10 Health Benefits of Bananas + 4 Tips and Recipes
Bananas are one of the most popular and widely consumed fruits around the world. In this article, you will find out some lesser-known facts about a world-famous fruit as well as health benefits of bananas and tasty tips and recipes.
Bananas are not only delicious but they are also packed with essential nutrients, offering a range of health benefits. In this comprehensive guide to the fascinating world of bananas, you will learn about their nutritional facts and calories.
Alongside this, you will also discover some delicious recipes and tips to help you make the most of this versatile fruit.
Interesting Facts About Bananas
Bananas are undoubtedly one of the world’s most popular fruits and are widely loved for their sweet taste, portability, and versatility.
Besides their delicious taste, bananas also have a rich history and numerous intriguing things any culinary enthusiast will love to know about.
Origin of Bananas
Bananas are believed to have originated in Southeast Asia. In particular, they came from a region encompassing modern-day Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Not to mention, archeological data shows that the cultivation of bananas in this region dates back to 5.000 BCE.
Eventually, bananas spread to India, Africa, and the Middle East through trade. Later, European explorers encountered the fruit in Africa and the Caribbean in the 15th century, leading to its popularity in Europe in the 19th century.
Can You Eat Banana Peels?
Unlike what most people think, banana peels are edible. While the majority of people discard its peels and enjoy the soft, creamy fruit inside, the peels offer a range of health benefits and are safe for consumption.
Banana peels are a rich source of dietary fiber, vitamins B6 and B12, potassium, and magnesium. If you want to eat the peel, choose a ripe, yellow banana with the fewest blemishes. Also, thoroughly wash it to remove dirt and pesticides.
Different Types of Bananas
While yellow Cavendish bananas are the most popular, there is a wide variety of the fruit. Some of them are as follows:
- Cavendish Bananas: This is the most common variety. It is known for its sweet and creamy texture. You can easily find these in supermarkets.
- Plantains: This variety is larger and starchier than Cavendish bananas. Usually, people cook them before eating. Not to mention, they are a staple food in tropical regions, where people use them in savory dishes like plantain chips and tostones.
- Red Bananas: These bananas have reddish-purple skins. Their flavor is unique, as they taste sweet and slightly vanilla-like. This variety is rich in nutrients like vitamin C and beta-carotene.
- Blue Java Bananas: These are also known as “ice cream bananas” because of their creamy texture and subtle vanilla flavor. Ripe Blue Java bananas have a blue-colored skin.
- Lady Finger Bananas: They are also called baby bananas, as they are smaller and sweeter than the traditional Cavendish bananas.
- Burro Bananas: This variety consists of short, chubby bananas with thick, bright yellow skin. Additionally, they have a tangy flavor and are great for cooking.
- Manzano Bananas: Usually referred to as “apple banana,” the Manzano variety has a hint of apple-like flavor. Furthermore, they have a firm texture; people usually use them in desserts.
- Goldfinger Bananas: This hybrid variety is resistant to diseases and has a sweet taste.
Nutritional Facts and Calories of Bananas
Bananas are not just a tasty treat; they are also nutritional powerhouses. Hence, they are a healthy snack choice. Let us discuss some of the nutritional facts about bananas.
A 7- to 8-inch-long, medium-sized banana typically contains 105 calories. However, the calorie content is variable and depends on the size of the fruit.
Bananas are an excellent source of carbohydrates, particularly in the form of natural sugars, giving them their characteristic sweetness. Also, they are rich in dietary fiber, aiding in gut health and digestion. There are 3 grams of dietary fiber in a medium-sized banana.
Furthermore, bananas are rich in essential vitamins and minerals. For instance, they have a high content of vitamin B6, providing 20 percent of their recommended daily intake. Bananas also contain vitamin C.
Another vital mineral found abundantly in bananas is potassium. A medium-sized banana can contribute up to 9 percent of the daily recommended potassium. Essentially, bananas are nutrient-dense fruits that have a moderate calorie count.
Health Benefits of Bananas
Here are ten excellent health benefits of adding bananas to your daily diet: bananas are not only rich in essential nutrients, they also support your heart health.
Read on for more information about the health benefits of bananas – for example about the essential nutrients you will find in the tasty fruit or the heart health benefits.
Rich in Essential Nutrients
Bananas are packed with essential nutrients that are crucial to maintaining good health. While a medium-sized banana has a moderate calorie count, it can give your body essential nutrients like carbohydrates, dietary fibers, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.
