Bananas: Benefits and Ways To Eat

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.

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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 [1]. Additionally, pectin present in ripe bananas slows down gastric emptying [2].

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 [3]. 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Conclusion

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.

Cranberry Juice: Advantages and Disadvantages

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Cranberry juice is made from cranberries. Cranberries are tiny, red berries mainly found in Canada and the United States of America. Cranberry juice is quite popular among ladies, but that is not why we are here.

This article is going to narrow down to:

  • The health benefits of cranberry juice
  • The disadvantages of cranberry juice

The health benefits of cranberry juice

Cranberries are packed with tonnes of nutrients beneficial to the human body and help improve its immunity. Here are some of the health benefits of cranberry juice:

Source of Vitamins C and E

Cranberries are a rich source of vitamins C and E. These vitamins are essential for healthy and glowing skin and healthy joints. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, helps the skin tissue grow and repair itself by helping it make collagen. This in return helps the skin repair any damage caused by exposure to the sun. Vitamin C also boosts the body’s immunity against the flu or cold.

Vitamin E also helps the skin regenerate itself. Other than that, vitamin E may also help in treating osteoarthritis by increasing the growth of cartilage cells.

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Improved heart health

Cranberry juice is rich in polyphenols which act as antioxidants against chronic inflammation of blood vessels that could otherwise lead to heart disease. Research has also shown that polyphenols lower blood pressure and reduce the amount of cholesterol levels, enemies of a healthy heart.

Prevent occurrence of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are caused by the E.Coli bacteria. This bacteria makes its way from the anal region to the urinary tract leading to an infection. UTIs are way common among women since they have a shorter urethra compared to men. It is because of this reason that cranberry juice is popular among women.

Cranberry juice contains properties that may help in preventing the E.Coli bacteria from building up on the bladder walls and the urinary tract. This reduces the chances of getting a UTI.

NOTE: Cranberry juice does not cure an already present Urinary Tract Infection.

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Improved stomach health

Cranberry juice has properties that prevent the growth of Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori) bacteria in the stomach lining. This bacteria when left unchecked leads to stomach ulcers.

Antioxidants

Apart from vitamins C and E, cranberry juice is rich in other antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that prevent damage from exposure to free radicals that may otherwise lead to heart disease or cancer.

Other antioxidant properties present are; anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, quercetin, peonidin, and myricetin. They may be in lower concentration in the cranberry juice form since the skin of cranberries contains most of these.

The disadvantages of cranberry juice

I am sure you have heard of the saying, “too much of something is poisonous”. Cranberry juice has no exception. Here are some potential risks associated with cranberry juice.

Interaction with medicine

Cranberry juice interacts negatively with blood-thinning medication. This could lead to the formation of blood clots or enlargement of already existing blood clots. If you are under blood-thinning medication, consult with your doctor about how much cranberry juice you can consume.

Stomach problems

Although safe, consuming a lot of cranberry juice may lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea in some people.

Kidney stones

Cranberry juice contains a compound called oxalate in high concentrations. A high amount of oxalate in the body is related to kidney stones. Research has shown that consuming large amounts of cranberry juice may increase one’s chances of getting kidney stones. Kidney stones are formed when oxalate binds to calcium while urine is being made by the kidneys.

Allergies

If you are allergic to aspirin, it’s best to avoid cranberry juice. Cranberry juice contains a substantial amount of salicylic acid. This acid has similar characteristics to the drug, aspirin. Consuming large quantities of cranberry juice can be detrimental as a result.

There you have it folks, the benefits, and risks associated with cranberry juice. Leave a comment on your experience with cranberry juice.

All About Hibiscus Tea

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I am a tea enthusiast and Hibiscus Tea is my favorite on the list. Hibiscus tea is naturally ruby red in color and has a sour taste to it. Hibiscus tea is also known as sour tea, red sorrel, agua de Jamaica among many other names. There is a wide range of hibiscus flowers to choose from, but hibiscus tea is made from the dried calyx of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower. This flower is commonly found in the tropical or sub-tropical regions of Africa and countries such as China, Mexico, and Thailand.

