Lets face it, everyone loves a banana. Before I go further, I would like to point out that even though this is a juicing site, bananas are not really a juicing friendly fruit. They clog up your juicer and produce very little liquid. They can, however, be blended into a variety of delicious smoothie recipes.
Bananas are one of the most ubiquitous of fruits and just like apples and oranges, are found in the stores all year round. Bananas originate from Southeast Asia and may have been cultivated in the area of Papua New Guinea as far back as 8000 BCE! From Southeast Asia, the banana has spread far and wide and is now grown in practically every tropical/sub tropical country.
Heart Health Benefits of Bananas
Bananas are a good source of heart healthy potassium and fiber. Potassium is an electrolyte, meaning it has an electric charge. Muscles and the nervous system require the electrical nature of electrolytes to function properly. In particular, potassium is needed by the muscle to perform contracting movements. Insufficient potassium intake can result in muscle weakness and painful muscle spasms. Therefore, the heart being a muscle is totally dependent on sufficient potassium levels to beat properly. Without enough potassium, the heart beat can weaken, become irregular or even stop.
Studies also show that high potassium intake can lower blood pressure, and therefore the risk of developing heart disease. In one study, people who took potassium supplements reduced their systolic blood pressure by around 8 points. Eating a diet containing potassium rich fruits and vegetables is shown to be more beneficial than just taking potassium supplements; this kind of diet can lower systolic blood pressure by 10 points.
In another study, an inversely strong link was highlighted between a high dietary intake of potassium and stroke. The diet of 40,000 male health professionals was closely followed for a period of 4 years. Those whose diets contained the highest amounts of potassium were considerably less likely to suffer a stroke.
Bananas are also a good source of 2 kinds of fiber – cellulose (insoluble) and pectin (soluble). One average sized banana will provide you with about 15% of the recommended daily allowance for fiber. When you eat foods containing cholesterol, not all of it is absorbed into the blood stream via the small intestine. Some of it makes it through the digestion into the bowels to be eliminated. However, if we don’t have enough fiber in the diet to move the feces quickly, we are at risk of absorbing this cholesterol into the blood stream – increasing our cholesterol levels. So it is good to know that cellulose and pectin are two types of fiber that have been specifically shown to help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol levels.
Anti-Cancer Health Benefits of Bananas
The heath benefits of bananas fiber profile is not limited to lowering cholesterol levels. High fiber intake is a proven factor in reducing the likelihood of developing colon cancer. Fiber helps to bulk up the feces and absorb toxins that might otherwise be exposed to the colon wall and cause inflammation leading to cancer. Fiber also helps move toxins more quickly through the colon, decreasing their chances of being reabsorbed into the blood stream causing further toxicity.
Banana health benefits the kidneys too! In a prospective study of 61,000 women, those who ate four to six bananas per week were half as likely to develop kidney cancer than those who ate no bananas. Although not yet conclusive why bananas have this effect, some researchers think that the antioxidant power of phenolic compounds in bananas may help fight off carcinogens that might otherwise affect the kidneys.
To read about a real life case of kidney cancer visit Kidney Cancer Blog
Bananas Health Nutritional Profile
Although not exceptionally high in vitamins, bananas are a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of vitamin C, B1, B2 and B3.
However the mineral content of bananas is an impressive one. It is a great source of potassium and a good source of other important minerals such as phosphorous, magnesium, manganese and selenium.
Darren and Veronica Haynes