Bananas are slowly becoming my favorite fruits to snack on. They are sweet, affordable and have great nutritional value to the body. Their origin is Southeast Asia and currently you can find them in areas that have warm and wet climate. In this article we will focus on the benefits and ways you can consume them.
Benefits of bananas
1. Great nutritional value
Bananas are rich in nutrients, fiber and a significant amount of antioxidants. Some of the nutrients present in bananas are potassium, vitamins B6 and C, magnesium, copper, manganese, net carbs, fiber, and a small amount of protein and fats. The fiber present in bananas act as prebiotics and also facilitate bowel movement. The antioxidants present in bananas act against free radicals that could possibly lead to cancer or heart disease.
2. Regulate blood sugar
As mentioned earlier, bananas contain fiber. The fiber is pectin in ripe bananas. Additionally, they also contain resistant starch when unripe. The resistant starch, as the name suggests, will escape digestion when consumed. Both pectin and the resistant starch regulate blood sugar levels after meals as they slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates into the body . Additionally, pectin present in ripe bananas slows down gastric emptying .
3. Boost heart health
Bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral that is greatly beneficial to the heart. Potassium helps lower blood pressure. Other than that, bananas also contain magnesium, another mineral that benefits the heart. Eating a banana a day will help reduce the chances of one getting a heart disease.
4. Aid digestive health
Bananas are rich in fiber. The fibers present in bananas are pectin and resistant starch. Resistant starch does not get digested, rather is stored in the large intestine. While in the large intestine, it ferments and acts as food for the good bacteria present in your gut . It is because of this reason bananas are known as prebiotics.
Additionally, the pectin present in bananas help in preventing colon cancer.
5. Aid bowel movement
Bananas are rich in fiber. The fiber present in bananas facilitate bowel movement therefore preventing constipation.
6. Protect the stomach lining
Bananas help in increasing the amount of mucus in the digestive tract. The mucus released protects the stomach lining from hydrochloric acid produced during digestion. Other than that, the mucus also protects any present ulcers in the stomach from the same acid.
Bananas also act as natural antacids. They help relieve any form of acid reflux or heartburn.
7. Mood booster
Bananas help in the production of serotonin, the feel good hormone. They have a small amount of tryptophan, an amino acid which when combined with vitamin B6 from bananas, aid in the production of serotonin. There is therefore no harm in saying consuming a banana a day leaves one happier.
8. Relieve morning sickness
The sweet nature of bananas makes them efficient in aiding morning sickness. Additionally, bananas are rich in vitamin B6 which aid in relief from nausea.
9. Baby brain development
The vitamin B6 present in bananas aid the brain development of the fetus when pregnant. Vitamin B6 aids in brain development both in adults and young children.
Ways you can eat bananas
With all the nutritional value associated with bananas, you definitely do not want to miss out on all the goodness. Here are a couple of ways you can incorporate bananas in your diet.
1. As a fruit
You can consume bananas just as they are. That is peeling the banana and biting into the sweet fruit. Not fancy, but you still get the health benefits associated with bananas.
2. As a smoothie
If you are a smoothie person, then you definitely should try adding bananas to your blend. They can act as natural sweeteners instead of adding sugar. Other ingredients you can add to your smoothie are; yogurt or milk, oats, protein shake powder, pineapples, berries among many others .
3. Fruit salad
Add banana slices into a bowl of your favorite fruits. Some of the fruits I use to make my fruit salad plus bananas are pineapples, strawberries, grapes, watermelon and a bit of avocado. You can add any other fruit of choice.
4. Add to cereal
Sometimes cereals need a little bit of spicing and there is no better way to do that than adding some banana slices to them. You can then add a cup of milk or yogurt to your serving.
5. On toast
On your daily toast bread, you can add slices of banana on the bread and your favorite butter or chocolate spreading.
6. As pancake or cake
On your pancake or cake batter, you can add bananas to the mix and bake them. They make the pancakes or cake taste better and smoother.
7. Chocolate layer
You can make a Popsicle out of a banana. You can dip your banana in a bowl of melted chocolate and add sprinkles too if you would like. Put the coated banana in a fridge so that the chocolate solidifies then snack on it once ready.
Bananas are healthy and are the world’s most popular fruit. Packed with great benefits, its important to note that an excess of something can also have its downsides. Therefore, as you seek to enjoy all the benefits bananas have, remember to do it in moderation.