Health Benefits Of Bananas

What Are Bananas?

Bananas are one of the most powerful tropical fruit with high nutritional values. Common names of bananas are Musa balbisiana, Musa acuminate, Musa nana and Musa sapient. (1) There are more than 50 identified types of bananas.

Bananas originate from the tropical and subtropical regions (Africa, Asia, Americas, Canary Islands, Australia).

Health Benefits Of Bananas

Banana is a fruit with exceptional nutritional properties and it is widely used in therapeutic approaches.(2)

One medium sized banana is approximately 126 grams weight , 110 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of protein. Of vitamins and minerals there are B3 (0.78 mg), B6 (0.5 mg), vitamin C (9mg),potassium (450 mg), dietary fibers (3 g), protein (1 g), magnesium (34 mg), folate (25.0 mcg),calcium (5.90 mg), riboflavin (0.1 mg), niacin (0.8 mg), vitamin A (81 IU), iron (0.3 mg), copper (0.078 mg), zinc (0.15 mg), niacin (0.665 mg).

Phyto substances in bananas are carotene α (25 μg), carotene ß (26 μg), lutein-zeaxanthin (22 μg).

Bananas do not contain fat, cholesterol or sodium.

Health Benefits Of Bananas

1.Anticancer

The incidence of leukemia in children may be lower if their diet consists of bananas, oranges and orange juice in the first 2 years of life.

Due to high levels of vitamin C, bananas are good for elimination of free radicals that are one of the causes of cancer formation.

Lectins(4) contained in bananas may inhibit HIV-1 reverse transcriptase activity, therefore inhibit cancer cell survival and macrophage activity. (5)

2.May Prevent Colorectal Cancer

Diet rich in high fruit fibers is linked to decreased incidence of colorectal cancer.

3.Cardiovascular Effect

Bananas are high in fiber, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6, therefore extremely beneficial for cardiovascular health.

High potassium daily intake is in correlation with the reduced risk from ischemic heart events, as well as stroke. It has been estimated that individuals that consumed 4069 mg of potassium per day had a 49% lower mortality risk.(3)

4.Blood Pressure

Potassium is important for inducing vasodilatation of blood vessels. (3)

5.Asthma

In a study of the Imperial College of London it has been concluded that in children with a habit of eating one banana per day, the risk for developing asthma was 34% decreased.

6.High Antioxidative Potential

Bananas are great antioxidative fruits due to high levels of carbohydrates, fiber and polyphenols with antioxidant capacity.

7.Bones And Osteoporosis

Preserves bone mineral density due to high levels of potassium and other minerals.

Due to high levels of prebiotic, fructooligosaccharide, bananas stimulate calcium absorption in digestive system.

8.Enhances Wound Healing

Bananas show beneficial effects in local treatment of wound healing (burns).

9.Protects Against Premature Aging

Due to high levels of antioxidant nutrients, vitamins and minerals, bananas are great food for rejuvenation.

10.Protects Against Loss Of Muscle

Bananas are great source of nutrients for the post workout period. They are able to restore calcium and potassium. (6)

11.Lowers The Risk Of Kidney Stones

In case an individual eliminates high levels of potassium via urinary system, there is an increased risk of calcium-containing kidney stones.

High concentration of magnesium in bananas is able to prevent the synergistic effect of oxalate and potassium which decreases the risk of kidney stone formation.

12.Diabetes

Patients with diabetes mellitus type 1 are advised to increase the intake of high-fiber diets in order to lower glucose levels.

It is recommended that females should consume 21-25 g/day and males 30-38 g/day dietary fibers (The American Dietary Guidelines). One banana contains approximately 3 grams of dietary fibers.

13.Reduces Cholesterol Levels And Fight Obesity

It has been shown that bananas are effective in reducing the cholesterol levels due to high level of fibers.

14.Improve Vision

High intake of bananas has been linked with the lower incidence of macular degeneration.

15.Digestive System

Bananas are alternative treatment in individuals with diarrhea or sensitive gastrointestinal system. They are included in the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast).

