Health

Benefits and health risks of bananas


The following sections explain some of the possible health benefits of bananas.

The nutrition information comes from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) FoodData Central database.

Daily requirements are from the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These are for adults, but they are approximate, as the values vary according to a person’s age and sex.

The American Heart Association (AHA) encourage people to lower their intake of salt, or sodium, and increase their consumption of foods that contain potassium. Potassium can help manage blood pressure and reduce strain on the cardiovascular system.

A medium banana provides almost 9% of a person’s daily potassium needs, according to the nutritional information from the above sources.

Asthma

A 2007 study suggested that eating bananas might help prevent wheezing in children with asthma. One reason for this could be the antioxidant and potassium content of bananas. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Cancer

Laboratory investigations have suggested that lectin, a protein that occurs in bananas, may help prevent leukemia cells from growing.

Lectin acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help the body remove molecules known as free radicals. If too many free radicals build up, cell damage can occur, potentially leading to cancer.

In 2004, researchers noted that children who consumed bananas, orange juice, or both appeared to have a lower risk of developing leukemia.

The study authors suggested that this could be due to the vitamin C content, as this, too, has antioxidant properties.

Heart health

Bananas contain fiber, potassium, folate, and antioxidants, such as vitamin C. All of these support heart health.

A 2017 review found that people who follow a high fiber diet have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those on a low fiber diet. Those who consumed more fiber also had lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.

Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association recommends eating bananas and other fruit as they contain fiber. They note that eating fiber can help lower blood sugar levels.

The author of a 2018 review concluded that eating a high fiber diet could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and may lower blood sugar in those who already have the disease.

Digestive health

Bananas contain water and fiber, both of which promote regularity and encourage digestive health. One medium banana provides approximately 10% of a person’s fiber needs for a day.

Bananas are also part of an approach known as the BRAT diet, which some doctors recommend for treating diarrhea. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.

Diarrhea can lead to a loss of water and electrolytes, such as potassium. Bananas can replace these nutrients.

High fiber foods can trigger bloating, gas, and stomach cramps in people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to a 2012 study. However, bananas may improve symptoms, the authors concluded.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America recommends banana as a snack food in their diet plan.

Preserving memory and boosting mood

Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid that may help preserve memory, boost a person’s ability to learn and remember things, and regulate mood.

Bananas are rich in the mineral potassium. Potassium helps maintain fluid levels in the body and regulates the movement of nutrients and waste products in and out of cells.

Potassium also helps muscles to contract and nerve cells to respond. It keeps the heart beating regularly and can reduce the effect of sodium on blood pressure.

Potassium may reduce the risk of kidney stones forming as people age. In turn, healthy kidneys make sure that the right amount of potassium stays in the body.

One medium-sized banana contains 422 milligrams (mg) of potassium.

It is best to try to get potassium from dietary sources, such as bananas. Otherwise, potassium supplements are available to purchase online.





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