Bananas: The humble fruit with umpteen health benefits
Bananas are often overlooked in favour of more exotic fruits, but this humble yellow fruit is packed with nutrients and health benefits. From aiding digestion and immunity to promoting heart health and brain function, bananas are a versatile and easily available fruit that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Here are some of the health benefits of bananas, as shared by Dr G Sushma, a consultant clinical dietician at CARE Hospitals in Hyderabad.
The nutritional profile of a banana
Per 118 grams, a banana contains:
– Calories: 105
– Carbohydrates: 27 grams
– Fiber: 3 grams
– Protein: 1 gram
– Fat: 0 grams
– Vitamin C: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
– Vitamin B6: 20% of the DV
– Potassium: 9% of the DV
– Magnesium: 8% of the DV
– Copper: 5% of the DV
– Manganese: 15% of the DV
Health benefits of bananas
1. Good source of fiber: Bananas contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, promoting digestive health and aiding in regular bowel movements.
2. Provides energy: The natural sugars in bananas, such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose, provide a quick source of energy.
3. Good for heart health: Bananas are rich in potassium which is essential for heart health, proper muscle function, and maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
4. Good for immunity and skin: Bananas are rich in vitamin C – an antioxidant that supports immune function and helps in the production of collagen for healthy skin.
5. Good for brain health: Bananas contain vitamin B6 which is important for brain development, hormone production, and immune system function.
6. Natural mood booster: Bananas contain tryptophan, which helps the body produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to mood regulation.
Eat bananas to beat constipation
Bananas can help relieve constipation due to their fiber content. “The soluble fiber in bananas absorbs water and adds bulk to the stool, facilitating its passage through the digestive system,” shared Dr Sushma. However, if you have chronic or severe constipation, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.
Can diabetics consume bananas?
People with diabetes can generally include bananas in their diet, but portion control is essential. “Bananas have a moderate glycemic index, which means they can cause a moderate increase in blood sugar levels,” shared Dr Sushma, adding that the glycemic response can vary depending on the ripeness of the banana.
Can bananas aid weight loss?
Despite being a delicious sweet treat, bananas can help in your weight loss journey. They not only make a great pre or post workout snack due to its nutrient levels and energy giving properties but also promote a feeling of fullness – which can help in weight loss. However, portion control is important due to their calorie content.
Things to keep in mind
In general, bananas can be a nutritious and versatile fruit to include in a well-rounded diet. However, individual dietary needs and health conditions may vary, so it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalised advice. “Remember that a balanced and varied diet, combined with regular physical activity, is key to maintaining good overall health,” concluded Dr Sushma.