In this article, we will talk about:

  • The health benefits of hibiscus tea
  • The downsides of hibiscus tea
  • How to make hibiscus tea
  • How often to drink hibiscus tea
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The health benefits of hibiscus tea

Consuming hibiscus tea definitely has its potential benefits to the body. Some of these benefits are:

Hibiscus tea may help prevent cancer

Hibiscus tea may help prevent certain types of cancer of the human body. It has polyphenols that contain strong anti-cancer properties. Research has shown that extracts from hibiscus have hindered cell growth and reduced the intrusive nature of mouth and plasma cell cancers. Research has also shown that extracts from hibiscus have prevented the spread of prostate cancer cells in humans.

It is important to note that all these were test-tube studies and therefore the results are not conclusive to a human body.

Hibiscus tea may help in the fight against bacteria

Hibiscus tea may contain anti-bacterial properties. Just like the research on cancer prevention, the research on its anti-bacterial properties were also test-tube studies. In this research, extracts from hibiscus were proven to fight against E.Coli, a bacteria that leads to diarrhea, gas, and stomach pains.

Hibiscus tea may help in weight loss

Research has shown that hibiscus tea may help in the weight loss journey. the results from the study showed that hibiscus reduced body weight, body fat, and Body Mass Index (BMI) after a period of 3 months.

Hibiscus tea may reduce bad cholesterol in the body

There is the good kind of cholesterol scientifically known as HDL cholesterol, then there is the bad kind of cholesterol scientifically known as LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. A high amount of the bad kind of cholesterol can lead to heart disease.

Research done showed that people who consumed hibiscus tea had a significant decrease in bad cholesterol and an increase in the good cholesterol which is needed by the body.

Hibiscus tea may reduce blood pressure

Another heart risk factor like cholesterol is high blood pressure. High blood pressure weakens the heart muscles since the pressure in the blood overwork the heart muscles. Hibiscus tea comes in handy as it is a safer and natural option to use to lower blood pressure.

NOTE: Do not use hibiscus tea in conjunction with hydrochlorothiazide, a drug used to lower blood pressure. The two react with each other leading to negative results.

Hibiscus tea may be good for your liver

Hibiscus tea helps improve the health of your liver therefore your liver works effectively. Hibiscus tea has been proven to reduce fat accumulation in the liver, scientifically known as liver steatosis. Liver steatosis leads to liver failure.

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The downsides of hibiscus tea

Hibiscus tea has its health benefits but may also pose some risks to the human body. Some of these risks are:

Liver damage

We mentioned that hibiscus is good for the liver earlier but it is important to note that high concentrations of hibiscus could lead to liver damage, otherwise known as hepatotoxicity or toxic hepatitis. As your liver works to filter your blood, toxins may form leading to an inflamed or damaged liver. Excess hibiscus concentrations in the body could lead to this toxicity.

Interaction with medication

Hibiscus can interact with certain medications rendering them ineffective to the body. As stated earlier, hibiscus is not to be used with hydrochlorothiazide, a drug used to lower blood pressure. This is because when used together, the drug is made ineffective and therefore not serving its purpose in the body.

The same goes for malaria drugs. Hibiscus makes chloroquine, the active component in malaria drugs, ineffective.

Blood sugar/pressure levels

Hibiscus tea naturally works as a laxative. This means it lowers the blood pressure and blood sugar of an individual. If one is diabetic, it is advisable to take little to no hibiscus tea as it may leave one in a worse state. This is because diabetes lowers the blood pressure of an individual when transitioning to standing either from sitting down or lying down. Depending on your type of diabetes, low blood sugar can be a character as well. It is therefore important to monitor yourself if you take hibiscus tea.

Pregnancy

Research has shown that hibiscus tea is unsafe when consumed during pregnancy. It may lead to pre-term labor or start menstruation leading to a miscarriage.

How to make Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus tea is one of the easiest tea to make. There are a couple of ways to prepare but I am going to share my simple procedure.

  • Boil a cup of water
  • Add a hibiscus tea bag to the hot water
  • Add two teaspoons of sugar or honey to taste

How often should you take hibiscus tea?

It is safe to consume 2 to 3 cups of hibiscus tea in a day. For better results, you can take the tea half an hour before taking your meals.