The main mechanism is the supplementation of electrolytes, mostly potassium. (7)

16.Relieves The Ulcer Symptoms

Bananas are known to contain sitoindosides that act protectively in digestive tract and stimulate digestive enzymes to improve peristalsis. Sitoindosides form as well the mucosal protective layer.

17.Reduces Symptoms Of Diarrhea

Bananas are important source of nutrients in children with diarrhea as well as supplementation of the electrolytes lost.

18.Nutritional Support In Pregnancy

Bananas are of great nutritional value in pregnant women. They are rich in potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid. Consequently, they improve cardiovascular and nerual development of fetus. Due to high iron concentration, it is beneficial in case of any symptoms of anemia.

Nutritional Support In Pregnancy

19.Improves Vitamin A Deficiency

Bananas cultivated in Micronesia and Australia are rich in vitamin A and carotenoids, therefore a great food for vitamin A supplementation. (8)

20.Helps Against Anemia

Bananas are high in iron and are recommended in individuals suffering from anaemia.

 Anemia

21.Improves Memory And Regulate Mood

Tryptophan in bananas, an amino acid, is in charge of adequate regulation of memory capabilities and uplifting mood.

Side Effects And Precautions

  • In certain individuals, an allergy to bananas could be present.
  • High bananas consumption could increase the occurrence of migraines.
  • Individuals with sensitive digestive system, could be prone to bloating, gas accumulation or abdominal cramps.
  • Due to extremely high-levels of potassium in bananas, they are not recommended in patients on beta-blockers or certain diuretics (Labetalol, Lisinopril, Losartan, Spironolactone, Eplerenone).
  • In individuals with kidney diseases or potassium metabolism impairment, bananas should be avoided as well.

References

  1. N. W. Simmonds et al. The taxonomy and origins of the cultivated bananas. December 1955
  2. Mathew NS, Negi PS.Traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of wild banana (Musa acuminata Colla): A review.J Ethnopharmacol. 2017 Jan 20;196:124-140.
  3. D’Elia L1, Barba G, Cappuccio FP, Strazzullo P.Potassium intake, stroke, and cardiovascular disease a meta-analysis of prospective studies.J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011 Mar 8;57(10):1210-9.
  4. Lectin Structure. Annual review of Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure. Vol. 24:551-577 (1995).
  5. Singh SS, Devi SK, Ng TB.Banana lectin: a brief review.Molecules. 2014 Nov 17;19(11):18817-27.
  6. Nieman DC, Gillitt ND, Henson DA, Sha W, Shanely RA, Knab AM, Cialdella-Kam L, Jin F.Bananas as an energy source during exercise: a metabolomics approach.PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37479.
  7. Tovey FI.Role of dietary phospholipids and phytosterols in protection against peptic ulceration as shown by experiments on rats.World J Gastroenterol. 2015 Feb 7;21(5):1377-84.
  8. Englberger L, Darnton-Hill I, Coyne T, Fitzgerald MH, Marks GC.Carotenoid-rich bananas: a potential food source for alleviating vitamin A deficiency.Food Nutr Bull. 2003 Dec;24(4):303-18.
  9. Pérez LAB, Acevedo EA, Díaz PO, Cello RGU, Suárez FJG. Banana and mango flours. In: Preedy RV, Watson RR, Patel VB, editors. Flour and breads and their fortification in health and disease prevention. London: Elsevier; 2011. pp. 235–246.
  10. Singh B, Singh JP, Kaur A, Singh N.Bioactive compounds in banana and their associated health benefits – A review.Food Chem. 2016 Sep 1;206:1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.03.033. Epub 2016 Mar 11.
  11.  Arjun Seth et al .Potassium intake and risk of stroke in hypertensive and non-hypertensive women in the Women’s Health Initiative. Stroke. 2014 Oct; 45(10): 2874–2880.
  12. Oliveira L1, Freire CS, Silvestre AJ, Cordeiro N.Lipophilic extracts from banana fruit residues: a source of valuable phytosterols.J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Oct 22;56(20):9520-4.
  13. Miller KC.Plasma potassium concentration and content changes after banana ingestion in exercised men.J Athl Train. 2012 Nov-Dec;47(6):648-54