Grown in many parts of the world (Bangladesh, Australia, West, and Central Africa, Asian countries, Mexico, and Colombia…), bananas are the most consumed tropical fruit. Energetic and very nutritious, it is the favorite fruit of all athletes. But do you really know all its benefits?
Bananas to stimulate intestinal transit
Banana is a good source of dietary fiber, a 100 g serving contains almost 2.6 g of fiber, a little more than the apple (2.4 g). Its good fiber content makes it an ally of choice to improve intestinal transit.
Dietary fiber, non-starchy polysaccharides that can resist digestion in the small intestine, comes mainly from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Their primary role is to increase the volume of the stool and modify its consistency, that is to say, to soften it, in order to promote its path in the colon.
Fiber is essential for the proper functioning of intestinal transit and a deficiency can quickly lead to digestive disorders such as constipation or diarrhea. Another advantage, the natural antacid effect of bananas would help relieve heartburn.
Several studies conducted in Bangladesh have found that eating bananas help combat the symptoms of acute and chronic diarrhea. In infants, eating cooked plantains combined with a little rice helps cure diarrhea. Older children with acute or chronic diarrhea should eat fresh, unripe bananas instead.
Another study on rats showed that certain varieties of bananas, especially those grown in Thailand, would protect against stomach ulcers. By stimulating the production of mucus, a layer that protects the lining of the stomach from the aggressiveness of digestive juices, bananas would play a role in the prevention and treatment of ulcers.
Banana to stay in shape
Rich in vitamin C, regular consumption of bananas would help strengthen the immune system and help fight infections.
An average 150 g banana contains about 13.2 mg of vitamin C or about 15% of the recommended daily allowance (75 mg for women and 90 mg for men per day2).
Vitamin C is essential for the proper functioning of the body: in addition to having antioxidant properties, it promotes the good health of the skin, bones, gums, and teeth, accelerates the healing process of wounds, and increases the absorption of iron from plants.
This tropical fruit is also a good source of iron (0.39 mg per 150 g). It helps fight iron deficiency anemia by stimulating the production of hemoglobin in the blood (= pigment present in red blood cells that allows transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide). Thanks to their good content of vitamin C and iron, bananas would contribute to good general health and would keep fit with regular consumption and as part of a balanced diet.
Bananas in the prevention of certain cancers
All fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants (the main ones being flavonoids, carotenoids, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin E), molecules that protect the body’s cells from the action of free radicals.
Banana is no exception to the rule, it has a strong antioxidant power. The overall antioxidant capacity of a food is measured with the TAC index expressed in micromoles (μmol).
The higher the TAC index, the greater the antioxidant power: for example, a food with a TAC index of 500 to 999 μmol is moderately antioxidant, 1,000 to 1,999 μmol is strongly antioxidant and 2,000 to 14,000 is a very strong antioxidant. A banana weighing about 120 g has a TAC of 1,037 μmol1, which places it among the highest antioxidant foods.
Regular consumption of bananas makes it possible to fight durably against free radicals, and unstable chemical molecules at the origin of many pathologies, including cancers.
For example, according to a prospective study conducted in Switzerland for more than 13 years among 61,000 women aged 40 to 76, regular consumption of fruit would greatly reduce the risk of developing kidney cancer.
And among the many fruits studied, bananas were found to be particularly effective in preventing this type of cancer: all women who regularly consumed bananas, and in large quantities, had a lower risk of kidney cancer than others. In another controlled study conducted in Uruguay and published in 1996, the strongest relationship between high consumption and decreased risk of colorectal cancer was observed in bananas.
Banana against high blood pressure
Banana is one of the richest fruits in potassium, a mineral essential for the functioning of the body.
It contains nearly 411 mg per 100g, which makes it an excellent ally to prevent and treat high blood pressure. Many epidemiological studies have clearly established a link between inadequate potassium intake and increased blood pressure.
Conversely, a diet that meets the recommended daily intake of potassium (between 4 and 5 g / day) helps prevent and fight against high blood pressure, a hyper pressure of the blood exerted against the wall of the arteries.
In the long term, high blood pressure significantly increases the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke, it is also the 1st cause of cardiovascular disease in the world (51% of deaths due to stroke and 45% of those caused by coronary heart disease are attributable to hypertension).
A recent meta-analysis conducted by WHO researchers confirm the results of previous studies: an increase in potassium intake decreases blood pressure by 3.49 mmHg for systolic pressure and 1.96 mmHg for diastolic pressure in people with hypertension.
By acting on high blood pressure, a higher intake of potassium decreases the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke. High consumption of bananas, combined with a diet low in salt and saturated fats, would reduce the risk of stroke by 24%.
Good to know: Potassium plays a major role in muscle contraction, which means that it participates in the regulation of the heartbeat. Thus, a high consumption of bananas, rich in potassium, would improve cardiovascular function and protect the heart.
Bananas to improve mood
Thanks to their good content of vitamin B6 (0.4 mg per 100g) and magnesium (33 mg per 100g), bananas improve mood and overall well-being.
Magnesium provides energy to the body and promotes the transmission of nerve impulses. This mineral also plays an essential role in psychic and emotional balance, the recommended daily intake is 400 to 500 mg per day.
For its part, vitamin B6, also known as “pyridoxine”, stimulates the production of certain neurotransmitters of the central nervous system, hormones involved in mood regulation, such as dopamine and serotonin. Considered the “pleasure hormone” or the “happiness neurotransmitter”, dopamine is linked to the reward circuit while serotonin has the property of acting as an antidepressant.
It is also known to be a very good natural relaxant. The soothing effects of bananas are also explained by the presence of tryptophan in the fruit, an amino acid essential for the production of serotonin. A recent study showed that a diet rich in tryptophan, combined with adequate intake of vitamin B6, promoted the production of serotonin and decreased symptoms of depression.
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