banana

maxresdefault (3)Bananas have gotten a bad reputation for being too high in sugar. The reality is that the fruit sugar in bananas is bonded to critical life-supporting trace minerals such as manganese, selenium, copper, boron, and molybdenum, and large amounts of minerals such as potassium critical for neurotransmitter function.

Bananas are also high in vitamin B6, which is a critical nutrient needed to convert dietary protein (and amino acids Tryptophan and 5-HTP)  into neurotransmitter serotonin.

Bananas are also high in amino acids that work side by side with the highly bioavailable potassium as a catalyst for abundant electrolyte production. Rather than thinking of bananas as all sugar, we can remind ourselves that bananas are made up of fiber, health boosting nutrients, and water too.

PRIMARY MICRO NUTRIENTS Manganese, Potassium, Vitamin B6
SECONDARY MICRO NUTRIENTS  Copper, Magnesium, Vitamin B2, B5, Folate
NUTRITIONAL HIGHLIGHTS and NOTES
  • boosts serotonin production – due to high vitamin B6 content
  • helps lower blood pressure, protects against heart disease and strokes – due to potassium content
  • cholesterol lowering and colon health – due to pectin content
FUNCTIONAL BENEFITS
Bananas Benefits for Exercise
  • Bananas are often referred to as the perfect food for athletes largely due to their mineral content and easily digested carbs and provide excellent nutrition before, during and after endurance exercise (study1).
  • Eating bananas may help reduce exercise-related muscle cramps and soreness, which affect up to 95% of the general population (study1).
Bananas Improve Kidney Health
  • Potassium is essential for blood pressure control and healthy kidney function. and as a good dietary source of potassium, bananas may be especially beneficial for maintaining healthy kidneys.
  • One 13-year study in women determined that those who ate bananas 2–3 times per week were 33% less likely to develop kidney disease (study1).
  • Other studies note that those who eat bananas 4–6 times a week are almost 50% less likely to develop kidney disease than those who don’t eat this fruit (study1study2)
Unripe Bananas Improve Insulin Sensitivity
  • Insulin resistance is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes and several studies reveal that 15–30 grams of resistant starch per day may improve insulin sensitivity by 33–50% in as few as four weeks (study1study2)
Bananas Contain Powerful Antioxidants
  • Bananas contain several types of potent antioxidants, including dopamine and catechins (study1study2) linked to many health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease and degenerative illnesses (study 3study4). Dopamine from bananas has been shown in 2 studies (12) to acts as a strong antioxidant.
Bananas Support Heart Health
  • Potassium is a mineral that is essential for heart health — especially blood pressure control. Bananas are a great dietary source of potassium
Bananas Aid Weight Loss
  • Eating more fiber from vegetables and fruits like bananas has repeatedly been linked to lower body weight and weight loss (study1study2study3).
Bananas Improve Digestive Health and reduce appetite
  • Dietary fiber has been linked to improved digestion
  • Bananas contain two main types of fiber:
  • Pectin: Decreases as the banana ripens. Pectin may help protect against colon cancer (study1study2).
  • Resistant starch: Found in unripe bananas escapes digestion and ends up in your large intestine, where it becomes food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut (study1study2study3)
  • Both pectin and resistant starch offer appetite-reducing effects and increase the feeling of fullness after meals (study1study2study3study4)
PHYTONUTRIENTS  
PLANT FAMILY  
ADVICE and DANGERS
  • enzyme chitinase – allergy
  • high production crop – buy fair-trade
  • While you may like your bananas hard and green or mushy and brown, the optimal stage at which to eat bananas for peak nutrition is peak ripeness. When a banana’s skin is still green, enzymes prevent absorption of any of the fruit’s nutrients. And an overripe banana with entirely brown or black skin contains fermented fruit. The safest point at which to eat a banana is when its skin is yellow, with brown speckles. (The definitive test is that the banana won’t give you a fuzzy feeling on your tongue)
  • Bananas are the best food for travel-whether on long car rides, flights, or errands around town. When you know you have a trip coming up, buy bananas ahead of time so they’ll be at just the right stage of ripeness when you need them.
  • Bananas are also the most powerful exercise food. Eating a banana before and after exercise can replenish the body more than any other food out there

Very cooling thermal nature, bananas lubricate the intestines and lungs, and they treat constipation and ulcers. Strengthens the yin and benefits conditions of thirst and dryness. For dry lung conditions and dry cough, eat bananas that have been sliced and cooked into a thick soup. Before their completely ripe stage, bananas have an astringent property: use partially ripened steamed bananas for diarrhoea, colitis, and haemorrhoids. For haemorrhoids, steam the whole banana until very soft and eat one organic banana with skin twice a day on an empty stomach.

