A banana gives a sustained and substantial boost of energy – that’s why they are a favourite choice for cyclists, footballers and other athletes looking for a quick source of carbohydrate. The riper a banana, the quicker it is digested and converted to muscle fuel. Athletes love to eat bananas before sport, at breaks during a tennis game, and to recover quickly from sport.
Scientific research papers confirm that bananas have significant antioxidant power. One study showed that bananas reduced the oxidative stress in the blood and reduced the ability of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) to be damaging. The prevailing view is that oxidised LDL plays a major role in the formation of plaques leading to heart disease, so anything that reduces this risk is good news. Another study showed the antioxidant compounds in bananas helped protect nerve cells, which in turn could help protect the brain from Alzheimer’s Disease.
The banana is the best fruit source of vitamin B6 (one small banana provides around a quarter of your daily needs; one big banana provides nearly half of your daily needs). B6 helps with the production of neurotransmitters including serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The banana is also a wonderful source of vitamin C, along with modest amounts of the B group vitamins folate, niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.
Low Glycaemic Index
The average Glycemic Index of bananas is 52, less for under-ripe bananas as they have a higher starch content and a lower sugar content. A GI of 52 is classified as low, meaning that it doesn’t cause high blood sugar levels. That makes the banana a good fruit choice for people with diabetes.
Bananas contain lectins, which have been strongly linked to a reduction in the risk of cancer and potentially helpful in the treatment of cancer. Plant lectins are known to resist digestion and enter the blood stream intact. They can affect the growth and proliferation of cancer cells, and even cause their ultimate death.
Bananas can help reduce the risk of kidney cancer. Research on 61 000 Swedish women found that, of all the fruits, bananas gave the greatest protection against renal cancer. Women eating 5 bananas a week nearly halved their risk of renal cancer.
Carbohydrate snacks are very useful for bringing low blood glucose levels back to normal and help avoid the mid-afternoon slump often experienced at work. We can control our blood glucose levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every 2-4 hours to keep levels steady. Healthy carbohydrate snacks are very useful for clear thinking, improved memory and mood. Bananas are ideal, because of their low GI and zero fat level.
Healthy Blood Pressure
This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium and salt-free, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. Australian and international research show that a diet high in potassium and low in salt helps to keep blood pressure normal. Less than 1 in 10 people get enough potassium to reduce their risk of chronic disease, like stroke. That leaves a lot of room for high potassium foods like the banana.
Healthy & Happy Insides
We all know that high fibre foods help keep you regular and prevent constipation. High in fibre, bananas included in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, without resorting to laxatives. A medium banana will provide about 10% of your fibre needs for a day.
You won’t get fat on a banana. Bananas have a high satiety index, that is, they are very filling for the amount of kilojoules they provide. Imagine eating a medium sized serve of fries. Not particularly filling are they? Imagine eating four bananas at once. You would probably stop at one or two. Well, four bananas have the same number of kilojoules as a medium fries, yet so much more filling. If you are trying to maintain a healthy weight then eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and go easy on the fatty foods. As there is no fat in a banana it is almost impossible to get fat on a banana!
Now that you know a lot more about the health benefits of your favourite fruit, please tell your friends. And remember, leave bananas in the fruit bowl to ripen naturally. When you buy bananas, buy a mix of ripe and green bananas so you get a steady flow of ripe bananas. Lovely as they are you don’t want them all becoming ripe on the same day!
From healthy smoothies to decadent cream pies, our Collection of Banana Recipes offers countless ways to use this versatile fruit. The humble banana has made its way into a lot of great recipes including smoothies, banana cakes, banana muffins, banana breads and banana pancakes. Find a great tasting banana recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert in our selection of healthy banana recipes, for savoury, sweet, snacks and drinks.