There are so many different opinions in nutrition that it can be overwhelming to figure out what food actually healthy and what food is not. I like to look at all of the information supporting both sides of an opinion and then keep in mind that anything in moderation is fine.
Balance is always the most important aspect of any healthy diet. Various food producers would like for you to believe that you need to eat their food, and if it happens to also be deemed a ‘superfood’ by current food trends–then they might have you thinking that you need to eat that food exclusively.
Any recommendation that I share on my blog is done so with the importance of moderation and balance in an overall diet. Good foods should be worked in to your diet more often, but not overused as a magic pill solution. You really can get too much of a good thing when it comes nutrition. Balance is best!
No. 1 – Bananas are a super-convenient, super portable source of essential nutrients. Bananas are a significant source of potassium, possibly one of the most convenient sources of potassium. Potassium helps lower blood pressure, maintain pH levels in blood, and promote proper muscle function (including your heart).
No. 2 – Bananas offer the potential to protect against chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. Bananas are a rich source of vitamin B6 which is known to regulate blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body is not able to produce enough insulin to pull sugar out of the blood and into cells for storage, resulting in blood sugar spikes.
No. 3 – Eating bananas regularly could reduce your risk of stroke by up to 40%, New England Journal of Medicine. The high nutrient profile of bananas make them a great addition to a balanced diet which can aid in the prevention of many different kinds of diseases. The FDA officially recognizes bananas as a powerful factor in maintaining healthy blood pressure and preventing stroke.
No. 4 – Excellent source of prebiotics, promoting healthy digestion. The fiber and pectin content in bananas helps to regulate digestion. Bananas also have a unique quality as a natural antacid that can help soothe indigestion and reflux.
No. 5 – Bananas are soothing to upset stomachs, and friendly for chronic stomach conditions like ulcers. Bananas and other members of the plantain family contain specific proteins that coat the lining of the stomach and protect it from damage from digestive acids. Some research even suggests that regular consumption of bananas has been linked to reducing a specific bacteria known to cause stomach ulcers.
No. 6 – Bananas help improve your mood. Fight stress, depression, PMS, and just plain poor moods by eating more bananas. Bananas are rich in tryptophan–which is converted to seratonin, the ‘feel good’ hormone in the brain. Additionally, research supports that vitamin B6 is effective and easing unpleasant PMS symptoms. Luckily, among many other nutrients, bananas are a good source of B6.
No. 7 – Bananas help regulate blood sugar levels. According to the American Diabetes Association, blood glucose responses vary from person to person. This means that not everyone may tolerate fruit sugars well. However, for most healthy people without specific health concerns, bananas have little effect on spiking blood sugar.
Although bananas contain a relatively high amount of natural sugar, it is well balanced with a high fiber content which works towards stabilizing blood sugar levels.
No. 8 – Bananas provide more than just a healthy dose of potassium. They are an often overlooked source of magnesium. Magnesium is vital to proper immune function and reduces inflammation. Research supports that magnesium may be responsible for lowering your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 33%, pair that with their ability to regulate blood sugar levels and B6 and I would say that bananas are a pretty good choice for warding off insulin dependence.
No. 9 – Bananas improve cognitive skills, concentration and help clear brain fog. Bananas provide carbohydrates and natural sugar which are easily converted into energy to power your brain. Plus, the healthy dose of potassium supports healthy brain, nerve and heart function. One study showed that students who ate a banana just before a test did better overall than students who did not.
No. 10 – Bananas supply a clean source of energy to power you through workouts. Bananas fuel the body with carbohydrate, natural sugar and electrolytes to power and replenish the body during intense physical work outs. Plus, the potassium helps your muscles recover faster and prevent cramping.
Don’t Bananas contain sugar? Isn’t sugar bad?
Yes, bananas do contain natural sugar. All sugar should basically be consumed in moderation because high blood sugar levels is so damaging to bodily processes that it is rapidly pulled from the blood and stored as fat. So, consuming high levels of sugar is bad. But, natural sugar, in moderation when balanced with a high nutrient profile is not damaging by itself.
Most of the hype about sugar is targeted at refined sugars, food products with added sugars and sugar products. It is important to consider the nutritional profile of a food overall and if the health benefits outweigh the sugar content, and it is a natural sugar such as those found in fruits, I feel that it is more important to get those nutrients, and get them from real food, then it is to eradicate sugar from the diet.
To recap, yes bananas contain natural sugar. But, one banana also provides 1/3 of the daily recommended potassium intake and significant levels of other essential nutrients like magnesium, Vitamins A, C and B6 all for roughly 100 calories.