Bananas -- Top 8 Heath Benefits
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August 29, 2012


By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist




Don’t overlook the banana – this simple, common fruit packs a
whole heap of health benefits under its yellow peel. Unwrap
this ready-packaged snack and you’ll benefit from an energy
boost, intestinal protection and even a lower risk of stroke
among other health benefits.

One of the reasons eating bananas is so beneficial is because
bananas are high  in potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte and
we need it to help our bodies function. One banana contains
more than 300mg of potassium (the recommended daily intake
according to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of
Medicine is 4,700 mg per day for males and females over the
age of 14.) Bananas also contain antioxidants, fiber, vitamins
and minerals.

We’ve looked at the scientific evidence behind bananas. What
we've learned will elevate your regard for the common banana
-- it's a superfood. Here are the top health benefits of eating
bananas:
























1.
Eating Bananas Can Lower Your Risk of Stroke

Bananas are packed with potassium, and potassium plays a role
in decreasing the likelihood of stroke. A 2002 study from The
Queen's Medical Center, Honolulu showed low potassium levels
and intake are risk factors for stroke. Researchers looked at
5,600 people above the age of 65 over four to eight years and
monitored their potassium intake and use of diuretics (diuretic
drugs can cause potassium levels to drop).

There was an increased risk of stroke associated with low
potassium intake and low potassium levels through use of
diuretics.  And a 2001 National Health and Nutrition
Examination Survey by Tulane University School of Public
Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans also demonstrated
that low dietary potassium intake is associated with an
increased risk of stroke. Help lower your risk by adding a
banana to your daily diet.

2.
Could Bananas Help Crohn’s Sufferers?

Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that causes intestinal
inflammation, bleeding, pain and diarrhea. The disease is
notoriously difficult to manage but researchers are working on
a new product made from plantain (banana) fibers that could
help sufferers.

Crohn’s sufferers are believed to have higher levels of a type of
E.coli in the gut and a lessened ability to fight off bacteria in the
intestines. Researchers from the Liverpool Biomedical Research
Centre, UK (2010) found plantain fibers prevented the uptake
and transportation of E.coli and helped the body fight off
bacteria.

3.
Bananas for Exercise

If you watch tennis on TV you’ve probably seen the athletes
taking a bite of banana between games. So are bananas good
for us when we exercise? Bananas are a favored source of
energy for hikers, bikers and sportspeople because they are
both rich in nutrients and easy to carry and eat.

A 2012 study from the Appalachian State University's Human
Performance Lab in North Carolina showed bananas were more
beneficial during exercise than a carbohydrate sports drink.
Both the drink and the banana delivered performance benefits
in terms of energy but in addition bananas provided
antioxidants, fiber, potassium and vitamin B6. Bananas also
have a healthier blend of sugars than sports drinks. So, pack a
banana in your gym bag next time you hit the treadmill.

4.
Bananas to Lower High Blood Pressure

According to certain studies, such as a 1997 report from The
Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health,
Baltimore and a 2001 study from the Chinese Academy of
Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing,
potassium can produce a drop in blood pressure. Researchers
said increased potassium intake, including from bananas,
should be considered as a recommendation for the prevention
and treatment of hypertension, especially in those who are
unable to reduce their intake of sodium.

5.
Green Bananas for Diarrhea

Eating bananas is a good move if you are suffering from a case
of diarrhea. When you have diarrhea your body is quickly
depleted of valuable electrolytes and nutrients – eating a
banana replenishes your electrolyte stores and helps regulate
your fluid balance. Bananas can help children and adults in
parts of the world where diarrhea kills – a 2010 study from
ICDDR,B, Dhaka, Bangladesh found a diet supplemented with
green bananas treated acute and prolonged diarrhea in
children, speeding recovery and helping conserve nutrients in
the body.  

6.
Bananas Offer Ulcer Protection

Bananas are recognized for their soothing antacid effect and
ability to protect against stomach ulcers and damage from
ulcers. When mixed with milk, the benefits are even more
pronounced. A 1999 study from Aston University, Birmingham,
UK found a natural flavonoid present in unripe banana pulp
protects the stomach from aspirin-induced erosions. (Read
more about
natural remedies for stomach ulcers.)

7.
The Benefits of Green Banana Pasta

Pasta made from green bananas? Sounds pretty strange but
banana pasta is actually packed with health benefits – the pasta
makes a good alternative for people on gluten-free (celiac)
diets and it doesn’t taste too bad, either.

A 2012 study by Zandonadi, Botelho, Gandolfi et al analyzed
pasta made from green banana flour. The researchers found no
significant difference between standard pasta and the banana
pasta in terms of flavor, aroma and general quality.

8.
Watch Out – Bananas Have a High Sugar Content

While bananas are rich in health benefits you do need to be
careful with the fruit’s sugar content. Bananas are often
restricted in the diets of people with diabetes because of the
high content of free sugars. If you are on a calorie-restricted
diet you may already be aware of the need to eat bananas in
moderation and avoid eating bananas on an empty stomach –
combine the snack with a bit of protein to normalize insulin
response.

However, unripe bananas are less of a problem. According to
studies such as the 1992 research from the Department of
Endocrinology and Diabetes, Aarhus Amtssygehus, Denmark
unripe bananas have a higher starch content which changes to
free sugar as the banana ripens. Thus, under-ripe bananas give
a lower glycemic response.


Related:
Are Bananas Good for Swelling?
Foods That Shrink Your Waist / Exercises to Increase Your
Bowel Movements /  Why Your Waist Size Matters / Normal
Waist Size/Bowel Movements Indicate Your Overall Health  / 3
Keys to Normal Bowels  /  The Bowel Color Chart--What The
Color Means /
Why Americans Read In Bathrooms-The Hidden Epidemic of
Constipation  / Child Constipation -Top 10 Natural Remedies

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bananas health benefits
Eating bananas can help reduce your risk of stroke.