Bananas are the among the first foods we’re introduced to as babies, and most of us continue eating them fairly regularly for our entire lives. Whether we slurp them up in smoothies, munch on them in bread, or eat them straight out of the skin, they’re a important part of many of our diets. But this humble fruit is often overlooked. Sure, trendy superfoods like kale, coconut oil, chia seeds, and quinoa may grab most of the health headlines. But the truth is, we’ve secretly been reaping the benefits of eating bananas for years. Below are nine health benefits of eating bananas of every day. (Some of them will surprise you!)
1. Bananas improve cardiovascular health.
High-fiber foods, such as bananas, are good for your health and have been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. In particular, the soluble fiber present in bananas is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. Adding bananas to a well-balanced diet will provide the extra vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your body needs.
2. Bananas lower high blood pressure.
Studies show that eating as few as three bananas a day may significantly lower blood pressure. Here’s why it works: Not only are bananas nearly sodium-free, a single banana contains about 422 mg of potassium. This helps neutralize the effect of other sodium-rich foods you may have in your diet. So while you should still eat a low-sodium diet, bananas will help counter that occasion bag of potato chips.
3. Bananas improve digestion.
Bananas are packed with fiber, which is important because the substance both slows down and regulates the digestive system. But what does this mean in practical terms? First, eating bananas every day eases the problem of constipation. And second, a slow digestive system also means you’ll feel full longer. So grab a banana before you head to work and you won’t need to eat before lunch.
4. Bananas improve GI tract heath.
Bananas aren’t only easy to digest, they’re also easy on the gastrointestinal tract. In fact they soothe the digestive tract and restore lost minerals from diarrhea. This is why bananas are part of the BRAT diet—bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast—that doctors recommend to treat diarrhea.
5. Bananas suppress hunger pangs.
Bananas don’t just fill you up, their aroma itself has been shown to suppress the appetite. Dr. Alan Hirsch of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago found that smelling bananas while you’re hungry can trick your brain into thinking you’ve actually eaten them. How cool is that?
6. Bananas help create healthy cells.
Bananas contain 20 percent of the recommended daily vitamin B6 intake for adults. And what does vitamin B6 do? First, it helps the body produce antibodies that fight infections. And second, it helps the creation of insulin, hemoglobin, and nonessential amino acids, which all promote the creation of healthy cells.
7. Bananas fight anemia.
Bananas are high in iron, which stimulates the production of hemoglobin in the blood and helps fight anemia. Which is important, because anemia—a condition marked by a deficiency of red blood cells or of hemoglobin in the blood—leads to fatigue, paleness, and shortness of breath.
8. Bananas are rich in Vitamin C.
While not usually thought of as a go-to source of vitamin C, a serving of bananas provides 15 percent of our daily requirement for this important vitamin. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that neutralizes harmful free radicals in the body. (These are uncharged atoms, molecules, or ions that constantly destroy cells in the body.) Vitamin C also aids in keeping blood vessels healthy and produces collagen that holds bones, muscles, and other tissues together.
9. Bananas make you happy.
Magnesium is a mineral that is directly related to happiness. Get enough and it lifts your mood and promotes good sleep. Eat a diet low in magnesium and you’re likely to suffer from anxiety, irritability, and depression. But don’t let that make you anxious—a medium-sized banana provides about 27 mg of magnesium. So the next time you’re feeling a little down, grab a banana. It will fill you up and may even cheer you up, too!
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