7 Reasons why we should all eat more bananas
The humble banana. All too often overlooked in favour of more exotic fruits such as passion fruit or kumquat, or swapped for antioxidant-packed blueberries or pomegranates, here at Expertrain HQ, we love bananas, and we believe they should be a staple part of everyone's diet. Affordable, convenient and oh-so-portable, here are 7 reasons why we should all be eating more bananas - not to mention they're one of your five a day!
#1. Bananas aid digestion
You know bananas are healthy, but did you know that they're packed with pectin, which can help digestion and remove toxins from the body? Bananas are also an excellent choice for upset stomachs, as they soothe the digestive tract and can replace electrolytes lost by the body after a bout of diarrhoea. If you suffer from heartburn, acid reflux or GERD, add a sliced banana to your breakfast cereal - they're nature's antacid and can really help to relieve discomfort. In fact, did you know that bananas are the only fruit that can be consumed comfortably by those who have stomach ulcers? They help coat the stomach lining, preventing irritation from corrosive acids and helping ulcers to heal naturally, Phew! (1)
#2. Bananas can enhance performance
It's tempting to reach for a sports drink when you're working out or running a marathon, but stop! Research carried out at Appalachian University in 2012 looked at whether a sports drink or a banana provided athletes with the most benefits (2). Subjects enjoyed half a banana or a cup of sports drink per 15 minutes of a simulated 75km cycling race. The results showed that both groups performed similarly. The potassium in bananas acts as an electrolyte to maintain your body's fluid levels and prevent muscle cramps. As an added bonus, bananas are also packed with antioxidants, fibre and other nutrients - win! Next time you're going for a run, pack a banana alongside your water bottle and your body will thank you for it!
#3. Bananas can reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack
The FDA officially recognises bananas as having the ability to lower blood pressure. High in potassium, which can help boost heart health and low in salt, bananas are hands down one of the best foods to reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack. One banana contains around 422mg of potassium, which can help your body excrete sodium (salt) reducing your blood pressure and the risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack. In fact, a study published by 'Stroke' journal showed that post-menopausal women cut their risk of stroke by up to 12% by consuming at least 4,700mg of potassium daily (3) - that's another excuse to make that banana smoothie.
#4. Bananas help keep you calm
What's that - bananas can help you to feel less stressed? It's true - bananas cause a temporary blood sugar spike but then reduce your blood sugar, which can help to keep anxiety levels in check, if eaten before an exam or that important presentation. Bananas are also helpful for reducing painful PMS symptoms such as bloating, whilst helping you to relax and boosting your mood (4).
#5. Bananas fight depression
Before you start picturing a banana physically attacking depression - we're trying to be serious here! Depression is a serious problem, with more people in the UK suffering than ever before. At this time of year, many people suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD), but even if you regularly suffer from depression or anxiety, eating bananas can really help. That's because bananas are an excellent source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid which the body converts into seratonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for creating happy moods. So chowing down on a banana could really boost your mood! Bananas are also rich in melatonin, which regulates your body clock, and the combination of melatonin and tryptophan can help you to get a restful night's sleep. Experts recommend eating a banana about an hour before bed for the best results (5).
#6. Bananas can help prevent kidney problems
Eating foods low in calcium yet rich in magnesium, such as bananas, can help to prevent kidney stones (6), whilst eating bananas regularly can also help to protect against kidney cancer. Try adding a sliced banana to your porridge or cereal, making a banana protein shake, pancakes or even a banana split, if you're craving something sweet.
#7. Bananas can help you quit smoking
We didn't believe this at first either, but a healthy diet which includes bananas can go a long way to relieve the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking. If you're going cold-turkey from nicotine this festive season, your body will be feeling the (unpleasant) effects and it can be hard to manage, particularly if you're a heavy smoker. Eating bananas, packed with magnesium, potassium and B-vitamins, can help your body to recover from withdrawal symptoms, so you're less likely to give into cravings and more likely to kick the habit for good!
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