They say an apple a day keeps the doctor at bay, but whoever coined this phrase had clearly never encountered a banana. They’re one of the most widely consumed fruits – more than 100 billion bananas are eaten every year worldwide. Bananas have been around for centuries. Bananas are often classified as sweet bananas, which are eaten as a dessert or snack, and cooking bananas, which are usually called plantains. An energy booster, banana is the one fruit commonly available across the globe.
You’ll never look at the humble banana the same way again after discovering the many health benefits and reasons to add them to your diet. They can help to combat depression, make you smarter, cure hangovers, relieve morning sickness, protect against diabetes and osteoporosis. Packed with antioxidants and disease-fighting vitamins, they are Mother Nature’s greatest snack foods and since they come packed in their own wrapper, they’re easy to grab on-the-go without having to compromise on buying extra pesky plastic. If you still need reasons as to why you must include bananas in your diet, here are incredible benefits of eating banana:
Powerhouse of nutrients: Banana is a heavyweight when it comes to nutrition. It is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, folate, niacin, riboflavin, and B6. These all contribute to the proper functioning of the body and keeping you healthy. A look into the nutritional breakdown of bananas and it reveals the following: per 100 grams, it contains 0.3 gm total fat, zero cholesterol, 1 mg salt, about 360 mg potassium, 2.6 gm dietary fiber, 12 gm sugar and 1.1 gm protein.
Instant energy boosters: Forget sugary sports drinks and caffeine-filled coffees: bananas are secretly the healthiest way to get an energy hit first thing on a gloomy Monday morning. That’s because they contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose – giving you a fat and cholesterol-free source of fuel. Whizz them up in a shake for a morning treat or pack one in your sports bag for a delicious post-workout pick-me-up.
Ease in digestion: Struggling with a bloated belly and stomach pains after a hearty meal? Studies have shown that bananas can help. According to Ayurveda, bananas have a sweet and sour taste. The sweet taste is said to bring about a sense of heaviness but the sour taste is known to stimulate agni (the digestive juices), thereby supporting digestion and helping in building up metabolism.
Good for your heart: Peel away your banana and you’ll find that the starchy flesh inside is loaded with potassium – an important mineral that is essential for heart health. Bananas contain high levels of potassium, which plays a vital role in keeping your heart healthy, as it helps manage blood pressure and therefore reduce stress on the heart. The fibre, folate, and antioxidants found in bananas play their part in keeping the heart healthy. Bananas also contain phytosterols which play an important part in lowering LDL cholesterol.
Lowers blood pressure: Bananas have low salt content and high potassium content, and these properties contribute to making it an ideal for those undergoing this condition. But make sure you consult your nutritionist or doctor before you add it o your diet.
Regulate bowel movements: Banana is loaded with fibre, both soluble and insoluble. Containing approximately 10 per cent of your fibre needs for the day, bananas can help keep your bowel movements regular. The soluble fibre found in bananas is particularly good for regulating the bowels and can aid in reducing intestinal inflammation, making them an excellent snack for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Helps in losing weight: Planning to shed a few pounds? Try bananas! This weight-loss friendly food contains very few calories (about 100 per banana), yet they’re super filling and very nutritious. A single piece of banana is said to contain only 90 calories, which also makes it a great (and healthy) snack to munch on rather than sugar loaded goodies or deep-fried treats.
Strengthens bones and teeth: Banana contains potassium that not only reduces hypertension but also protects bones and teeth from weakening. It minimises the ill-impacts of sodium; helps to retain the concentration of calcium that is needed for the free flow of blood, proper muscle contraction, and smooth nervous function. Banana is also having manganese that promotes bone health and metabolism. Banana has probiotic bacteria that absorb calcium thus good for healthy bones. Calcium in banana prevents the thinning of bones.
Uplifts your mood: The tryptophan in bananas can boost your mood. The body can turn tryptophan into serotonin, which is one of the hormones in our bodies that stabilises our moods and promotes feelings of well-being and happiness. Banana fights depression and mood booster due to chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. These bio-chemicals along with tryptophan help to lift one’s spirit.
Cooking with Bananas: There are a number exciting ways in which you can add bananas into your diet. As well as being eaten raw, bananas are a great addition to a variety of recipes including smoothies, baked goods and cereal where you are reducing the amount of refined sugar. Add sliced banana to your plain oatmeal or yogurt to get a healthy dose of sweetness. You can also spread mashed banana (instead of jam) over peanut butter on a piece of whole wheat bread. Frozen bananas are a yummy substitute for ice cream. Drizzle a frozen mashed banana with a small amount of dark chocolate, add a few crushed almonds, and you’ll have a delicious, low-calorie sundae.
Unlike bananas, plantains cannot be eaten raw – they need to be cooked. They can be grilled and then mashed into porridge or more commonly roasted or fried.
Smart way of buying bananas:
* If you are buying by the dozen, make sure you pick slightly firm bananas so that they last you at least 4-5 days without spoiling. Bananas tend to ripe really quickly, which is why after a while the peels turn back while the flesh becomes gooey.
* A smart thing to do would be to buy in smaller quantities and enjoy them fresh. Look for fruits without any blemishes or squishy spots.
* Do not store them in the refrigerator.