Banana: Benefits, Side Effects and Properties
India is the major producer of bananas in the world but its people consume all the produced quantity. It’s normal for such a delicious and tasty fruit full of benefits like bananas. They are among the most popular, wanted and desired fruits in the world.
They are originally from Southeast Asia. However, now they are produced almost everywhere in the rest of the world. They have various colors, sizes and shapes. The most common type is Cavendish which is a dessert type of bananas. Its full maturity is distinguished by the yellow color and it’s green before that.
There are two types of bananas; sweet bananas eaten as a dessert and plaintains which are the kind of bananas that should be cooked before being eaten. Those fruits are simultaneously very delicious and healthy whether they are fresh or cooked or in any other status.
Benefits of bananas
Some scientific studies on bananas demonstrated the following benefits:
Providing necessary energy for athletes
A medium banana contains about 105 calories while a potato provides about 144 calories. That’s why this fruit represent a profitable source of energy. It’s used as a fast, nutrient-rich source of energy during training and sport which allows people to avoid muscle cramps especially by eating a healthy diet. This fruit can also prevent calcium loss and strengthens the bones too.
The bioactive substances found in bananas include several powerful antioxidants (banana contains more than 1000 mmol of TE in ORAC units, it’s comparable to kiwifruit) which are useful to protect the body against inflammatory and oxidative stress. They can also fight chronic or age-related degenerative diseases.
Lowering blood pressure (HTA) and cardio-protective effect
The high potassium and the low sodium levels can reduce blood pressure. Scientists believe that potassium deficiency is the responsible factor of hypertension because it lowers blood sodium levels. Some studies have shown that consuming some bananas daily helps to drop blood pressure about 10% in one week. So, they are officially recognized by the FDA as a protector against heart attacks and strokes.
Controlling glycemia and metabolic syndrome
Diabetics would benefit from eating ripe and overripe bananas, which have a glycemic index of 43 and 74 respectively, and raise blood glucose to an average of 62 and 106 respectively. This is due to the increased starch content relative to the sugar content of the sub-ripe bananas. In fact, eating a banana between meals helps to stabilize blood sugar and reduce morning sickness.
Controlling body weight
The high fiber content, nutrients and low calories in a banana make it an ideal food for overweight people. The resistant starch contained in bananas and sub-ripe plantains can replace many starchy foods rich in calories. Other than controlling diabetes, bananas can correct dyslipidemia and control weight. They reduce swelling, protect against type II diabetes, help with weight loss, strengthen the nervous system and help produce white blood cells. These are realized due to the high levels of vitamin B-6 in bananas which also promote satiety and reduce total energy intake.
Preventing of kidney tumors
Some studies have shown that consuming at least 75 servings of fruits or vegetables a month prevents having a kidney cancer by about 40%. This benefit has been most noticeable while consuming a good amount of bananas monthly.
Protecting against colon cancer
Resistant starch helps to reduce or dilute the concentrations of toxic substances such as ammonia and Nitroso compounds. Studies have shown that bananas help prevent colon cancer through the slow content of carbohydrates (slowly digested carbohydrates) but this is not yet fully confirmed.
Bananas help overcome depression with high levels of tryptophan converted to serotonin; the brain neurotransmitter in a good mood. Eating a banana improves mood, reduces PMS symptoms, regulates blood sugar, and provides relaxation by relieving stress.
Participation in digestion
Rich in pectin, this fruit facilitates digestion and eliminates little by little the toxins and the heavy metals present in the body. It acts as a prebiotic stimulating the growth of good bacteria in the gut and also produces digestive enzymes to help absorb nutrients.
The high fiber content in this fruit can help normalize intestinal motility. Bananas soothe the digestive tract and help restore lost electrolytes after diarrhea. They also have a natural antacid that relieves acid reflux, heartburn and GERD. In fact, they are the only raw fruits that can be consumed without distress to relieve stomach ulcers by covering the lining of the stomach against corrosive acids.
Maintenance of the beauty of the skin against insect bites and body temperature
Rub an insect bite or hives inside the banana peel to relieve itching and irritation. In addition, eating a banana can lower body temperature and cool you down during a fever or a hot day.
Benefits of bananas for pregnant women and babies (red or yellow banana)
- During pregnancy, this fruit can:
- Avoid congenital disabilities and premature deliveries.
- Provide the amount of iron needed by the woman to prevent anemia related to the high blood level necessary for the development of the fetus.
- Reduce symptoms related to nausea especially during the first three months of pregnancy.
- Promote digestion and eliminate toxins from the body (fighting constipation).
- Strengthen the immune system and prevent bodily infections.
- Instantly stimulate energy.
- Reduce the feeling of hunger through carbohydrates (a banana can be a good meal).
- Maintain the level of blood pressure through potassium provides.
- Reduce feelings of tension, apprehension, stress and anxiety.
- Check edema. reduce swelling and water retention.
- Help the development of the baby's nervous system.
- Maintain the bone development of the mother and baby and help prevent acidity and heartburn.
- Help treat diarrhea.
- Stimulate the appetite.
- For babies, bananas can:
- Heal urinary tract infections.
- Provide a good amount of fiber to the baby, which keeps the body full and helps cleanse the bowel.
- Give babies good amounts of vitamins, potassium, calcium and fiber to help them gain weight.
- Contribute to promote the bone growth of babies.
- Avoid diseases and brain damage as well as improve memory.
- Protect the cornea and strengthen the vision.
- Cure constipation in babies.
- The harms and side effects of bananas
- Generate weight gain through high calorie levels (average banana provides 105 calories).
- Stimulate migraine since banana includes tyramine which has a trigger for these ailments.
- Provide a potassium level that can in case of excess cause hyperkalemia that can cause heart attacks for adults.
- Being harmful to oral health through causing serious cavities.
- Reduce mental performance and drowsiness.
- Cause nerve damage in case of overconsumption (related to high vitamin B6 levels).
- Create an allergy to ragweed or stimulate it in people who already suffer from it.
- Hypersensitivity in people with latex allergy.
- Tighten the airways which may cause difficulty breathing or swallowing.
- Induce immediate vomiting or diarrhea if you consume immature bananas full of starch.
Properties of bananas
Bananas contain several bioactive compounds, including:
- Phenolic compounds
- Biogenic amines
1 medium banana (about 160 g)
Monounsaturated fatty acids
Folic acid (B9)
- Sarah E Santiago et al.; Consumption habits of pregnant women and implications for developmental biology: a survey of predominantly Hispanic women in California
- Bananas need no hype to be considered good; NutritionATC University of Hawaii; 2010
- www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/: Bananas as an Energy Source during Exercise: A Metabolomics Approach