Bananas detoxify the body. In addition, their cold nature and high sugar content are useful in the treatment of drug addiction (especially alcoholism) marked by heat signs and sugar cravings during withdrawal.

Rich in potassium, bananas are used universally for hypertension. Because they can reduce blood pressure, are easy to digest, and also moisten dryness, bananas are a good food for many elderly people (blood pressure, dryness, and digestive weakness tend to increase with age). Bananas are commonly given to children and infants, although they should be used cautiously with children who are cold, inactive, or frail.

Bananas     1 medium banana = 80g  
Nutrient Unit RDA per 100g % RDA
Water g   74.91  
Energy kcal   89  
Protein g   1.09  
Total lipid (fat) g   0.33  
Carbohydrate, by difference g   22.84  
Fiber, total dietary g   2.6  
Sugars, total g   12.23  
Minerals        
Calcium, Ca mg 1000 5 0.5%
Iron, Fe mg 8 0.26 3.3%
Magnesium, Mg mg 420 27 6.4%
Phosphorus, P mg 700 22 3.1%
Potassium, K mg 470 358 76.2%
Sodium, Na mg   1  
Zinc, Zn mg 11 0.15 1.4%
Copper, Cu mg 0.9 0.078 8.7%
Manganese, Mn mg 2.3 0.27 11.7%
Selenium, Se µg 55 1 1.8%
Vitamins        
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid mg 90 8.7 9.7%
Thiamin mg 1.2 0.031 2.6%
Riboflavin mg 1.3 0.073 5.6%
Niacin mg 16 0.665 4.2%
Pantothenic acid mg 5 0.334 6.7%
Vitamin B-6 mg 1.7 0.367 21.6%
Folate, total µg 400 20 5.0%
Choline, total mg   9.8  
Betaine mg   0.1  
Vitamin B-12 µg 2.4 0 0.0%
Vitamin A, IU IU 5000 64 1.3%
Vitamin E, total mg 15 0.13 0.9%
Vitamin D IU 600 0 0.0%
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) µg 120 0.5 0.4%
Lipids        
Fatty acids, total saturated g      
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated g      
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated g      
Amino Acids        
Tryptophan g   0.009  
Threonine g   0.028  
Isoleucine g   0.028  
Leucine g   0.068  
Lysine g   0.05  
Methionine g   0.008  
Cystine g   0.009  
Phenylalanine g   0.049  
Tyrosine g   0.009  
Valine g   0.047  
Arginine g   0.049  
Histidine g   0.077  
Alanine g   0.04  
Aspartic acid g   0.124  
Glutamic acid g   0.152  
Glycine g   0.038  
Proline g   0.028  
Serine g   0.04  
Hydroxyproline g      

RDA – Recommended Dietary Amount recommendations are based upon calculations for a 40 year old very active man that I have adapted from USDA’s Dietary Intake Guidelines. Using this link you can make your own calculations

Adapted from:

Murray, M. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Food. New York, N.Y.: Atria Books

USDA food database: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/

Healthline

World’s Healthiest Foods – an excellent online food and nutrition encyclopedia

Additional information

Cardiovascular Health and Bananas

A first type of cardiovascular benefit from bananas is related to their potassium content. Bananas are a good source of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Since one medium-sized banana contains a whopping 400-plus mg of potassium, the inclusion of bananas in your routine meal plan may help to prevent high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis.

The effectiveness of potassium-rich foods such as bananas in lowering blood pressure has been demonstrated by a number of studies. For example, researchers tracked over 40,000 American male health professionals over four years to determine the effects of diet on blood pressure. Men who ate diets higher in potassium-rich foods, as well as foods high in magnesium and cereal fiber, had a substantially reduced risk of stroke. We’ve also seen numerous prospective clinical research trials showing substantial reductions of blood pressure in individuals eating the potassium-rich DASH Diet.

A second type of cardiovascular benefit from bananas involves their sterol content. While bananas are a very low-fat food (less than 4% of their calories come from fat), one type of fat that they do contain in small amounts are sterols like sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol. As these sterols look structurally similar to cholesterol, they can block the absorption of dietary cholesterol. By blocking absorption, they help us keep our blood cholesterol levels in check.

