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Bananas are one of nature’s great snack foods, but did you know just how good for you they are and how many different and unusual uses they can have? Ahead are 8 banana health benefits for more energy, better health and even improving the way you look and feel.
1. Blood pressure
Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure, however increasing potassium intake may be just as important because of its vasodilation effects. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, fewer than 2% of US adults meet the daily 4700 mg recommendation.
Also of note, a high potassium intake is associated with a 20% decreased risk of dying from all causes.
Consuming bananas, oranges and orange juice in the first two years of life may reduce the risk of developing childhood leukemia. As a good source of vitamin C, bananas can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. High fiber intakes from fruits and vegetables like bananas are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
3. Heart health
The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6 content in bananas all support heart health. An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium intake is the most important dietary change that a person can make to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, according to Mark Houston, MD, MS, an associate clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Medical School and director of the Hypertension Institute at St Thomas Hospital in Tennessee.
In one study, those who consumed 4069 mg of potassium per day had a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium (about 1000 mg per day).
High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.
Studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. One medium banana provides about 3 grams of fiber.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21-25 g/day for women and 30-38 g/day for men.
5. Preserving memory and boosting mood
Bananas also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that studies suggest plays a role in preserving memory and boosting your mood.
6. More Energy
Even with the proliferation of brightly colored ‘sports’ drinks, ‘energy’ bars and ‘electrolyte’ gels (these are loaded with unhealthy chemicals and coloring by the way) you often see athletes eating bananas just before and even during sports.
7. Vitamins and Minerals
Alongside the high levels of potassium and vitamin B6 already mentioned, bananas also have good levels of vitamin C, magnesium and manganese.
They are also a source of most of the other B vitamins and smaller amounts of trace minerals like iodine, iron, selenium and zinc.
8. Improving your Mood and Reducing Stress
Bananas are a good source of the amino acid tryptophan which your body converts to serotonin.
Amongst many other things, proper serotonin levels help improve your mood, reduce stress and enhance your general outlook and happiness levels. It also helps regulate good sleep patterns.
Tryptophan is considered an essential amino acid because the only way your body gets it is through your diet. Bananas, while certainly not the highest source out there, are one of the easiest ways to get a little more tryptophan. Another reason why bananas make such a great snack for those stressed out at work.
2016.03.05 / 11:47