Oh the banana. I'm the first to say I love bananas, but I don't like banana-flavored things. If I'm going to have a banana I want it as a banana, not banana juice, or flavoring, or supplement. Bananas are the kale of the fruit world with all their vitamins, minerals, and incredible health benefits.
Bananas have loads of nutritional benefits, and they are easy on the digestive system. Since bananas are high in potassium they help maintain normal blood pressure and heart function. They also contain small amounts of fat called sterols which look similar to cholesterol, but block the absorption of dietary cholesterol, keeping our blood cholesterol levels in check. Bananas also have a high fiber content which helps lower cancer risks and can help those with diabetes. 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.
If I'm going for a lunchtime run I try to eat a banana about an hour before I go out. It gives me a boost of energy and stays with me longer than if I'd just eaten a piece of bread. If you're an active person, incorporating bananas into your daily diet should help you recover more quickly from workouts and help as an energy booster (have you noticed at the end of all half and full marathons there are boxes and boxes of bananas being handed out?). If you want to read about the extreme and a person who went on a fruitarian / 30 day / 900 banana diet read this link - trust me, its super interesting! Also, eating 1/2 a banana every 15 minutes during exercise is as comparable as drinking a sports drink. And another great reason to eat bananas before exercise the potassium in the banana helps you retain fluid in your body's cells, which can prevent muscle cramping.
Here's what one banana will give you:
- 105 calories
- 0.4 grams of fat
- 0 mg of cholesterol
- 422 mg of potassium (12% Daily Value) - helps heart, brain, kidney, and muscle tissue health
- 27 grams of carbohydrates
- 3.1 grams of dietary fiber (12% Daily Value)
- 1.3 grams of protein
- 17% Daily Value of Vitamin C
- 20% Daily Value of Vitamin B-6 - helps reduce heart disease by lowering levels of homocystein, an amino in the blood
So eat up! Or have some fun and make a few banana calls!