Banana; Types, Nutritional Value, Uses, Banana Health Benefits

Banana
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Banana is elongated, slightly curved edible fruits with a fleshy outer peel that can be easily removed to expose the white to yellow flesh. They grow in clusters near the top of the fruiting plant, and come in a range of colors, including green, red, yellow, and brown (when ripe). A banana tree is the largest flowering herbaceous plant in the world. The scientific name of bananas is Musa acuminata. The fruit of the banana tree is eaten directly when ripe or is included in fruit salads, juice, and shakes. Unripe bananas can cause severe indigestion and should be eaten only in a cooked form. Also, bananas make a good topping for breakfast cereals or a snack for a quick burst of energy.

Nutritional Value of Banana

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 371 kJ (89 kcal)
Carbohydrates
22.84 g
Sugars 12.23 g
Dietary fiber 2.6 g
Fat
0.33 g
Protein
1.09 g
Vitamins Quantity%DV
Thiamine (B1)
3%

0.031 mg

Riboflavin (B2)
6%

0.073 mg

Niacin (B3)
4%

0.665 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)
7%

0.334 mg

Vitamin B6
31%

0.4 mg

Folate (B9)
5%

20 μg

Choline
2%

9.8 mg

Vitamin C
10%

8.7 mg

Minerals Quantity%DV
Iron
2%

0.26 mg

Magnesium
8%

27 mg

Manganese
13%

0.27 mg

Phosphorus
3%

22 mg

Potassium
8%

358 mg

Sodium
0%

1 mg

Zinc
2%

0.15 mg

Other constituents Quantity
Water 74.91 g

Link to USDA Database entry values are for edible portion
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Health Benefits of Banana