Vitamin C helps protect the body from oxidative stress as it is a powerful antioxidant and boosts the body’s immune system. Meanwhile, vitamin B6 is necessary for the normal development and functioning of the brain.
Supports Heart Health
The high potassium and low sodium levels make bananas heart-friendly fruits. Potassium is one of the critical nutrients for the regulation of blood pressure. Not to mention, adequate consumption of this mineral may decrease the chances of heart disease and stroke.
Not to mention, the fiber in bananas aids in lowering the cholesterol level, further promoting heart health. Antioxidants like dopamine and catechins are also present in bananas and help the cardiovascular system by preventing oxidative stress and inflammation.
Provides Instant Energy
Bananas are an excellent source of natural energy, making them a favorite among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. There is a mix of complex carbohydrates and simple sugars, along with dietary fibers, which provide a quick and sustained energy boost to the consumer.
You can eat a banana before or after a workout, as this particular combination of foods is great fuel and aids in muscle recovery. Not to mention, the easily digestible carbohydrates also make bananas a good snack when you need a quick energy boost during the day.
Aids in Digestive Health
The dietary fibers in bananas not only promote digestive health, but they are also beneficial for alleviating gastrointestinal issues.
Soluble fiber is present in abundance in bananas, and it absorbs water to form a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that softens stools, making them easier to pass. Hence, bananas are helpful in preventing or relieving constipation.
Not to mention, there are natural compounds in bananas called fructooligosaccharides that act as prebiotics, supporting the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
Mood and Brain Health
There are various compounds in bananas that can positively impact mood and brain health. Among them is tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts to serotonin, a neurotransmitter known for its mood-regulating properties.
Adequate levels of serotonin promote feelings of well-being and happiness.
In addition, vitamin B6 is also an essential nutrient for synthesizing neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, both of which play a key role in mood regulation and cognitive functions.
Therefore, including bananas in your daily diet can promote a more positive outlook on life and lead to improved mental clarity.
Promotes Weight Management
If you are looking for ways to manage your weight, bananas are a great snack option. This fruit offers various benefits for weight management. Although bananas have sugar, they also have dietary fibers that help you feel full and satisfied.
In addition, fiber slows the rate of digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, which prevents rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. As a result, it can reduce hunger pangs and cravings, making it easier to control overall calorie intake.
Bananas are a healthier alternative to processed snacks that usually contain high levels of unhealthy fats and added sugars.
Enhances Exercise Performance
The rich nutrient content of bananas makes them favorites among athletes and individuals who regularly engage in physical activity. The natural sugars like glucose and fructose in bananas provide a quick energy source during exercise, allowing them to sustain energy levels and improve performance.
Furthermore, the high potassium content aids in the maintenance of proper muscle function. Therefore, eating bananas can reduce the risk of muscle cramps and spasms during strenuous activities.
Moreover, the natural packaging of the fruit makes it portable and a convenient, mess-free snack for on-the-go individuals.
Supports Vision Health
Bananas are also a good source of vitamin A, a vital nutrient for maintaining healthy vision. This vitamin is crucial in maintaining the eye’s surface (the cornea) and supporting good vision in low-light conditions.
Additionally, it contributes to the production of rhodopsin, a pigment in the retina that helps detect light.
Aids in Anemia Prevention
A deficiency of red blood cells, or hemoglobin characterizes anemia. It can lead to fatigue, weakness, and a reduced capacity to carry oxygen throughout the body.
Bananas can be beneficial for individuals who are at risk of anemia due to their low iron content. Although the iron content in bananas is lower than in some other fruits, it still provides a small but significant amount of iron that can help prevent iron-deficiency anemia.
Supports Skin Health
Your skin can also benefit from the nutrients in bananas, leading to healthy, glowing skin. Vitamin C, present in bananas, is an antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals that can damage skin cells and lead to premature aging.
Vitamin C is also crucial in collagen synthesis, which supports the skin’s elasticity and reduces the appearance of wrinkles. Vitamin B6 also helps manage certain skin conditions like acne as it regulates hormonal activity.
Bananas also provide hydration, which, combined with vitamin A, helps keep skin moisturized and supple.
