Bananas 101: Calories, 6 Health Benefits and their Nutritional Value

Overview

According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, bananas are Americas’ favorite flesh fruit and the most widely consumed fruits in the world. These curvy yellow flesh fruits pack loads of pectin and potassium. They are also a good option to source vitamin B6, vitamin C, and magnesium.

Bananas are rich in antioxidants that are vital in warding off free radicals which we come into contact with day-in-day-out from the lotions we apply on our skins or even from sunlight. Bananas avail an array of health benefits when one incorporates the fruit in their daily diet. They help reduce swelling, support weight loss, strengthen the nervous system, enhance the production of white blood cells, and reduce exposure to type-2 diabetes.

calories in banana

Calories & In-depth Nutritional Profile

For an in-depth analysis of the beets’ nutrients, consider the table below;

Amount:  100grams

Calories:    89

 % Daily Value *
Total Fat (0.3g)

Saturated fat (0g)

Polyunsaturated fat (0.1g)

Monounsaturated fat (0g)

0%

0%

Cholesterol (0mg)0%
Sodium (1mg)0%
Potassium (358mg)10%
Total Carbohydrate (23g)

           Dietary fiber (2.6g)

Sugar (12g)

7%

10%

 

Protein (1.1g)2%
Vitamin A1%
Vitamin C14%
Calcium0%
Iron1%
Vitamin D0%
Vitamin B-620%
Vitamin B-120%
Magnesium6%

Facts and Description of Bananas

  • To date, bananas are the world’s most cultivated fruit with the archaeologists dating the initial cultivation about 8000 B.C in New Guinea
  • Mainly, bananas are produced in the subtropical | tropical climate areas in Asia, Africa, America, Australia, and Canary Islands.
  • Surprisingly, bananas do not grow on trees – banana plants are classified as arborescent perennial herb with the bananas themselves classified as berries.
  • A bunch of bananas is referred to as a ‘hand’ and a single banana is referred to as a ‘finger’.
  • Almost all of the bananas at the local marts are cloned from just one variety (Cavendish banana plant) that originated from Southeast Asia.
  • The Cavendish banana plant varieties came about to replace the Gros Michel banana plant varieties that were eradicated by a fungi infestation. The Gros Michel varieties were reportedly bigger in size, sweeter in taste, and had prolonged shelf life as compared to the Cavendish varieties.
  • According to botanists, the Cavendish banana plant varieties may suffer a similar fate as that of the Gros Michel varieties in the next few decades.
  • Bananas are also referred to as ‘plantains’. Generally, the term ‘banana’ refers to the sweeter fruits – which are often eaten uncooked. On the other hand, the term ‘plantains’ refers to the starchier fruits, that are cooked before eating.
  • There are about 50 recognized banana species.
  • Wild bananas are more prevalent in Southeast Asia though most of them are inedible for humans – they stud hard seeds.
  • Today, most of the cultivated bananas serve consumption purposes for the farmers themselves as well as the local community. Only 15% of the world’s production of the fruits is grown for export purposes.
  • India is the leading producer of bananas in the world equating to about 23% of the entire banana production. Nonetheless, most of India’s plantains are cultivated for domestic purposes.

banana health benefits

Health Benefits

  • Prevention of cancer

Recent studies show that the moderate consumption of bananas has significant positive aspects in the prevention of kidney cancer. Back in 2005, a study carried out on Swedish women shows that women who had 75 servings of vegetables and fruits had their exposure to kidney cancer cut by over 40%.

Bananas showed pretty beneficial aspects with the women who ate 4-6 bananas a week had their exposure to kidney cancer cut by over 50%. Bananas are a rich source of antioxidant, phenolic, compounds which help ward off kidney cancer.

  • Improved sight

Carrots get to scoop all of the hail and glory for they help ward off any problems with one’s vision, but bananas have their equal share of the slice too. According to the National Institutes of Health, fruits contain a significant amount of vitamin A essential for upholding one’s vision, as well as boosting one’s vision at night.

Vitamin A is essential to the eyes because it contains compounds necessary for preserving the eye’s membranes and also has a protein element that avails light to the corneas. Just like other fruits, bananas are capable of warding off macular degeneration which is an incurable condition that can result in blurs in one’s central vision.