  • Improve Heart Health – A report by the Harvard Medical School says that low potassium levels can cause disturbances in heart rhythm. Bananas, being rich in potassium, can help counteract this problem (5). (Too much of potassium could be bad for the heart. So, take care. New research suggests that one banana a day can cut your risk of heart attack by a third (6). This could also be associated with other healthy lifestyle habits like abstaining from tobacco and regular exercise. The heart also contains various potassium ion channels, which could be another reason bananas are so good for heart health (7). And as frightening as it might sound, extremely low levels of potassium can even cause your heart to stop (8). According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, banana is one of the fruits to be taken for a healthy heart (9).
  • According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, potassium helps lower blood pressure levels -But exercise caution with potassium supplements – never take them without checking with your doctor (10). One study states that having two bananas a day can lower blood pressure by as much as 10 percent. According to the American Heart Association, potassium reduces the effects of sodium. But consuming more potassium must also be combined with regular exercise and a healthy diet for maintaining heart health (11). And people suffering from kidney disease should restrict the consumption of potassium. A high sodium intake causes your body to retain water – and this elevates blood pressure. Potassium works to reduce this water retention, displaying a positive effect on blood pressure. It also boosts kidney function, which helps flush sodium out of the body. The nutrient also relaxes the walls of the arteries (12).
  • Enhance Brain Health – Bananas are also rich in vitamin B6, which improves cognitive function.  In one study by Tuft’s University, men with higher concentrations of vitamin B6 performed better in memory tests. And the magnesium in bananas facilitates the electrical activity between the nerve cells in your brain. More importantly, the cells in your brain utilize glucose as fuel. Since our brain cannot store glucose, we must regularly supply it.  The fruit is also rich in manganese that is known to prevent brain conditions like epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease (13), (14). The serotonin and melatonin in bananas promote stress relief. We already saw bananas are rich in vitamin B6. The deficiency of this vitamin can also cause confusion, depression, and peripheral neuropathy (15). Eating bananas regularly can improve brain power and nerve function. They help boost concentration as well.
  • Promote Bone Health – According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, potassium in bananas is good for bone health (20). Bananas are also good sources of silicon, which, as per certain preliminary studies, can contribute to bone health (21). And the magnesium in the fruit is another important nutrient for bone structure (22).Foods rich in potassium also produce alkali in the body to maintain the acid-base balance. This is important to note because when a body is acidic, the bones get a signal to neutralize the acid – and the bones tend to achieve this by breaking down to release the alkali.
  • Potassium-rich foods –  can prevent this and allow the bones to maintain their structure (23). In other words, potassium consumption can prevent calcium loss from bones (24). Potassium intake has also shown to improve bone density in senior women. The study also links long-term potassium intake to a reduced risk of osteoporosis (25). Another American study links potassium consumption to the prevention of age-related bone loss (26).
  • Prevents Colo-rectal Cancer – The high fiber content in bananas help bulk up the stool and stimulate the body’s peristaltic motion, which facilitates bowel movements through the intestinal tract. This can help prevent colorectal cancer and reduce unhealthy digestive conditions.
  • Cures Diabetes – A banana provides about 3 grams of dietary fiber, which is beneficial for both type-1 and type-2 diabetics. Type-1 diabetics may have lowered blood glucose levels and type-2 may have improved blood glucose levels. [27]
  • Preserves Memory and Boosts Mood – The amino acid tryptophan in bananas plays a vital role in boosting mood and preserving memory. Additionally, magnesium helps relax muscles and vitamin B6 helps you sleep well.
  • Treats Anemia – Bananas contain high iron content and therefore aid in treating anemia since iron is an essential part of red blood cells. Bananas also have a significant content of copper, which is an important element in the creation of red blood cells. By increasing your red blood cell count, not only do you prevent anemia, but you can also increase circulation to all parts of the body, thereby oxygenating them and optimizing their functionality.[28]
  • Aids in Weight Loss – Bananas are useful for weight loss as one banana has approximately only 90 calories. They contain a lot of fiber as well and are easy to digest. Furthermore, they do not contain any fats. Therefore, an overweight person does not have to eat too much if their diet contains bananas because they are very filling. The roughage will also not make the person feel hungry by inhibiting the release of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. This will reduce overeating and also help in weight loss.[28]
  • Help Treat Diarrhea – Bananas aid in diarrhea treatment through electrolyte replacement. Since the fruit is rich in potassium, it can help replace the lost potassium (27). You can simply eat a banana to get some relief. You can then add a pinch of salt to water and drink the mixture – this will help replace the lost sodium and chloride.There is one specific diet designed for quick recovery from diarrhea. It is called the BRAT diet – bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.  Also, within 24 hours of diarrhea, you must eat a diet that includes fruits and vegetables. Though the BRAT diet is okay to have, it is no longer the preferred diet choice for relieving diarrhea (28).
