15 Wholesome Benefits of Bananas
Bananas are a tasty snack or breakfast treat, but did you know that they’re also great for your health? These yellow fruits are packed with potassium and offer a full range of benefits for you. Just adding a banana in your daily meal plan can go a long way, as it will help you get valuable nutrients, reduce cravings, improve digestion and more. Here are 15 benefits to bananas you probably didn’t know.
- Improve your sleep.
Yes, bananas can help you sleep. Bananas contain tryptophan, the same as turkey, and that helps with your melatonin, which promotes relaxation in the body. Not only that, but bananas also have magnesium and potassium, which are natural muscle relaxants. Having trouble sleeping at night? Try eating a banana before bed to boost your body’s ability to drift off to sleep.
2. Reduce cravings and snacking.
Bananas are full of fiber, which helps you feel longer faster and they also help keep your blood sugar up. If you get hungry between meals during the day, grab a banana, which is a perfect way to keep cravings at bay. You’ll be less likely to snack on salty or sweet foods, plus you’ll be adding vital nutrients to your daily intake. It’s a win-win.
3. Refine digestion.
You’ll find 2.5 oz fiber in a small banana, including the best type of fiber: insoluble fiber. This type of fiber is a big aid in digestion, as it pushes the waste out so your body can properly expel it. Bananas have a good boost in keeping you regular, reducing incidents of constipation or hard stools. Better yet, bananas have 10% of your daily recommended fiber allowance packed in one sweet package, so it’s easy to get your requirement by starting off the day with a banana.
4. Clear up and revitalize skin.
Bananas are also great for your skin, and you can enjoy their benefits topically or by eating them. As they have vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium and antioxidants, bananas can make be used in various face masks and plasters for your skin’s health. Try rubbing bananas with avocado to make a face-smoothing mask, or mash two bananas onto your cracked heels. Other uses include slices of bananas under your eyes to reduce puffiness, or a banana-lemon juice mask to reduce blemishes. Pricy makeup stores sell banana-packed products, but you can make these at home to enjoy at a more economical price.
5. Soothe a variety of cramps.
There’s nothing more painful when a leg cramp strikes in the middle of the night, is there? Cramps associated with exercise and PMS are just as painful, but your secret weapon to address all three is bananas. Bananas contain vitamin B6 and potassium, which help with muscle cramps. If you’re about go on a workout, experts recommend you snacking on a banana beforehand, as a guard about too-low potassium levels. You can also eat them after a workout for the same effect.
6. Banish bloating.
Feeling bloated? Bloating can be caused by high salt intake, high water retention and poor digestion. As you know, bananas have fiber, and one type that’s helpful with bloating is prebiotic fiber. The prebiotic fiber helps your body by feeding the “good” bacteria in your gut and regulating the digestive process. Throwing a banana in your daily routine will keep the bloat down and also reduce problems with excessive gas.
7. Recover from diarrhea.
Have you heard of the BRAT diet? The BRAT diet is recommended for people suffering with bouts of diarrhea, it can help them recover. The B in BRAT is for banana, and even alone, the banana is a great recovery aid. The fruit is a high carbohydrate food that is soft and easy for digestion. If you’ve been suffering from an upset stomach, try slowly eating a banana to get your stomach to settle.
8. Enjoy better heart health.
The potassium contained in bananas has plenty of benefits, including some great heart health perks. Evidence shows that eating bananas can lower your blood pressure, which reduces incidents of heart disease or heart attack. Experts also believe that eating bananas regularly can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. Low levels of potassium have been linked to heart disturbances, so keep your potassium boosted with a heart-friendly snack of banana.
9. Increase happiness levels.
Bananas are believed to boost your mood because of their vitamin B9, folate. The folate aids with serotonin, which boosts your happiness quotient. Studies show that individuals who suffer from depression have low levels of serotonin, and they may benefit from having bananas regularly. While bananas aren’t intended to replace depression or anxiety medication, they may very well be something you can talk about your doctor.
10. Replace your sports drink.
If you regularly grab a sports drink after a workout or intense physical activity, you may be better off with a banana. Traditional sports drinks have nothing on bananas, which can help you replenish the nutrients and energy you need. You’ll find antioxidants, vitamin B6, and simple carbohydrates are just a few things that are great for your post-workout fix — they’re all in a banana.
11. Protect against free radicals.
Free radicals can take their toll on your body, but the antioxidants in each banana can provide protection against them. The antioxidants prevent damage from the free radicals and improve your overall health, plus aid in anti-aging properties too. Go ahead and make a banana mask to enjoy the anti-aging benefits right on your skin.
12. Lower risk of kidney disease.
Potassium is needed for healthy functioning kidneys, and bananas, as you may know, are an excellent source of potassium. Researchers have studied the effects of bananas reducing risk of kidney illness, and found that women who ate bananas 2 to 3 times a week had a 33% decrease in their chance of developing kidney disease, while another study found that those individuals who ate 4 to 6 bananas a week were nearly 50% less likely to develop the disease.
13. Boost your immune system.
During flu and cold season, a banana will go on a long way toward helping your immune health. Your immune system needs to be strong enough to fight off disease, so having a diet that’s rich in nutrients will help. The banana contains a good deal of these nutrients, including iron, zinc, Vitamin A and more. Throw a banana in your salad or smoothies regularly to enjoy the immune boost.
14. Kick up your calcium and bone strength.
Bananas are a powerful ally for your bones, as bananas’ potassium help with stronger bones. Studies show that diets high in potassium can lead to a lower chance of osteoporosis. The other big ingredient in bananas, manganese, can help reduce incidents of arthritis. Stronger bones mean less chance of fracture or breaking, so eat up because a banana can help you improve your calcium absorption.
15. Help with acid reflux.
Acid reflux can be a painful condition, but bananas are a natural fighter against this burning sensation. Eating a banana regularly will help protect against developing acid reflux as the banana will neutralize acids in the stomach by coating the stomach. The potassium will help your body better digest foods as well.