Bananas are the most popular fresh fruit consumed in the United States, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They're inexpensive, convenient to consume and widely available year-round.
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Plus, they're packed with vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Take a closer look at the nutrient values of a banana, provided by the USDA Nutrient Database and based on a medium-sized banana ranging from 7 to 7.88 inches long (118 grams). This size banana contains approximately 105 calories.
The most prevalent mineral found in bananas is potassium. One banana contains over 400 milligrams of potassium, which accounts for more than 10 percent of the recommended daily intake, or RDI, based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Other minerals present in significant quantities include 32 milligrams magnesium, 1.2 microgram selenium, 26 milligrams phosphorus and 0.31 milligrams iron. Minerals present in trace amounts include calcium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, fluoride and selenium.
Bananas contain many vitamins in substantial as well as trace amounts. Those found in substantial quantities include vitamins C and B6. One banana contains 10.3 milligrams of vitamin C (10 percent of the RDI) and 0.43 milligrams of vitamin B6 (20 percent of the RDI).
Vitamins present in smaller percentages include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, choline, betaine, carotenoids, lutein, and vitamins A, E and K.
Amino acids are fundamental building blocks in the human body, used in the production of proteins and essential in cellular metabolism. The human body is composed of 20 amino acids but is able to synthesize only 10 of those.
The 9 essential amino acids that must be obtained from food are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Bananas contain all 9 of these essential amino acids. A deficiency in any amino acid can result in the degradation of the body's proteins and muscles.
When shopping for bananas, the most common type found is the Cavendish banana. This species is noticeably ripe when the peel turns bright yellow and remains firm. As the fruit over ripens, the skin turns brown and becomes soft.