Benefits of Eating Green Bananas
Unlike ripe bananas, green bananas are not as sweet. However, they offer a range of health benefits. The resistant starch in green bananas helps in maintaining gut health, managing weight, and improving insulin sensitivity.
Bananas in Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a crucial time in which nutrition plays a key role. Correspondingly, bananas in pregnancy are a healthy choice as they are rich in essential nutrients and minerals like potassium, vitamin B6, and fiber.
These nutrients help relieve pregnancy-related constipation, regulate blood pressure, and aid in fetal development. However, it is important to be mindful that you consume it in moderation, as excessive consumption can lead to an excessive intake of natural sugars.
Can Dogs Have Bananas?
Wondering if it’s safe to share your favorite fruit with your furry friends? Yes, you can.
Bananas are a safe and healthy treat for dogs when given in moderation because of their vitamins, minerals, and sugar content.
Nevertheless, you should give your dog bananas in small quantities. Excessive consumption can lead to digestive issues because of fruit’s sugar content.
Tips and Recipes on How to Eat Bananas
While bananas are very nutritious fruits, they are also a very versatile ingredient that you can enjoy in various ways, ranging from delicious smoothies to mouthwatering desserts.
Here is a delightful banana recipe and some tips on how to ripen, store, and freeze bananas.
A banana-berry smoothie is the perfect post-workout treat and a refreshing way to start your day. To make this smoothie, you will need the following ingredients:
- 2 ripe bananas
- 1 cup mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt (plain or flavored)
- ½ cup milk (dairy or plant-based)
- 1 tbsp. honey (optional)
- Ice cubes (optional)
- Dark chocolate (optional)
After gathering these ingredients, peel ripe bananas and add them to your blender. Then, add the mixed berries, Greek yogurt, and milk to the blender. Also, you can drizzle some honey on top for added sweetness.
Blend these ingredients until they reach a smooth, creamy consistency. If you prefer colder and thicker smoothies, you can add ice cubes. Then, pour the banana-berry smoothie into glasses and enjoy.
How to Ripen Bananas
Ripe bananas are sweeter, softer, and easier to digest. Therefore, they are more enjoyable to eat. If you have underripe bananas that you can’t wait to ripen, here are some tips to help you speed up the ripening process.
Brown Paper Bag Method
The easiest trick is to place the under-ripe banana in a brown paper bag with an apple or ripe banana.
The ripe fruit releases ethylene gas, accelerating the ripening of the underripe bananas in the bag.
Close the bag and leave it at room temperature for a day or two. However, keep an eye on bananas until they reach the desired ripeness.
Preheat your oven to 250 °F (120°C). Then, lay unpeeled, under-ripe bananas on a baking sheet and bake them for 15 to 20 minutes, or until their skin turns black. Then, let them cool down, remove their peel, and enjoy their soft, sweet flesh.
You can also place an unpeeled banana in a microwave and heat it at medium power for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Check their ripeness and repeat if needed. However, be careful not to overheat them; it may cause the skin to explode.
How to Keep Bananas Fresh
You need to properly store bananas to keep them fresh and prevent them from overripening too quickly. Here are some tips that can help you prolong their freshness:
The best way to keep bananas fresh is to hang them. When you purchase a bunch of bananas, you should separate each of them from the bunch and hang them on a banana hook. This will help prevent them from getting squished and maintain good air circulation, slowing the ripening process.
Wrap the Stems
If you have a bunch of bananas but only want to eat one or two at a time, you can prolong their freshness by wrapping plastic wrap around their stems. As a result, plastic wrap creates a barrier that helps extend the shelf life of the bananas by slowing down the release of ethylene gas.
Another quick and easy method to keep bananas from ripening too quickly is to place them in the refrigerator.
While the skin may turn brown, the fruit inside remains fresh for a longer period of time.
Not to mention, refrigerated bananas are excellent for making frozen treats like banana ice cream.
How to Freeze Bananas
One of the best ways to preserve bananas is to freeze them. You can use frozen bananas to make smoothies, bake, and make ice cream. Here is how you can freeze bananas for future use:
Firstly, peel ripe bananas and cut them into slices. Preferably, the size should be around ½-inch thick, but you can adjust according to your preference.
Then, pre-freeze the bananas by laying the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone. This step prevents the frozen slices from sticking together.
Place the baking sheet with banana slices in the freezer and let them sit for 1-2 hours until they are firm. Then, you can transfer banana slices into an airtight container or resealable freezer bag.