A third type of cardiovascular benefit from bananas involves their fiber content. At about 3 grams per medium banana, we rank bananas as a good source of fiber. Approximately one-third of the fiber in bananas is water-soluble fiber. For one medium-sized banana, this amount translates into 1 gram of soluble fiber per banana. Soluble fiber in food is a type of fiber especially associated with decreased risk of heart disease, making regular intake of bananas a potentially helpful approach to lowering your heart disease risk.

Bananas’ Digestive Benefits

Bananas are a fascinating fruit in terms of their carbohydrate and sugar content. Even though bananas are a fruit that tastes quite sweet when ripe—containing 14-15 grams of total sugar—bananas receive a rating of low in their glycemic index (GI) value. GI measures the impact of a food on our blood sugar. This low GI value for bananas is most likely related to two of their carbohydrate-related qualities.

First, as mentioned previously, a medium-size banana contains about 3 grams of total fiber. Fiber is a nutrient that helps regulate the speed of digestion, and by keeping digestion well-regulated, conversion of carbohydrates to simple sugars and release of simple sugars from digesting foods also stays well-regulated.

Within their total fiber content, bananas also contain pectins. Pectins are unique and complicated types of fiber. Some of the components in pectins are water-soluble, and others are not. As bananas ripen, their water-soluble pectins increase, and this increase is one of the key reasons why bananas become softer in texture as they ripen. As their water-soluble pectins increase, so does their relative concentration of fructose in comparison to other sugars. This increase in water-soluble pectins and higher proportional fructose content helps normalize the rate of carbohydrate digestion and moderates the impact of banana consumption on our blood sugar. The bottom line here are some surprisingly digestion-friendly consequences for a fruit that might be casually dismissed as being too high in sugar to be digestion-friendly.

Similar to the importance of their water-soluble pectins is the digestive importance of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) in bananas. FOS are unique fructose-containing carbohydrates that are typically not broken down by enzymes in our digestive tract. Instead, they move along through the digestive tract until they reach our lower intestine and get metabolized by bacteria. This process helps maintain the balance of “friendly” bacteria (for example, Bifidobacteria) in our lower intestine, and as a consequence, it also supports our overall digestive health.

In one study involving female participants, eating two bananas each day for two months led to significant increases in Bifidobacteria. Along with these increased levels of Bifidobacteria, participants also experienced fewer gastrointestinal problems and more regular bowel function when compared to other women in the study who drank a banana-flavored beverage that did not contain any actual banana.

Athletic Performance and Bananas

The unique mix of vitamins, minerals, and low glycemic carbohydrates in bananas has made them a favorite fruit among endurance athletes. Their easy portability, low expense, and great taste also help support their popularity in this exclusive group.

A 2012 study of distance cyclists found that eating the equivalent of about one half a banana every 15 minutes of a three-hour race was just as good at keeping energy levels steady as drinking an equivalent amount of carbohydrate and minerals from a processed sports beverage. Bananas have long been valued by athletes for prevention of muscle cramps. Since bananas are a good source of potassium, and since low potassium levels are known to contribute to risk of muscle cramps, it is logical to think about the potassium content of bananas as being the reason for fewer muscle cramps after consumption of bananas. There is actually some recent research in support of this reasoning. In a recent study, consumption of one or two bananas prior to an hour of exercise was shown to keep blood potassium levels higher after the training. But there are still some big unanswered questions here, since researchers are not convinced that low potassium levels are the most frequent cause of muscle cramps with training.

References

  • Duan X, Cheng G, Yang E, et al. Modification of pectin polysaccharides during ripening of postharvest banana fruit. Food Chemistry, Volume 111, Issue 1, 1 November 2008, Pages 144-149.
  • Gylling H, Plat J, Turley S, et al. Plant sterols and plant stanols in the management of dyslipidaemia and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Atherosclerosis 2014;232:346-60.
  • Miller KC. Plasma potassium concentration and content changes after banana ingestion in exercised men. J Athl Train 2012;47:648-54.
  • Mitsou EK, Kougia E, Nomikos T, et al. Effect of banana consumption on faecal microbiota: a randomized, controlled trial. Anaerobe 2011;17:384-7.
  • Nieman DC, Gillitt ND, Henson DA, et al. Bananas as an energy source during exercise: a metabolomics approach. PLoS One 2012;7:e37479.
  • Oliveira L, Freire CS, Silvestre AJ, et al. Lipophilic extracts from banana fruit residues: a source of valuable phytosterols. J Agric Food Chem 2008;56:9520-4.
  • Prabha P, Karpagam T, Varalakshmi B, et al. Indigenous anti-ulcer activity of Musa sapientum on peptic ulcer. Pharmacognosy Res 2011;3:232-8.

 

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