  • Weight loss and digestion aspects

Bananas pack a lot of fiber, vital for keeping you regular. A single banana can avail nearly 10% of the required daily intake of fiber. Vitamin B6 is vital in helping ward off type 2 Diabetes and also has significant aspects in weight loss management. Bananas have a tasty and filling appeal to them which is essential in curbing cravings. Also, bananas help sustain the blood sugar levels necessary during intense workout.

  • Improves bone health

Though bananas don’t pack overflowing calcium content, the little calcium they pack has significant aspects in the maintenance of bone health. In 2009, an article published in the Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry shows that bananas are a rich source of fructooligosaccharides; which are non-digestive carbohydrates that trigger the functions of digestive-friendly probiotics as well as boost the body’s ability to absorb calcium.

  • Help to overcome depression and elevate one’s mood

Bananas have high tryptophan levels which help to overcome depression that the body readily converts into serotonin which is a mood elevating neurotransmitter that resides in the brain. Also, bananas are rich in vitamin B6 which helps one sleep better, as well as magnesium that helps in muscle relaxation. .

  • Improves heart health

Bananas are a good option to uphold your heart health. They pack a rich supply of potassium—a vital mineral electrolyte that is responsible in ensuring that electricity flows throughout the body to ensure that a consistent heartbeat is upheld.

According to FDA, bananas constitute low sodium content and high potassium content to help guard your cardiovascular system against exposure to high blood pressure.

Nutritional Profile of Bananas

A medium-sized banana constitutes 105 calories most of which are derived from carbohydrates. Though bananas have high carbohydrate content, they have low fat and protein content.

Carbohydrates

Bananas constitute high carbohydrate levels sourced from the unripe banana’s starch as well as the sugars of the ripe bananas. Nonetheless, the bananas’ carbohydrate composition drastically changes as they ripen. On a dry weight basis, unripe bananas comprise 70 to 80% starch.

The most common sugars present in bananas include sucrose, glucose, and fructose. Ripe bananas can constitute a total sugar content of 16%. Additionally, depending on the ripeness of the bananas, they comprise a glycemic index of 42 to 58; this is a measure of how quick the carbohydrates get absorbed into the bloodstream.

Bananas have a low glycemic index because their high levels of fiber and starch that mitigate any rise in blood sugar levels after a meal.

Fiber

Unripe bananas constitute a high proportion of starch (resistant to digestion) that pass down to the large intestines to undergo fermentation. During the fermentation process, bacteria help to form butyrate (a fatty acid that seemingly has beneficial aspects on intestinal health).

Also, bananas are a good source of other types of fiber such as pectin. Some of the pectin in the bananas is water-soluble and as the bananas ripen, the proportion of the water-soluble pectin increases making the bananas softer. Starch and pectin help to keep the blood levels in check after a meal.

Vitamins and Minerals

Bananas pack loads of significant minerals such as;

  • Potassium

Diets rich in potassium help to lower blood pressure and have positive aspects on cardiovascular health.

  • Vitamin B6

Bananas are a good source of vitamin B6 with a medium-sized banana constituting packing over 33% of the required daily intake of vitamin B6.

  • Vitamin C

Like most fruits, bananas pack a lot of vitamin C.

Other Plant Compounds:

Most fruits and veggies constitute various types of bioactive plant compounds and bananas are no exceptions. These bioactive plant compounds present in bananas include:

  • Catechin

Bananas contain several antioxidant flavonoids most of which are catechins. Research conducted link catechins to several health aspects including the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • Dopamine

Even though dopamine is a vital neurotransmitter in the brain, the dopamine present in bananas does not seep past the blood-brain barrier and only gets to act as a potent antioxidant.

How to Select and Store Bananas

Bananas are pretty fragile once they ripen and it only takes them a short span of time to start decaying. In the US farm fields, bananas are harvested when they still are firm and green for easier handling and transportation. In order for the bananas to ripen, they are stored in close proximity to other ripe fruits or subjected to ethylene spray.

In the storage room, opt for the bananas that are ripe and leave out the greener ones because they can last for more days. Eat the yellow and brown-spotted bananas within a few days. Ready to eat bananas should be bright yellow and emanate a fruity-rich aroma. Ripe bananas should peel off easy, sweeter in taste as compared to the unripe mangoes are really nutritionally enriched.

Avoid the unappealing, mushy, or damaged bananas.

