Triglycerides, a type of fat in your bloodstream, can make you more susceptible to heart attacks and strokes. Food in your diet directly affects the amount of triglycerides in your arteries. Foods high in fat and sugar can elevate your triglycerides to unhealthy levels. Bananas, virtually fat-free and low in sugar, can help you manage your cholesterol levels and protect yourself against cardiovascular disease.
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Keep your triglyceride levels below 150 milligrams/deciliter of blood. In April 2011, the American Heart Association lowered its “best” level of triglycerides to 100 milligrams/deciliter or less. Levels above 200 milligrams/deciliter put you at high risk for heart disease, and levels that go beyond 500 milligrams/deciliter put you at very high risk. To keep you triglycerides at healthy levels, restrict the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and alcohol in your diet.
American Heart Association Guidelines
The American Heart Association recommends you limit fructose intake to 50 grams to 100 grams daily to lower triglycerides. A medium banana contains 5.7 grams of fructose. You could eat eight bananas without reaching the AHA minimum fructose minimum and 17 bananas without exceeding the maximum. The AHA recommends bananas as a good fruit to eat on a triglyceride-lowering diet. It also recommends peaches, grapefruit and cantaloupe. Limit your consumption of dried fruits and super-sweet fruits such as watermelon and pineapple
Bananas protect your heart health in additional ways. A medium banana contains 3.1 grams of dietary fiber, making it a high-fiber food. Fiber in your diet can help you lose weight, and shedding unnecessary pounds can help you lower your triglycerides. Dietary fiber can also help lower your low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called LDL or “bad” cholesterol. The fiber in bananas can also help lower your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, two important factors in the health of your heart.
Bananas make easy take-along snack foods so you can easily pack one or two in your lunch bag or backpack. You could also make a healthy smoothie with bananas, strawberries, non-fat milk or yogurt and ice. The American Heart Association recommends you limit calories from foods with added sugar to 100 to 150 a day. Bananas can help keep you within guidelines. Top your breakfast cereal with sliced banana instead of sugar. Or, if you make homemade banana bread, add an extra banana to the recipe and use only half the sugar called for in the recipe.