A well-balanced diet including intake of fruits can keep you healthy. In fact, the USDA recommends that most adults get between 1.5 and 2 cups of fruit per day. Bananas may be an essential part of your daily fruit intake. Not only is a banana a low-calorie and low-fat snack, it may also contain elements to it that can improve and protect your cardiovascular and digestive health.
Bananas should be part of a healthy diet and are safe to include on a daily basis. One medium banana contains about 105 calories. There is just over 1 gram protein and less than 0.5 g of fat in one banana. There are nearly 27 g of carbs in a medium banana with 14 g of natural sugars and more than 3 g of fiber. Bananas also contain a host of important vitamin and minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, fluoride, vitamins C, K and B6, folate, beta carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and lutein.
Daily intake of bananas may reduce your risk of suffering from a stroke, according to a study published in the "American Academy of Neurology" in 2002. For four to eight years, 5,600 men and women, aged 65 or older, with no history of stroke were followed. Their diets and stroke incidents were analyzed and recorded. Those individuals with the lowest dietary potassium were 1.5 times more likely to suffer from a stroke. Low dietary potassium was considered less than 2.4 g per day.
Bananas may also influence the health of your cardiovascular system, keeping your blood pressure in a safe range. The potassium inside of a banana may be the way that bananas can improve cardiovascular health. Potassium supplements have long been praised for its ability to help lower blood pressure, a study published in "Hypertension" in 2005, proved that dietary potassium intake is just as effective as a potassium supplement. Potassium citrate, the type of potassium in food is as effective, if not more, than potassium chloride, the synthetic version of potassium. In fact, participants in this study were able to drop their pressure from an average of 151/93 to 138/88 while increasing dietary potassium citrate. This is a significant decrease for someone who is trying to lower blood pressure through lifestyle changes.
Bananas can be considered a good source of dietary fiber. The fiber inside a banana promotes gastrointestinal health. A diet high in fiber can help prevent constipation and reduce your risk of developing disease of the digestive system. Dietary fiber increases the size of your stools, making them easier to move through the intestines and easier to secrete. A larger stool also works the smooth muscles of the digestive system which may be enough to prevent hemorrhoids or diverticulitis.
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: How Much Fruit is Needed Daily?; USDA; 2011
- USDA.gov: One Raw Medium Banana
- Science Daily.com: Will A Banana A Day; 2002 Keep A Stroke Away? Low Potassium Intake May Increase Stroke Risk; 2002
- BBC News Health: Two Bananas A Day Keep Blood Pressure at Bay; 1999
- Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide: Potassium Lowers Blood Pressure; 2005
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse; Constipation; 2007