Banana Nutrition Concerns?

Bananas can be one perplexing food. We know that they are high in sugar- and that sugar is anything but good for us- but we also hear that they are full of important nutrients. So what’s the verdict on banana nutrition being healthy or not?

This is actually one of the questions I get asked most often, so allow me to explain more about the pros and cons of eating bananas

Bananas are indeed a great source of essential vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, fiber, and more. They are almost an ideal food for athletes and those who regularly exercise because of their quick-acting carbohydrate’s effect on our energy levels.

They can provide a quick source of energy before a workout and also vital post-workout nutrients that are needed to repair muscle and balance water retention. Additionally, bananas contain filling fiber too.

All of these benefits within one 100-calorie piece of fruit sounds like a good deal, but
bananas can also be tricky for certain people and may not be the best fruit choice for everyone.

Because bananas contain a relatively high amount of sugar and carbohydrates, but practically no protein or healthy fats, they can quickly spike blood sugar levels. This is a problem for anyone who has a form of insulin resistance, including those who are pre-diabetic or who have diabetes. Therefore bananas make a great fruit choice for most people, but not all.

If you are someone who is otherwise healthy and relatively active, bananas are a smart and beneficial food choice to add to your diet. However if you have sensitives to insulin, trouble managing blood sugar, and substantial weight to lose, you may want to go with other fruit and food options over bananas.

Banana Nutrition Benefits

Because bananas have both positive and negative attributes, let’s first focus on the positives of banana nutrition.

One medium size banana has roughly (in daily recommended values):

  • 110 calories
  • 0.5 grams of fat
  • 27 grams of carbohydrates
  • 14 grams of sugar
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 25% vitamin B6
  • 16% manganese
  • 14% vitamin C
  • 12% potassium
  • 12% fiber
  • 10% copper
  • 10% biotin
  • 8% magnesium
Banana Nutrition facts infographic

Top Banana Health Benefits 

Bananas also have many amazing health benefits to the body such as:

woman jumping rope

1. Boosting Energy

Bananas are a great pick-me-up snack because they provide carbohydrate in the form of quick-releasing sugars which your body can use for energy. After a workout, your body uses carbohydrates to refuel and repair muscle fibers that have been broken down.

After exercising, banana nutrition contains sugar molecules that are able to reach muscle tissues fast right when they are needed most. This helps restore glucose reserves quickly, which is vital for giving your body the energy it needs to build muscle and strength. Bananas are useful either before exercise or immediately after, providing your body with the sufficient carbs and nutrients that it needs.

Instead of relying on sugary snacks or sports drinks surrounding your workouts, or during your afternoon energy “slump”, try having a banana instead. At just 100 calories, bananas make a great pre or post workout snack choice, especially considering they are a whole food and contain no processed or artificial ingredients like many packaged snacks do.

2. Loaded with Potassium

Bananas are one of the richest sources of potassium in the world, with about 500 mg of potassium per banana. Potassium is another nutrient that is crucial for those who are physically active, but also for everyone else too. Potassium acts as an electrolyte and promotes circulatory health, helps to manage blow flow and hydration levels within the body, and helps oxygen to reach your cells.

Potassium is useful in preventing high blood pressure and decreases the risks for heart disease and strokes because it regulates circulation, sodium, and water retention within the body. Potassium helps to lower high blood pressure because it counteracts the effect of sodium within the blood. Fortunately, studies have shown that the best way to benefit from potassium is to consume more of it naturally though whole food sources, especially fruits and vegetables.

Potassium also assists in the prevention of muscle cramping following exercise and helps you to heal and build muscle. This makes it an important nutrient for anyone who is especially physically active or who is recovering from an injury.

Additionally, the high amount of potassium found in bananas has been correlated with helping to decrease symptoms associated with kidney stones, gout, ADHD, black pain, headaches, and more.

3. Helps Improve Digestive Health

woman's hands on stomach

Each banana contains about 3 grams of fiber, which is roughly 10% of the daily fiber you should be consuming. The fiber in bananas helps to prevent constipation, bloating, and other unwanted digestive symptoms. Fiber helps to regulate restoration and maintenance of regular bowel functions because it binds to waste and toxins within the digestive tract, helping to pull them out of the body.

Dietary fiber also importantly helps you to feel full for longer. This is another reason why bananas can make a great snack, especially when you’re on the go and need something portable to throw into your bag. Another benefit of banana’s high fiber content? Studies have found that a diet high in dietary fiber is protective against heart disease, cardiac arrest, and stroke.

Fiber helps to reduce inflammation as it removes waste and toxins from the body, keeping arteries clear from dangerous plague build-up. Additionally, bananas are easy to digest and can help prevent cases of diarrhea. This is because of their starches and fiber which can help to bind waste within your digestive tract, while their potassium facilitates in balancing water retention in the gut and keeping you from becoming dehydrated.

4. Can Help Boost Your Mood

Bananas contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which is facilitates in the regulation of serotonin, one of our main “happy hormones”. Healthy levels of serotonin work to lift your mood and prevent mood disorders including anxiety and depression. Banana nutrition also includes antioxidants that help with the release of dopamine within the brain, another mood enhancing hormone. Regularly consuming bananas can help to increase your energy, prevent fatigue from over-exerting yourself, and to keep a positive mindset.

brain anatomy, brain health

5. Good Source of Brain, Skin, and Bone Health-Boosting Manganese

Banana nutrition can benefit your brain, skin and bones because just one banana contains 16% of the manganese you need for the day plus it is a good source of Vitamin C (about 14%DV) that aids in collagen production to keep you looking young.

Manganese is important for many functions within the body, including maintaining healthy skin, keeping the skeletal structure strong, maintaining proper brain function, and reducing free radical damage.

Studies have shown that manganese can help with healthy brain function and to prevent conditions including epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. Some animal studies have shown that low levels of manganese contribute to poor bone health and possibly evn conditions like osteoporosis.

Manganese benefits the health and appearance of your skin by contributing to the production of collagen, an important structural component that maintains skin’s youthful appearance and elasticity. Manganese also acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, two crucial properties that are useful in naturally slowing aging since they reduce free radical damage and oxidative stress.

6. Affordable, Portable, Low in Calorie Snack Choice

Bananas are low in calories with only about 100-110 calories for one medium size banana. Compared to many other processed or high calorie snack choices, bananas make a great healthy snack because they are pre-portioned and full of nutrients and fiber. This makes bananas a good choice for anyone who is watching their calorie intake in order to lose weight.sliced banana

Because bananas contain high amounts of fiber and have a high water content, they can help to fill you up and keep you from snacking on other processed foods between meals. This makes bananas a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth with something completely unprocessed, without derailing your weight loss efforts too much.

While it may be difficult to clean something like berries, put them in a container, and take them along with you as a snack, bananas are easily portable and don’t need to be refrigerated.

Try keeping them at work on your desk, in your gym bag, or even in your car as an “in case of emergency” snack to ward off hunger between meals and lessen the chances of you later overeating. Another benefit of bananas? They are one of the least expensive varieties of fruit you can buy; even organic bananas are usually very affordable.

I do however caution people to consume bananas in moderation if weight loss is your first health priority, since the sugar content of bananas can impact your blood glucose levels and potentially lead to food cravings or energy spikes and dips.

If you are going to have a banana as a snack, try combing with it a source of healthy fat or protein to slow down the release of its sugars into your blood stream. Adding some almond butter, coconut, or protein powder to your banana snack can make it even more filling and impact your glucose levels less abruptly.

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