Are bananas good for you? YES, they most certainly are, and below are 10 little known facts about the banana that will get you rushing to the fruit bowl in a jiffy.
Bananas naturally come conveniently packaged and are at their most nutrient dense when eaten raw and straight out of their skin. Bananas are wonderfully versatile and taste delicious fresh, dried, or cooked and made into different sweet and savory dishes.
The Ripeness Spectrum
As you’ve probably noticed, banana’s come in different degrees of ripeness. On one end of the spectrum you have an unripened, firm green banana, and on the other end they can be very ripe and yellow with brown spots. These two are poles apart both nutritionally and sugar content wise, so as they both have different pro’s and con’s it’s important to know the difference.
PRO’S AND CON’S OF A RIPE BANANA
- Easier to digest due to the fact that the bananas starches have turned into simple sugars.
- The more they ripen, the higher they become in antioxidants (a good thing).
- They are not suitable for diabetics, as the riper the banana the higher the GI. (GI is short for glycemic index, which is a number associated with the amount of sugar/carbohydrates in food. The system rates on a scale of 1-100 and anything under 50 is considered low GI. Really ripe bananas come in at around 60, unripe around 30 and the average banana 51).
- The ripe banana is not as good for weight loss due to its higher GI.
Read here my list of low GIycemic foods that are suitable for diabetics, and those trying to lose belly fat specifically. It is recommended you eat these foods to help with long term health and weight control.
PRO’S AND CON’S OF AN UNRIPE BANANA
- Their low resistant starch content makes them low GI, and good for diabetics or anyone on a low sugar diet.
- Probiotic bacteria – unripe bananas contain a healthy bacterium that is very good for the colon.
- Unripe bananas help you to absorb other nutrients more effectively, especially calcium.
- In conclusion to this, unless you have specific needs you should generally go for the medium ripened yellow banana as You will get some of the nutritional benefits of both worlds.
ARE BANANAS GOOD FOR YOU – 10 LITTLE KNOWN FACTS
1. INSTANT ENERGY
1 medium banana contains around 90 calories and will give you both a mental and physical boost, this is due to its low GI sustained energy release making it a perfect pudding, between meal snack, or pre/post workout snack.
Eat them with a little protein such as peanut butter for more sustained energy.
2. HIGH FIBER
Bananas are a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber which means they will give you a feeling of fullness very quickly. Great to have at breakfast as a nutritious start to the day – slice them onto your cereal, in oatmeal, or mash onto toast with some sugar free peanut butter for added protein. This will for sure keep you full up until lunch.
3. A NUTRITIONAL POWERHOUSE
Bananas are a nutritional powerhouse of vitamin B6, maganese, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and folate – they are also packed with fiber which helps keep your system ‘cleaned out‘.
4. GOOD FOR DIGESTION
Because of their pectin content bananas are great for easing stomach problems such as diarrhea. They help to soothe an upset stomach and replace any potassium and electrolytes that may be lost due to a bout of sickness, or a bug.
Bananas are perfect added to a healthy breakfast along with other fruits, nuts and seeds.
5. BRILLIANT SOURCE OF POTASSIUM
Probably the thing bananas are most famous for is their high potassium content, and with good reason, as 1 banana contains at least 20% of your RDA. This nutrient is needed for heart health as it regulates both the heartbeat and blood pressure.
Potassium is also great for keeping the brain sharp and alert.
6. HELPS ANEMIA
Bananas are high in iron so they are a good choice for those suffering from anemia. As with all food products, many of the nutrients have a higher availability in the body when they are in their natural whole form as this makes them more readily absorbed.
7. HELPS REDUCE BLOOD SUGAR
This is more the case in more unripe bananas due to their fiber called pectin and their resistant starch content. Both of these help to moderate blood sugar levels, making them an excellent choice for diabetics and anybody with blood sugar issues.
8. GUT FRIENDLY
The pectin and resistant starch in an unripe banana has a prebiotic effect, meaning it increases healthy gut bacteria, thus reducing bloating and easing IBS and other digestive disorders.
9. ANTI AGING
Like all other fruits and vegetables, bananas contain antioxidants. In fact, a banana contains the potent antioxidants dopamine and catechins, both of which offer a reduced chance of heart disease and other degenerative diseases.
10. MOOD BOOSTER
Due to their high levels of tryptophan, which converts to serotonin in the body, bananas can make you happy and alleviate depression. Serotonin is the ‘happy hormone‘ that we all need adequate levels of to feel good.
Also, bananas may work on another level because they keep your gut healthy, there has been lots of research and new evidence come to light about how a healthy gut equates to a healthy mind. It has been found that those with a healthy gut microbiome are much less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than those who don’t.