  • Promote Digestive Health – Bananas help restore normal bowel function. And since they are rich in fiber, they are what you must be looking for digestive health. Also, the smooth functioning of your digestive tract depends on its musculature – it contracts in a wave-like pattern (a process called peristalsis). And potassium plays a major role in muscle function, which is why it can aid in this process. Since bananas are natural antacids, they can help neutralize stomach acid and aid in ulcer treatment.[ 30]
  • Another component in bananas – leucocyanidin, increases the thickness of the mucous membrane of the stomach – this offers additional protection from ulcers. Even unripe plantain bananas can stimulate the growth of gastric mucosa (29).Green bananas are rich in resistant starch that can help treat constipation (30). And since bananas are naturally low in acids, they can also help ease heartburn. These can cause constipation or aggravate a preexisting condition (31). By the way, this property has been used in the BRAT diet for diarrhea treatment.
  • Treat Hangovers – Potassium is one mineral that is lost following alcohol consumption, and this also causes dehydration (32). You can have a banana milkshake sweetened with honey – a quick fix for a hangover. The banana calms the stomach, and the honey replenishes the depleted sugar levels. And the milk soothes and rehydrates your body (33).Vitamins B1 and B6 are two of the nutrients whose levels fall post alcohol consumption – bananas are rich in these and can help improve hangover symptoms (34). The glucose and electrolytes in bananas also help treat hangover (35).
  • Whiten Teeth – Though there is limited research, certain reliable sources say that the potassium, manganese, and magnesium in ripe banana peels help whiten teeth. You can simply rub the inside of the peel on your teeth for a couple of minutes. Wait for about 10 minutes before you brush as usual. But even otherwise, the magnesium in bananas is great for teeth (36).
  • Reduce Stress – Since the potassium in bananas lowers blood pressure, it might also help reduce stress. And since bananas are also rich in carbohydrates, you can have a relaxing effect – carbs produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter that calms you down.The fruit also contains dopamine, a chemical that can soothe your nervous system and reduce stress (37). And the vitamin B6 in bananas also helps (38).
  • Offer An Instant Energy Boost – Bananas are a combination of complex carbs, amino acids, natural sugars, and other minerals that give an energy boost. The carbs in bananas are slowly released into the blood, providing a sustained supply of energy. Even bread and pasta, like bananas, contain slow-release carbs.Bananas also contain nutrients that are vital post a workout – these nutrients aid muscle repair and balance water retention. In fact, research says that just two bananas can give you enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout (39).According to a report by the Appalachian State University, bananas could be as beneficial as sports drinks (40).
  • Help Fight Cancer – A yellow banana is healthy. But a banana going brown and spotty could be healthier. The more the brown patches, the more Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF). Research says TNF is a cancer-fighting compound that helps fight the abnormal cells in the body. Also, yellow skin bananas with dark spots are about 8 times more effective in combating the bad cells than the green skin variety. They also stimulate the production of white blood cells, which enhance immunity (41). Another study links banana consumption to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer (42). Bananas also have a protective association with lung cancer (43). The fruit can also offer protection against kidney cancer as per a study. The study states that women who consume four to six bananas a week can cut their risk of kidney cancer by 50 percent. This effect can be owed to the antioxidant phenolic compounds in bananas.
  • Improve Eye Health – Medical practitioners in Nigeria are known to combine with another African herb (called Orinol) to treat macular degeneration and cataracts. This can be attributed to the vitamin A content in bananas, which protects the eye membranes and offers light to the cornea.
  • Relieve Menstrual Pain – This could be attributed to the potassium in bananas. The mineral can work as a muscle relaxant and relax the uterine muscles during periods.Bananas can also work wonders for muscle cramps triggered by menstruation (44). And the vitamin B6 (and the potassium) can prevent water retention and keep you from feeling bloated (a common symptom during periods).
  • Reduce Inflammation Due To Mosquito Bites  – This is where the banana peel comes to the rescue, again. The sugars in the peel can help draw the fluid out of the mosquito bite. You just have to rub the inside of the peel on the affected area. But before using the peel, sanitize the affected area first.[43]
  • Strengthen The Immune System – Banana contains copper that improves immunity by protecting the cells from damage during chemical reactions. It also is an important component of enzymes that metabolize iron, and yes, iron is also vital for the immune system. The fruit also contains vitamin C that stimulates the production of the ever-important white blood cell. Bananas contain another substance called banana lectin that is gaining prominence in the scientific realm.[44] In the future, this substance can keep deadly viruses (especially the ones causing AIDS) from entering the healthy cells (45). In one study, the very substance had protected mice from getting infected by the flu virus. As per another report, the magnesium in bananas also has important functions for the immune system (46). And yes, the potassium in bananas can also enhance immunity.
