5 Amazing Benefits of Bananas
Bananas are a wonderful super food and fantastic for our health. Chances are, if you're anywhere near the chatter of the health food world or bodybuilding world, then you've likely heard at least a little bit about this fruit's amazing benefits from it's wonderful antioxidants, essential vitamins and minerals, or even the versatility it has in many different meals. Bananas can be eaten alone, cooked in dessert dishes, or utilized in many different breakfast meals from cereals to smoothies. No matter what you do with a banana, there's no denying how fantastic it is for your body and how easy it is to eat when you're in need of a quick pick-me-up during the day.
There is some confusion when it comes to the name of bananas. Many countries often call this yellow fruit a “plantain” especially when it is used in cooking.
Despite a lack of distinction between the two, there are still two different main types of bananas that are exported throughout the world.
The first on the list is the softer, sweeter “dessert bananas”, which we are accustomed to in our grocery store shelves in both the Americas and Europe. This is what many of us pick up for our breakfast and post-workout energy boosts. Then, there are true plantains, which are firmer and starchier. These are often found in many “banana” dishes of high-end restaurants, or hot dessert recipes.
Plantains are much more suited to cooking, keeping their firmness throughout heating, whereas dessert bananas are more likely to turn to mush.
Where Do Bananas Come From?
Even though the two are different, bananas and plantains are often lumped together as a single export, so for ease, we'll call both of them “bananas” for now.
Bananas are cultivated and exported by many different countries and depending on the type of your banana it could come from a number of different countries. Many grocery store stickers may say “Product of Chile”, though you may find other countries on that sticker ranging anywhere from India, China, the Philippines, or Cameroon.
The country that exports the most bananas, and has for years, is Ecuador. This country had $2.8 billion US dollars worth of banana exports in 2015 alone. Belgium is a close runner-up with $958.1 million dollars worth of banana exports. That's a lot of bananas and plantains to keep track of.
What Should I Look For?
A banana is not quite ripe when it is still green, it is ripe when it is yellow, and it is overripe when it is covered in brown spots. The riper the fruit, the squishier and sweeter it will taste.
When looking for a ripe banana, you need to consider how ripe the fruit will be when you intend to use it. Bananas and plantains ripen very quickly when exposed to sunlight, but can still go from ripe to overripe within a week in darkness.
It's best to choose a banana that is yellow with some green still on the top to give yourself a few days until they are ripe.
1. Bananas Are Packed with Essential Nutrients
Bananas are packed with essential nutrients and antioxidants that your body needs to maintain functioning properly. Some of the vitamins include potassium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B6, Magnesium, fiber, protein, copper, and even manganese.
2. Gives Your Body Energy
Bananas, on average, contain 0.04 grams of healthy fats and 105 calories to help energize your body.
Being almost entirely carbs and water content, the fruit itself has no indigestible fillers, meaning the fruit is geared to helping energize your body for the day.
This is a great fruit to include in your morning smoothie or post-workout energy. In fact, bananas have often been said to give you enough energy for a 90-minute workout.
3. Helps You Concentrate
Bananas are fantastic brain food. It helps regulate your mood through two compounds called tryptophan and tyrosine, which are amino acids your body utilizes to create serotonin and dopamine (otherwise known as the chemicals that make you feel happy.)
It doesn't stop there either – thanks to the vitamin B6 bananas contain, your brain's cognitive function improves. This means if you're studying up on a subject, it's good to eat a large banana beforehand. One large banana contains around 0.5 milligrams of vitamin B6, and the Institute of Medicine recommends 2 milligrams and 1.5 milligrams for women, both per day, to help maintain a healthy memory and brain function.
4. Helps Moderate Blood Sugar
Some studies suggest that under-ripe bananas may help moderate blood sugar, and in most cases is harmless to diabetic diets. One small banana per day may even be able to help lower your blood glucose levels if they are too high. This is fantastic news for people who are strained for breakfast ideas but also need to monitor their daily blood sugar levels, helping provide a sweeter-tasting option for the mornings. With this fruit's fantastic antioxidants, it's also incredibly healthy for you.
5. Improves Heart Health
When it comes to heart health, bananas are high in potassium which can help lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that people who eat enough potassium on a daily basis have up to a 27% lower risk of heart disease than people who consume too little potassium.
This is incredible news, and beyond that bananas are also a good dietary source of magnesium which also contributes to a healthy heart. Whether you're predisposed to cardiovascular health problems or not, it's never too early to start taking care of your health.