Bananas are extremely healthy and delicious. They contain several essential nutrients, and have benefits for digestion, heart health and weight loss.
In India, it is given much importance where various regional cuisines use it in making sinful desserts – kheer, malpua, halwa, payasam, sheera, and paniyaram, to name a few. Most of us know they’re a great source of potassium but I’m going to share some of the more surprising banana health benefits – my favourite is hangover cure! Read on for 10 banana health benefits that will give you more energy, improved digestion and even improve the way you look and feel.
High Fiber Content:
Banana is loaded with fiber, both soluble and insoluble. The soluble fiber has the tendency to slow down digestion and keep you feeling full for a longer time. Which is why bananas are often included in a breakfast meal so that you can start about your day without having to worry about the next meal.
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.
I’ve experimented with this myself – working out with, or without a banana – and seem to consistently do better when I have one before training. Bananas’ natural sugars balanced with soluble fiber give me a slow, stable energy release when eaten half an hour before I 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.
High fiber foods are said to be good for the heart. According to a study done by University of Leeds in UK, increasing consumption of fiber-rich foods such as bananas can lower risk of both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease.
Ease in Digestion:
According to Ayurveda, banana has a sweet and sour taste. The sweet taste is said to bring about a sense of heaviness but the sour taste is known to stimulate agni (the digestive juices), thereby supporting digestion and helping in building up metabolism.
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.
It is a known fact that salt is the evil when it comes to high blood pressure. Bananas have low salt content and high potassium content, and these properties contribute to making it ideal for those undergoing this condition.
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 relieve a variety of skin conditions, as well as having a strong moisturising effect.
In the case of psoriasis you may notice some further reddening initially, but this should improve after a few days of use. Patch test on a small area if you have any concerns. It usually takes several weeks to see the full benefit from this treatment.
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.
Many testimonials online have reported good results with these simple treatments, though results with natural cures can be varied. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who’s tried any of these techniques for themselves.
Helps Fight Anaemia
Due to the high iron content in bananas, they are good for those suffering from anaemia. Anaemia is a condition where there is a decrease in the number of red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood. This leads to fatigue, shortness of breath, and paleness.