Readily available, portable, and bursting with fast-digesting energy, bananas are a fruit bowl staple across the globe. While they’re best known for having a high potassium content – one of the key minerals behind various banana benefits – this sweet tropical fruit contains a whole host of healthful nutrients, all wrapped up in gut-healthy fibre.
The humble banana is often overlooked in favour of more exotic (and expensive) fruit, despite being a bona-fide nutrient powerhouse.
To redress the balance and give the banana its moment in the spotlight, we asked nutritionist Rob Hobson, head of nutrition at Healthspan, to talk us through the many benefits of this bright yellow fruit:
12 science backed banana benefits
From supporting your heart health to fuelling your workouts, we’ve picked out 12 proven banana benefits.
1. Bananas are highly nutritious
Bananas are mostly carbohydrates and water. The carbs in green, unripe bananas are mostly starch and resistant starch. As the banana ripens, the starch turns into glucose, fructose and sucrose. Bananas contain very little protein and fat.
The average (120 gram) banana contains 103 calories, 0.1g fat, 23.2g carbs, 20.7g total sugars, 1.7g fibre, and 1.4g protein. It also contains significant levels of micronutrients:
- Potassium: 396mg – 20 per cent of your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). ‘This mineral is required for proper muscle and nerve function as well as helping to lower blood pressure and easing fatigue,’ says Hobson.
- Magnesium: 32mg – 9 per cent of your RDA. ‘Required to build healthy bones and help the body to deal with stress,’ says Hobson. ‘Magnesium is also associated with healthy muscle and nerve function as well as helping the body to convert food into energy.’
- Thiamine (B1): 0.18mg – 16 per cent of your RDA. ‘This vitamin is required for energy production in the body, digestion of carbohydrates and heart function,’ says Hobson.
- Vitamin B6: 0.37mg – 27 per cent of your RDA. ‘Required for energy production in the body and as well as maintaining a healthy immune and nervous system,’ says Hobson.
- Folate (B9): 17 mcg – 8 per cent of your RDA. ‘Prevents neural tube defects in unborn babies and is essential for a healthy immune system and preventing anaemia,’ says Hobson.
- Vitamin C: 11mg – 14 per cent of your RDA. ‘An antioxidant that helps to reduce the damage caused by excess free radicals in the body,’ says Hobson. ‘Vitamin C is also essential for healthy skin, wound healing and immunity.’
2. Bananas improve digestive health
Bananas are high in fibre, which is essential for a healthy digestive system. The two main types of fibre found in bananas – pectin and resistant starch – are what’s known as soluble fibre, which acts as a prebiotic in the body. Unable to be digested, soluble fibre passes through the gut ‘where it’s fermented by bacteria,’ says Hobson. ‘It forms a short chain fatty acid called butyrate, which acts as an energy…
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