  • Might Help Withdraw From Smoking Urge – Though there is limited research on this, eating bananas won’t do any harm. People who smoke often have higher levels of nicotine in their blood, which, in turn, urges them to smoke again. This cause a cycle of the unhealthy smoking habit. The potassium and magnesium in bananas are said to lower the nicotine levels in the blood, thereby helping smokers resist the urge.[48]
  • Might Be Good For Diabetes – For diabetics, being aware of the carbs in the diet is vital. Because carbs raise blood sugar levels faster than other nutrients. And bananas contain carbs. About 93 percent of the calories in bananas come from carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are in the form of sugar, fiber, and starch. But since bananas contain a lot of carbs, how is it even possible that they might be good for diabetes? Well, bananas contain fiber as well. This fiber can help slow down the digestion and absorption of carbs (47). This prevents blood sugar spikes and regulates blood sugar levels.
  • Vitamin B6 in bananas reduces stress as well – which can aid in diabetes management. One study states that daily consumption of bananas can marginally improve blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes (48). Another report by the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends banana intake during diabetes as the fruit is low in fructose (49).
  • Help Treat Anemia – Anemia, especially when caused during pregnancy, can be treated with the ideal dose of folic acid. A nutrient is a form of B vitamin found in foods, and bananas are blessed with a good amount of it. Folic acid prevents anemia in pregnant women and also promotes the health of the fetus (50). The vitamin C in bananas also helps in the proper absorption of iron (and yes, iron is what one needs to fight anemia). Vitamin B12 helps treat pernicious anemia (when a body can’t produce enough red blood cells as it doesn’t have enough vitamin B12). Though bananas don’t contain encouraging levels of vitamin B12, the vitamin B6 they contain is required for the proper absorption and storage of vitamin B12. And the copper in bananas also aids in iron absorption.[50]
  • Treat Nausea From Morning Sickness – Potassium in bananas can help relieve morning sickness. And so can the carbohydrates. However, more research is warranted in this regard.
  • Reduce Fever – Excessive sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting are some of the common symptoms of fever. These symptoms deplete potassium levels in the body and cause weakness. Bananas, being rich in potassium, can be of great help. They can also help replace lost electrolytes, thereby accelerating recovery. The flavonoid compounds in the fruit can decrease inflammation and boost immune activity – which invariably helps fight fever.[50]
  • Enhance Mood – Since bananas help stabilize blood sugar levels, they enhance mood. And the vitamin B6 in the fruit relieves stress and anxiety. Bananas are also superb sources of tryptophan, the amino acid that stimulates the production of serotonin (also called the happiness hormone) (51).Keeping your B-vitamin intake high can help ward off depression as you age. And bananas are replete with these vitamins. Potassium in bananas also positively impacts the brain neurons, the deficiency of which can lead to brain fog and other cognitive issues.One medium banana contains about 785 mcg of niacin and 24 mcg of folic acid – B vitamins that help calm you down. And bananas might also help you with mood swings – especially those related to PMS. However, excessive vitamin B6 can harm your nervous system. So, take care. One piece of conflicting research says that the serotonin in bananas doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier – and hence may not be as effective in boosting mood (52).
  • Help Treat Piles – According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, eating a banana on an empty stomach every day can help treat hemorrhoids. For bleeding hemorrhoids, three bananas a day can be a good choice (53).
  • Treat Insomnia – Potassium and magnesium in bananas help relax muscles and promote sleep. And the tryptophan in bananas has been used to treat numerous sleep disorders. A dose of tryptophan was also found to show improvement in patients with sleep apnea (54). Bananas also contain another compound melatonin that helps in insomnia treatment (55).
  • Can Promote Weight Loss – The fiber in bananas can aid weight loss. And since they also contain starch, they can control blood sugar levels. This is good for weight loss because excess sugar gets stored as fat in the body.You can also start the Morning Banana Diet for weight loss (56). This diet doesn’t have any strict meal plans or calorie counts. It just encourages you to eat fruit, be aware of your hunger, and finish off dinner by 8 PM.
  • Improves Vision – Bananas, like many other fruits, are packed with antioxidants and carotenoids, as well as a healthy mix of minerals that can seriously boost the health of your eyes. [8] Macular degeneration, cataracts, night blindness, and glaucoma have all been shown to decrease with normal intake of bananas and other similar fruits.
  • Promotes Weight Gain – Bananas can be useful for weight gain. When consumed with milk, bananas help increase a person’s weight rapidly. Milk provides the necessary proteins and bananas provide the sugars. Furthermore, since bananas are easily digested, an underweight person can gulp down 5-6 bananas in a day apart from the regular meals without facing indigestion. This leads to an additional intake of 500-600 calories, which is quite necessary for weight gain. Since bananas have the ability to provide instant energy, sportsmen eat bananas during the breaks in between games for an extra surge of energy.[9]
