This is in continuation of the previous article Banana - Killer or a Filler, here are the top 10 health benefits of having Banana in your daily diet:
Potassium is an essential mineral which maintains proper heart function and regulates your blood pressure. Potassium-rich foods such as bananas actually offset the effect of sodium (salt) in raising your blood pressure. This, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke. Bananas’ potassium content also benefits your kidneys and bones. Increased potassium intake suppresses calcium excretion in the urine, preventing painful kidney stones. Decreased calcium excretion means more calcium to preserve your bones. This means a banana or two a day can reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and brittle bones.
Increased Energy: Sports drinks, energy bars and electrolyte gels are extremely popular nowadays, however you often see professional athletes eating bananas just before and even during their sports. Watching tennis for instance, it’s not uncommon to see the players snacking on a piece of banana in between games. If a banana can keep a professional tennis player going, it must rank highly as a healthy energy source. Bananas’ natural sugars balanced with soluble fiber give me a slow, stable energy release when eaten half an hour before you hit the gym. Some people are worried about bananas spiking blood sugar, but tests show they actually have a glycemic index of around 52, with 24 g of available carbs (lower the less ripe they are). That’s a glycemic load in the vicinity of 12 which isn’t considered that high. These figures will obviously vary depending on variety and ripeness. Bananas make a great work snack to combat that mid-afternoon slump. They’re a good choice for weight loss too - a small banana contains about 100 calories and will satisfy your sweet cravings. If you can replace candy bars and other junk foods with bananas, it’s a helpful step towards losing weight. Not only will your body thank you for the vitamin and mineral boost but the energy release will be much more consistent.
Improves Digestion: Most of us don’t get nearly enough fiber in our diets. Fiber is needed to help food travel smoothly through the digestive tract. It also improves your bowel movements. Bananas are a great source of dietary fiber. A couple of bananas is a better choice than taking a laxative to treat occasional constipation. Turning to another important element of digestion, bananas are rich in fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS). FOS is a prebiotic - i.e. it feeds the important “friendly” bacteria that live in your digestive tract. These bacteria help us absorb nutrients more efficiently.
Cure for Ulcers & Heartburn: Bananas are a known cure for heartburn. They help balance your stomach’s pH and enhance the protective mucus layer, relieving pain. The fiber content also moves food through your digestive tract faster - preventing reflux. Eating bananas regularly may help protect against stomach ulcers. Over the long term, bananas thicken the protective mucus barrier in the stomach, preventing damage from hydrochloric acid. Bananas also contain protease inhibitors that help eliminate stomach bacteria which can cause stomach ulcers.
Vitamin B6: Bananas are particularly high in vitamin B6. This vitamin is important for creating hemoglobin for healthy blood. B6 is also involved in maintaining proper blood sugar levels, synthesizing and breaking down amino acids and producing antibodies for a stronger immune response in your body. Just one banana has a full fifth of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B6. And they taste much better than vitamin pills too!
Skin Conditions: Even the banana’s skin has its uses. It is great for treating skin conditions like psoriasis and acne. Rub the freshly peeled inside of the banana skin gently over the affected area and leave the residue to be absorbed. The fatty acid content of the banana skin helps relieves a variety of skin conditions, as well as having a strong moisturizing effect. Banana peel treatments are a traditional remedy to heal warts. Rub a small piece of banana peel over the wart and then tightly tape it in place. Leave it overnight and repeat this process for at least a week or until the wart disappears.
Other Vitamins & Minerals: In addition to the high levels of potassium and vitamin B6 mentioned above, bananas also have high levels of vitamin C, magnesium and manganese. They are also a source of most of the other B vitamins and smaller amounts of trace minerals like iodine, iron, selenium and zinc.
A Cancer Fighter: Recent Japanese animal research linked bananas that are fully ripe (with dark spots) to production of a compound called TNF–a. This is a cytokine believed to have the potential to increase white blood cell count, thus enhancing your immunity and combating cancerous cell changes.
Improves Mood and Reduces Stress: Bananas are a good source of the amino acid tryptophan which your body converts to serotonin. Amongst many other things, proper serotonin levels help improve your mood, reduce stress and enhance your general outlook and happiness levels. It also helps regulate your sleep patterns. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid because the only way your body gets it is through your diet. Bananas, while certainly not the highest source out there, are one of the easiest ways to get a little more tryptophan. Another reason why bananas make such a great snack for when you’re feeling stressed out at work
Hangover Cure: Bananas are a great choice for mornings when you’ve overdone it a bit the night before. A couple of bananas blended with ice, berries and coconut milk or cow’s milk makes a really good hangover recovery drink. Just about all of the health benefits we’ve discussed come into play here. Of course the better solution is not to drink so much the night before. But just in case, it’s good to have some bananas around for the next morning.
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