Bananas get a bad rap. The humble banana has been a staple of American households for decades, advertised as a cheap and healthy snack almost anyone can enjoy. But years of debate on proper diets have put bananas under a microscope. Can something with as many carbs and sugars as a banana truly be good for us? Are bananas healthy?
While it’s true that bananas are mostly carbs, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the health benefits of eating bananas far outweigh the drawbacks.
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Bananas are High in Essential Nutrients
One of the things bananas are most well-known for is their richness in potassium. Potassium is the third most abundant mineral in the body. Potassium keeps our nervous system running smoothly and helps regulate the contractions of our muscles, including (and especially) the heart. Maintaining good potassium levels can help combat stroke, osteoporosis, and kidney stones. It can also lower our blood pressure.
In addition to potassium, bananas contain tons of other vital nutrients. Vitamin B6, which supports brain function, and Vitamin C, which boosts our immunity and helps us absorb the iron we eat.
Bananas are Helpful for Weight Loss
If losing weight is your goal, you needn’t look much further than the almighty banana for a quick and healthy snack. Bananas are both low in calories and high in fiber, particularly unripe (green) bananas, which are packed with resistant starches, which aid digestion. Not only are they tasty and sweet, they fill you up and keep you full.
While it’s true that bananas contain a lot of sugar, their glycemic index rating is actually quite low, thanks to their high fiber content.
And if that’s not convincing enough, they also make for a great pre- and post-workout snack! The minerals like potassium can help restore electrolytes lost by sweating during a workout and the carbs are a great energy boost before you start your morning run or hit the gym.
Bananas Keep Our Organs Healthy
Remember those resistant starches I mentioned earlier? They’re one of two types of fiber bananas contain. Our bodies can’t digest fiber; instead, they’re pushed through our GI tract and becomes food for the helpful bacteria living in our large intestines. Pectin, the other fiber in bananas, may also help protect against colon cancer.
Our heart also depends on nutrients that bananas provide, specifically potassium and magnesium. We’ve already discussed how potassium is necessary for good cardiovascular function, but we also need magnesium for healthy heart function.
Bananas are Cheap and Convenient
Bananas are one of the most convenient snacks you’ll ever find. They’re prepackaged in a durable, pesticide-resistant peel, easy to transport, and easy to eat. They don’t require any prep, you don’t have to cook them, and they’re both edible and nutritious at all levels of ripeness.
Bananas are relatively inexpensive compared to other fruits, with prices as low as less than $1 USD per pound in the Americas, Asia, and parts of Europe. They’re also easy to digest, which can be helpful for people with sensitive stomachs.
The Rotten Part of Bananas
Bananas are almost the perfect food but don’t hit the grocery store just yet. If you’re on a low-carb diet, bananas are not the food for you. After all, bananas are all carbs!
Diabetics are also frequently discouraged from eating bananas due to their high carb and sugar content. While it’s true that bananas contain a lot of sugar, their glycemic index rating is actually quite low, thanks to their high fiber content. That said, people with diabetes should be mindful of their banana intake, particularly ripe bananas, which are higher in sugar and lower in fiber.
Finally, while there are virtually no adverse side effects to eating bananas, people with a latex allergy may also be allergic to some plant foods, bananas among them.
Are bananas healthy? YES! Absolutely! Bananas are a powerhouse of essential vitamins and minerals that help keep you full, promote weight loss, and help almost all your major organs function properly, particularly your heart and your colon. They’re cheap, convenient, and almost anyone can eat them.
As always, if you have concerns about your health regarding what foods to eat, seeing a doctor can help you get the specific health advice you need. But as a general rule, bananas are a perfect addition to any healthy diet.
Try adding the habit “Eat a healthy breakfast” to your Fabulous routine for a daily reminder to enjoy this fabulous fruit!