” so to speak, the slower those levels will rise. Green bananas have a significantly lower glycemic index.14
The potassium in bananas may help support heart health.15 However, you need to be careful not to get too much of this mineral. Excessively high potassium levels have been linked to kidney issues.16 Talk to your doctor about how much potassium is safe for you to consume on a daily basis.
One medium banana also contains three grams of fiber.17 This represents between 8-12 percent of an adult’s RDV. Why is this important? Because dietary fiber supports your digestive health by helping move food through your large intestine.18
Resistant starch found in green bananas may prove helpful if you’re trying to lose weight. It helps you feel fuller, so you might be less likely to overeat.19
In addition to all the benefits listed above, bananas also contain dopamine and catechins, bioactive compounds that are also known as antioxidants.20
These compounds are critically important to the body because they help fight the effects of dangerous, cell damaging molecules known as free radicals. The reason free radicals damage cells is that they’re missing an electron – and they’ll look to steal that electron wherever they can find it. When they take it from a cell, that can lead to muscle damage and a lot of other problems.21
Bananas also contain vitamin A. This vitamin is important for helping you maintain healthy vision.22,23
Great Recipes For Enjoying Bananas
If you want to keep it simple, try spreading peanut butter on a slice of whole grain bread and then putting a few slices of banana on top. If you’d rather be a little more adventurous, you can use bananas in a wide variety of recipes, including some for delicious baked goods. Here are a couple you might want to consider.
What You’ll Need
- 1/4 cup of water or unsweetened almond milk
- 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 ground cinnamon (set aside a little more so you can swirl it on top of the bread once you’re done)
- 1/2 cup of honey
- 1 cup of mashed ripe bananas (this equates to 2 large or 2 1/2 medium-sized bananas)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour
- 2 eggs
How To Make It
- Grease a loaf pan that’s 9X5 inches and set your oven to 325° F.
- Use a whisk to mix the honey and oil together in a large bowl.
- Add the eggs to the bowl and mix.
- Add the bananas and milk (or water).
- Add the cinnamon, vanilla, salt and baking soda.
- Pour in the flour and use a large spoon to stir it in.
- Pour the mixed batter into the loaf pan and sprinkle the extra cinnamon on top.
- Bake for 55-60 minutes. Take it out and insert a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, you’ll know the banana bread is ready.
- Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Take the bread out of the pan, put it on a wire rack, and let it cool for a few more minutes.
- Slice and serve.24
What You’ll Need
- 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 cup of coconut oil (melted)
- 3/4 cup of rolled oats
- 1 cup of mashed banana (2 large bananas or 2 1/2 medium bananas)
- 1 cup of unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 1 cup of whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
How To Make It
- Set your oven to 375° F.
- Grease a mini muffin pan (a 24-cup pan will work best for this recipe).
- Mix all of the ingredients into a bowl and stir until a batter forms.
- Carefully pour the batter so it fills each cup of the muffin pan.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes.
- Stick a toothpick into the center muffin. The muffins will be ready if the toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool in the pan for five minutes or so.
- Transfer to a wire rack for further cooling and serve.25
These tasty recipes just scratch the surface of the many ways you can enjoy bananas. Whether you eat them fresh from the store or you use them in a recipe, try to get them into your diet if possible.
Age And Nutrition: How Do Your Nutritional Needs Change As You Age?
How To Stop Feeling Sluggish And Tired
How To Have A Healthy Gut: Ways To Support Your Gut Health