Quick Tips to Select Bananas

  • Opt for bananas that are firm and free of bruises
  • Ensure that the bananas tips and stems are instant
  • Typically, bananas move from one ripening stage to the next in a day—keep this in mind whilst making your selection at the grocery stores.
  • Like all grown fruits, bananas will vary in size. Opt for those that best suit your appetite and lifestyle.

Tips to Store Bananas

  • Store bananas at room temperature
  • Place the bananas in a brown bag with an avocado, apple, and a tomato so as to speed up the ripening process
  • To slow down the ripening process of bananas, place the bananas in a brown bag and store them at cool temperatures of about 50-67F
  • To freeze bananas, simply peel the bananas, seal them in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. In the case that you place unpeeled bananas in the brown bag before you have them placed in the refrigerator–the peels may discolor due to the low temperatures though the fruit will not be affected. For optimum results, make use of the frozen bananas within a 2-months period.

Tips Prepare and Serve Bananas

Bananas are guarded by a natural outer layer skin and are less likely to be exposed to be contamination by dust and germs.

  • Peel bananas to enjoy as they are
  • Add banana slices to fruit salads
  • Add bananas to fruit jams
  • Add mashed ripe bananas to casseroles, cakes, bread-pudding, and muffins.
  • Chop up raw unripe bananas to incorporate into veggie recipes
  • Banana chips are tasty snacks
  • Grill bananas to serve on cake or ice cream

Safety Profile on Bananas

  • Bananas may trigger Sleepiness and Headaches

When bananas are eaten in moderation, there are no significant side effects that shadow their consumption. However, when eaten in plenty, they may trigger headaches and sleepiness. The amino acids present in bananas dilate the blood vessels resulting in headaches. As compared to unripe bananas, ripe bananas pack a lot of these amino acids.

Bananas have high tryptophan content and these also contribute to the feel of sleepiness. Additionally, bananas are a rich source of magnesium which gets to relax the muscles; which can be beneficial at times and risky as well.

  • High Vitamin and Minerals concerns

Excessive consumption of bananas can be significantly risky. The United States Dietetic Association recommends that adults should indulge in a daily banana intake of 2 bananas a day. Consuming plenty of bananas in a day may lead to overly-elevated levels of minerals and vitamins.

A study conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center shows that the over-consumption of potassium can lead to hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia is characterized by muscle weakness, irregular heartbeats, and temporary paralysis. Though hyperkalemia can have drastic consequences, you would have to eat about 43 bananas in a short span of time for the hyperkalemia symptoms to surface.

According to a study conducted by the NIH, a daily consumption of 500mg of vitamin B6 can possibly lead to the health-deterioration of the nerves that reside in the arms and legs. Nonetheless, you’d have to eat thousands of bananas to hit the risky vitamin B6 levels.

  • Are Banana Peels Edible or Poisonous?

Surprisingly, turns out that the greatest risk that bananas’ peels can expose you to is slipping on them. The peels are not poisonous. In fact, they are edible and nutritious! The peels contain high vitamin B6 and B12 content, potassium, and magnesium too.

According to an article published in the journal of Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, banana peels are rich in bioactive compounds such as carotenoids and polyphenols. Ensure that you have the banana peels washed before eating them because of the pesticides sprayed in banana groves.

Banana peels may be served boiled, cooked, or fried to enjoy as they are, or to blend with other fruits. Though the peels aren’t as sweet as the banana’s flesh, the peels from ripe bananas are sweeter as compared to those from unripe ones.

  • Bananas on Diabetics

Over the years, mixed opinions brewed on whether bananas are a good option for diabetics or not. It is true that bananas are rich in sugar and starch content and thus the assumed rise in blood sugar levels. However, moderate consumption of bananas should not spark a spike in the blood sugar levels due to the bananas’ low glycemic index.

Nonetheless, diabetics should avoid overly-consuming the well-ripened bananas. Remember, diabetics should always keep their blood sugar levels carefully monitored after eating meals rich in carbohydrates and sugars.

  • Bananas and Dental Hygiene

Bananas are sugary fruits and thus proper dental hygiene should be upheld failure to which tooth decay may creep in. Also, bananas do not contain enough fats or proteins to be used as an effective snack after a workout because they don’t comprise a healthy meal.

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