Recent information might indicate that a banana a day might keep the doctor away. One medium-size banana contains only 100 calories and has many essential vitamins and minerals. Bananas provide vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. In fact, one banana can provide upward of 400 mg of potassium. The high potassium content in a banana is associated with the ability to control high blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known as the silent killer. You might not know you have it until it is too late. Hypertension can negatively affect the brain, eyes, kidneys, blood vessels and heart. Regular blood pressure readings are the only way to determine if your blood pressure is healthy. If your blood pressure continually measures greater than 140/90 mmHg, you can be considered hypertensive.
Bananas and Blood Pressure
Bananas contain a large amount of potassium, which has been found to help control blood pressure. A study by P.K. Whelton and colleagues that was published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" showed that increasing your daily potassium intake can be enough to lower your systolic pressure by 3 mmHg and your diastolic pressure nearly 2 mmHg.
Potassium is a mineral responsible for maintenance of fluid and electrolyte balance in the blood and around your cells. Potassium interacts with other minerals, the most influential being sodium. A high intake of sodium causes your body to retain water, increasing your blood pressure. Potassium works to reduce the water retention caused by sodium. Your physiology is composed of many checks and balances, and the relationship between sodium and potassium is a very important one.
The best way to lower your blood pressure is by changing your diet and including physical activity. Reducing your sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,300 mg per day can reduce water retention and lower your blood pressure. However, for people who cannot reduce sodium intake, increasing potassium intake is beneficial. The daily recommendation for potassium intake for an adult is 4,700 mg per day. Maintaining this can help control your blood pressure.
- USDA: Bananas
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: Effect of High Blood Pressure
- "Journal of the American Medical Association"; Effects of Oral Potassium on Blood Pressure: Meta-Analysis of Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trials; PK Whelton, et al.; 1997
- BBC News Health: Two Bananas A Day Keep Blood Pressure at Bay
- American Heart Association: Potassium and High Blood Pressure
- "Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH"; DASH Eating Plan; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2006