Are Bananas Good for Swelling?
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Last updated March 27, 2017 (originally published December 22, 2013)

By Susan M. Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Doctors,
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of
our Editorial Board

Bananas rank high as a convenient, healthy super food –
supplying easy energy and few calories. Did you know
bananas can also reduce swelling? Find out how bananas
benefit your extremities and reduce your waist size, and
you’ll never look at a banana in the same way again.

With the average American eating 27 pounds of bananas
every year (according to Chiquita Bananas), getting a
healthy dose of the fruit to prevent swelling is within your

Bananas through the Ages

Bananas were first recorded in literature as early as 327 BC
when the army of Alexander the Great documented the
growth of bananas, although whether the army used them
for health purposes is unknown.

The fruit is thought to have originated in Malaysia before
being introduced to Africa and then to Latin America by
Portuguese explorers. Most bananas are now grown in
South and Central America.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that people in the United
States got a taste of bananas, and then only those living in  
ports due to the fruit’s inability to travel well. In the 20th
century, with the development of refrigeration and rapid
transport, bananas became widely available.

Bananas and Nutrition

Bananas certainly pack a nutritional punch. Filled with three
natural sugars and fiber, the fruit provides sustained and
substantial energy and is often eaten by athletes to combat
fatigue and increase strength. Bananas also contain
vitamins and nutrients that help combat a number of health
conditions, including swelling or edema.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's
“Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling” one banana
contains around 0.43mg of vitamin B6 (a high level), 10.27
mg of vitamin C, 0.32mg of manganese, 3g of fiber, and 4.2
g of potassium.

Recently, another nutritional component of bananas has
drawn the attention of researchers. Bananas, in particular
green bananas, contain high amounts of "resistant starch".
Resistant starches are so-named because they "resist"
digestion in your small intestine and are only digested once
they reach your large intestine. These special starches,
unlike other simple carbohydrates, do not drive your blood
sugar levels up much, so they are more suitable for
diabetics. They also increase your bowel movements. For
these reasons, resistant starches are said to behave like
fiber rather than like other starches. (Read more about the
health benefits of resistant starches.)

How Bananas Help Reduce Swelling

Potassium is a key mineral in bananas that helps prevent
and combat swelling in the body. The average 4.2 grams of
potassium in bananas helps to reduce swelling, according
to many expert tests and studies.

In addition, the humble banana helps keep your body the
size it should be by minimizing swelling due to constipation,
pregnancy, diabetes, and digestive problems. The nutrients
in bananas are even said to help prevent swollen ankles.

How to Pick a Banana

If you want help with uncomfortable and unsightly
swelling, give bananas a try. Choose a firm banana that’s
free from bruises with its stem and tip intact.

Leave a green banana to ripen at room temperature, after
which you can store the fruit in the refrigerator or in the
freezer in the form of puree, or peeled and wrapped in
paper towel. And if you hate those stringy bits you get
when eating a banana here’s a tip – peel the banana from
the bottom up and you won’t have so many to deal with.

Green bananas differ from riper yellow bananas in the
amount of polyphenols they contain (which help fight
cancer), according to a 2013 study led by Dr. Christelle
Bruno Bonnet of the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane.
However,  there is no evidence to suggest that ripe
bananas are better or worse than green bananas in
reducing swelling.

Here are seven ways bananas help (and can possibly
hinder) swelling in your body. Read on for the latest
scientific discoveries into how bananas help your health by
minimizing swelling.

Potassium in Bananas Helps Swollen Ankles

Potassium is a mineral and one of the body’s major
electrolytes. Sodium is also an electrolyte and the two work
together – when the level of potassium goes up, sodium
goes down, and vice versa. According to a 2013 study by
Dr. P.K. Whelton, there is “abundant evidence that a
reduction in dietary sodium and increase in potassium
intake decreases blood pressure.”  

Because bananas contain high levels of potassium, eating
them helps keep your sodium levels in check. Too much
sodium can cause fluid build-up which contributes to high
blood pressure.

Swollen ankles are one sign of
high blood pressure,
although they can also be caused by prolonged standing
and vein problems – increase your intake of bananas to
combat fluid build-up.  

2. Bananas, Potassium and Diuretic Drugs
If you have high blood pressure you may be prescribed
diuretic drugs, which reduce fluid build-up and help
regulate blood pressure. However, these medications
deplete your body of potassium – eating bananas is one
way to reverse this negative side effect.

Bananas Reduce Pregnancy Swelling

During pregnancy the total level of water in your body
increases by 6 to 8 liters and at some stage in their
pregnancy 80 percent of women have clinical edema –
demonstrated levels of swelling, according to an article in
the June 1997 issue of “Kidney International” by JM

Eating foods high in potassium, like bananas, can make a
real difference to the swelling complication. Potassium is
also rumored to reduce leg cramps, a pregnancy side effect
that may also be linked to fluid retention.

Reduce Idiopathic Edema with Bananas

Idiopathic edema is the term used for fluid retention that
doesn’t have any other known medical cause. The reason
for idiopathic edema is not clear – sitting still for long
periods of time can worsen the problem, as can standing or
consuming a lot of salt.

Even after extensive research, the causes remain unclear,
according to experts such as MG Dunnigan, JB Henderson,
D Hole and AJ Pelosi in 2004. You can do something to
prevent swelling, however. Restrict the amount of salt you
eat and help reduce levels of sodium in the body by eating
potassium-rich foods like bananas.

Bananas Help Prevent Swelling Due to Dyspepsia

Dyspepsia is a term that describes many different digestive
problems like gas and bloating with no known medical

If you suffer from abdominal swelling and bloating when
there is no identifiable medical cause, try banana powder –
a 1990 study published in the Lancet by A. Arora and M.P.
Sharma describes how this traditional Indian food helps
symptom relief, including swelling, for people suffering
from dyspepsia.

Biotin in Bananas Helps Reduce Swelling in Diabetes

One side effect of diabetes is swelling in your feet and
ankles. You may also suffer swelling when you have
diabetes due to diabetic neuropathy – diabetic amyotrophy,
in particular, causes abdominal swelling.

Biotin, a water-soluble B vitamin found in bananas, may
help reduce the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, including
swelling, according to a 1990 study by D. Koutsikos, B.
Agroyannis, and H. Tzanatos-Exarchou.

Banana May Cause Swelling Due to Allergic Reactions

All is not perfect in the world of bananas. According to the
World Allergy Association, anaphylaxis, or severe
hypersensitive reaction, can be brought on by eating plant
foods such as banana

Anaphylaxis causes swelling of the lips, tongue, eyelids,
and throat and can be life-threatening. If you have a
ragweed pollen allergy or a latex allergy you may be
affected when you eat banana due to the close relationship
between the proteins found in both the pollen and the food.

The prevalence of banana allergies has been estimated to
range from 0.1% to 1.2%. However, among asthma
sufferers, 40.6% have banana sensitivities, according to a
2009 led by Dr. J. Mandal of the Bose Institute in India.

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