  • Treats Piles (Hemorrhoids) – Bananas have been used as a natural remedy for piles as the high fiber content makes it easy to pass stools. The laxative effect prevents any kind of strain, thus providing relief and curing hemorrhoids (swollen veins around the anus region).
  • Treats Ulcers – Traditionally, bananas have been used as an antacid food to soothe upset stomachs as they can also suppress acid secretion. The protease inhibitors in bananas eliminate the harmful bacteria that have been linked to the development of stomach ulcers. [9]
  • Prevents Kidney Disorders – Potassium and various antioxidants in bananas help ease the strain on kidneys and encourage urination. This can help keep toxins from accumulating in the body.
  • Relieves Menstrual Problems – Cooked banana flowers help in providing relief from painful and excessive bleeding during the menstrual cycle and can relieve other menstrual distress too. [10]
  • Moisturize Your Skin – Bananas are great natural moisturizers for your skin. The vitamin A present in bananas restores the lost moisture and repairs damaged, dull, and dry skin.Another easy face mask to get moisturized skin is to mash half a ripe banana and mix it with 1 tablespoon of yogurt and 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil. Apply it generously to a clean face and rinse it off after 30 minutes.[10]
  • Help Skin Glow – Bananas contain good amounts of vitamin C that helps in maintaining the natural and youthful glow of the skin. You can bring back the lost glow using these face masks .Mash half a ripe banana and mix it with 1 tablespoon of sandalwood paste and ½ teaspoon of honey. Leave it on for 20 to 25 minutes and wash with lukewarm water. This face mask is beneficial for oily skin as sandalwood helps in cleaning excess sebum and oil from the skin while the banana keeps it moisturized. [11]
  • Have Anti-Aging Benefits – The nutrients in bananas help fight wrinkles and keep the skin youthful.For an anti-aging facial mask loaded with vitamins A and E, mash an avocado and a banana together. Leave it on your skin for 20 minutes and rinse. Your skin will become soft and youthful. The vitamin E in avocado combined with the nutrients in bananas fights free radicals and repairs damage.You can also thoroughly mash 1/4 banana and add 1 teaspoon of rose water. Apply it to the face and neck and wash it off after half an hour.[12]
  • Have Benefits For Foot Care – The moisturizing property of bananas can be used to get rid of cracked heels.All you need to do is mash the pulp of two ripe bananas and apply to clean, dry feet. Leave it on for 10 minutes and rinse the feet with cold water. The banana pulp will penetrate deep into dry, cracked skin and give you soft and supple feet.
  • Help Treat Puffy Eyes – The nutrients in bananas can help calm the blood vessels under the eyes and reduce puffy eyes. All you need to do is mash half a banana and apply generously around the affected area. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, post which you can rinse with cool water. The potassium in the banana draws out the excess fluid from under the skin and gives relief.
  • Help Remove Dead Skin Cells You can prepare a banana scrub to exfoliate your skin. It is full of antioxidants, which not only help remove dead skin cells but also leave your skin feeling new.Take a mashed banana and 1 tablespoon of sugar and mix them well. Apply to your skin and rub in circular motions. The banana will moisturize the dry skin while the sugar granules will get rid of the dead skin.[50]
  • Mash a ripe banana – To this, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of oats and 1 tablespoon each of honey and milk. Apply on your face and leave it on for 5 minutes. Wash with cold water. In case you have extremely dry skin, you can substitute milk with fresh cream.Take 1/2 banana (ripe), 1 tablespoon of coconut milk, and 2 tablespoons of uncooked rice. Blend all to get a thick paste. Gently massage your face with this paste and then wash off with cold water. To make a body scrub, mash 2 bananas with 4 to 5 strawberries using a blender. Mix 3 tablespoons of sugar and use it as a body scrub when you take a bath.[14]
  • Help Treat Acne – You can use a banana peel to treat acne.Cut a small piece of the peel. Rub the inside of the peel gently over the acne affected area. Do this for about 5 minutes or until the inside of the peel turns brown. Let the banana on your skin dry out. Cleanse with lukewarm water. Repeat this at least 3 times a day for best results.
  • Aid In Treating Itchy Skin, Warts, And Psoriasis – For itchy skin, simply rub the inside of the banana peel on the affected area, and you will find relief.For treating warts and psoriasis, just apply the banana peel to the affected area and rub it for 10 to 15 minutes twice every day. You can use this in addition to your medication. However, do talk to your dermatologist for advice.[11]
  • Help You Achieve Beauty Sleep – We all know how essential a good night’s sleep is for maintaining skin health. Melatonin is the sleep inducing hormone in the human body and tryptophan is the amino acid that is necessary for the production of this sleep hormone.We already saw how bananas could help induce sleep. Eating bananas a few hours before going to bed will help you get that essential beauty sleep – which basically means you are encouraging your skin to repair itself as you sleep.
  • Enhance Hair Health And Appearance – Bananas contain folic acid that makes your hair shine (57). They also keep your hair moisturized and well hydrated (58). The potassium in the fruit and the other natural oils also improve hair health (59).

References

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