Banana benefits and nutritional facts for a banana. What are the health benefits of bananas?
Nutrients in bananas are good for your health. Carbohydrates, proteins, manganese, magnesium, potassium, copper, and fiber contribute to the nutritional value of bananas. Vitamins of bananas include vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C.
Bananas have got many health benefits including moderating blood sugar levels, improving digestive health, helping in weight loss, supporting heart health, helping you feel good, helping you feel more full, improving insulin sensitivity, improving kidney health, and helping in reducing exercise-related muscle cramps.
You can eat raw or ripe bananas or you can have them in yogurt or healthy drinks like this one I found on Amazon. There are also those who use bananas for baking or flavoring their foods and drinks. A friend of mine recently introduced me to Banana Rum.
Nutritional facts for a banana.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), on average, 100 grams of banana contains:
- Water: 78.3 grams
- Energy: 85 kcal
- Nitrogen: 0.12 grams
- Fat: 0.22 grams
- Carbohydrates: 18 grams
- Dietary Fiber: 2.02 grams
- Sucrose: 2.1 grams
- Glucose (dextrose): 7 grams
- Starch: 0.41 grams
- Citric Acid: 279 milligrams
- Malic Acid: 290 milligrams
- Vitamin C: 9.7 milligrams
- Vitamin B6: 0.234 milligrams
- Folate: 25 micrograms
- Vitamin A: 1 microgram
- Carotene, beta: 10 micrograms
- Carotene, alpha: 8 micrograms
- Vitamin K: 0.2 micrograms
As you can see, bananas are rich in proteins, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients. They are also a rich source of dietary potassium, magnesium, and manganese. All these contribute to the health benefits of eating bananas.
Banana nutrients help reduce blood sugar levels.
The nutrients in bananas include fibers like pectins and resistant starch. Bananas have got a lot of pectins. Pectins are water-soluble fibers present in ripe fruits including bananas. They help to make liquids firm when making jam or jelly.
S E Schwartz, R A Levine, and colleagues, 1982, investigated whether sustained pectin ingestion slows down gastric emptying in healthy volunteers. They found out that sustained consumption of pectin slows down stomach emptying rate.
S E Schwartz, R A Levine, and colleagues, 1988, investigated the effects of sustained pectin consumption on the emptying of the stomach, glucose tolerance, and hormone responses in 12 stable, non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetic patients. They found out that sustained pectin ingestion slowed down the emptying of the stomach and improved glucose tolerance.
Thus, pectins reduce appetite by slowing down gastric emptying thereby moderating your blood sugar (glucose) levels.
Resistant starch is present in large amounts in unripe bananas. Like pectins, it also slows down the gastric emptying rate. A Raben, A Tagliabue, and colleagues, 1994, investigated the effects of resistant starch ingestion on blood sugar, lipids, and hormone levels after meals, and on stomach fullness in 10 healthy, normal-weight, young males.
They found out that if you replace your digestible starch diet with a resistant starch one your after meals blood glucose and insulin levels decrease and your stomach also feels full most of the time. Thus, pectins and resistant starch in bananas help lower blood glucose levels after meals, and also reduce appetite by lowering the rate at which you empty your stomach.
Are bananas good for digestion?
Bananas are good for digestion and gut health because they are packed with dietary fibers. Pectin and resistant starch are the main dietary fibers in bananas. Dietary fibers are indigestible carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables and they go to the large intestines or colon. They help maintain bowel health by increasing the weight and size of your stools and softening them.
By bulking up stools and making them softer, fibers make stools easier to pass and also make stools move through the stomach, intestines, and colon more quickly.
Recent studies have proven that resistant starch is effective in stool bulking, and it also protects you against colorectal cancer.
In their investigation of the effects of pectin and pectic-oligosaccharides on colon cancer, Estibaliz Olano-Martin, and colleagues, 2003, concluded that dietary pectins and their degradation products may protect against colon cancer.
Antioxidants in bananas protect you against aging, cancer, and heart disease.
An antioxidant is a substance that prevents oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical process whereby cells, tissues, molecules, or metals change after combining with oxygen, for example, the rusting of iron. In the human body, oxidation is caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable oxygen-containing molecules. The number of electrons in free radicals is uneven and this causes them to react with other substances easily. These oxidation reactions lead to cell damage resulting in illness, cancer, and aging.
Antioxidants prevent oxidation by donating electrons to free radicals thereby neutralizing them. This stops the cascade of free radical reactions.
Thus, antioxidants have a protective effect on cells. They prevent and/or slow down cell damage caused by free radicals thereby protecting cells from diseases such as heart disease, cancer, age-related macular degeneration, and many other ailments.
The antioxidants found in bananas include catechins and dopamine. They reduce your risk of suffering from heart disease and cancer.
Potassium in bananas can make your heart healthy.
Bananas are a rich source of dietary potassium. On average, 118 grams of banana provides you with 9% of the recommended daily potassium intake.
Potassium is an electrolyte in your body. Electrolytes are minerals with an electric charge, for example, potassium, sodium, and chloride.
Besides helping to offset high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke that may be caused by too much dietary sodium, a diet rich in potassium, for example, bananas and other fruits and vegetables, can help your nerves to function, muscles to contract, and heartbeat to stay regular.
Through controlling blood pressure, helping nerve function, muscle contraction, and regular heartbeat, potassium supports heart health.
Magnesium in bananas supports heart health.
Bananas contain a lot of magnesium which also supports heart health. Magnesium is a mineral needed by your body to function properly. Some of its functions in your body include taking part in more than 300 biochemical reactions, maintaining normal nerve and muscle function, supporting a healthy immune system, keeping the heartbeat steady, helping bones remain strong, helping adjust blood glucose levels, and aiding in the production of energy and protein.
Resistant starch in bananas may improve insulin sensitivity.
Regular consumption of bananas may improve insulin resistance because of the resistant starch in them.
Insulin resistance is a condition whereby your muscles, fat, and liver can’t easily convert blood glucose to energy because they don’t respond well to insulin. Thus, they have become resistant to insulin.
Insulin is a hormone in your body. It is made by the pancreas. Insulin helps cells in your muscles, fat, and liver to take up glucose from your blood and convert it to energy or store it as body fat.
In insulin resistance, blood sugar builds up in your body leading to too high blood glucose concentration. Furthermore, your body tries to cope by producing more insulin leading to hyperinsulinemia. This is why most people with insulin resistance have more blood insulin levels than healthy individuals.
Insulin sensitivity describes how responsive your body cells are to insulin. You need to improve your insulin sensitivity in order to reduce insulin resistance and your risk of many diseases including diabetes, and heart disease.
For you to benefit from all the health benefits of bananas, it is recommended that you eat at least one banana every day. However, there are some people who are allergic to bananas. If you are one of them, please avoid them.