Banana Benefits – calories & protein in banana

Packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, the humble yet mighty banana offers an array of health perks. This versatile tropical fruit can boost heart health, aid digestion, enhance athletic performance, and more. Read on to learn all about the incredible banana benefits.

Nutrient Profile

Bananas provide an impressive list of essential vitamins and minerals. One medium-sized (7-8 inches long) banana contains:

  • 110 calories
  • 1.3 grams protein
  • 0.4 gram fat
  • 26.9 grams carbs
  • 3 grams fiber
  • 12 grams sugar
  • 8-10% of the RDI for vitamin B6
  • 12% for vitamin C
  • 11% for magnesium
  • 8% for potassium
  • small amounts of other B vitamins, manganese, and copper

So in just one fruit, you obtain nearly a dozen key nutrients necessary for good health. The banana ranks high on the nutrition scale.

BananasCaloriesProtein (grams)
1 medium banana1051.3
2 medium bananas2102.6

Now, here is a closer look at some of the top health reasons you should make this fruit a regular part of your healthy diet.

Impressive Source of Antioxidants

Bananas act as an antioxidant powerhouse in the body. Antioxidants help prevent and repair cell damage from free radicals. This protects against chronic disease and inflammation.

Research shows bananas have potent antioxidant capacity, largely due to phenolic compounds like dopamine and catechin. The level of antioxidants also remains high even as bananas ripen.

Ideal Snack for Athletes

With their combination of carbs, key electrolytes, and vitamins, bananas serve as a perfect pre- or post-workout fuel source.

Bananas provide a healthy boost of carbohydrates, which serve as the primary fuel your muscles use during exercise. They also deliver enough natural sugars for an immediate energy kick.

Additionally, bananas contain potassium, magnesium, and calcium needed to prevent muscle cramps and replenish electrolytes lost through sweat. The fruit also has an easily digested blend of vitamins B6, B12, and C to keep energy production high.

In multiple studies, athletes reported optimal workouts after eating bananas before exercise and improved performance overall when adding bananas to their daily diet.

Promotes Heart Health

The many valuable nutrients found in bananas positively impact several major cardiovascular risk factors, including blood pressure, cholesterol, and circulation.

Bananas are one of the best sources of potassium, delivering about 12% of the RDI in a medium fruit. Research links diets high in potassium with lower blood pressure levels – a major promoter of heart health.

Thanks to their pectin fiber content, bananas also benefit cholesterol levels. Studies show pectin has potent cholesterol-lowering abilities, without impacting HDL “good” cholesterol.

Furthermore, the potassium benefits of bananas may prevent plaque from building up in arteries by preventing the thickening of arterial walls.

The American Heart Association recommends consuming bananas and other potassium-rich foods to reduce heart disease risks.

Boosts Digestion and Weight Loss

With approximately 3 grams per medium fruit, bananas contain a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber important for digestive and weight management benefits.

The fiber slows digestion, allowing for better nutrient uptake in the body. This promotes healthy bacteria growth and prevents conditions like acid reflux and ulcers.

Additionally, the resistant starch and pectin in bananas act as prebiotics once in the digestive system. They trigger the growth of good gut bacteria which improves digestive motility and immunity.

A regular intake of bananas also helps control appetite and caloric intake, especially between meals. Both lean and overweight individuals report greater satiety and lower hunger levels from eating bananas. This makes them a valuable component of any weight loss diet.

May Lessen PMS Symptoms

Menstruating women who experience moderate-to-severe PMS symptoms may benefit from adding bananas to their daily meal plans.

Bananas contain high levels of B vitamins including riboflavin and pyridoxine (B6). Studies show B6 supplementation effectively reduces overall PMS symptoms like cramps, headaches, and mood swings in many women.

Thanks to their potassium content, bananas can also help relieve common PMS issues like bloating and water retention. The minerals magnesium and manganese found in bananas further prevent fluid retention while regulating mood as well.

Boosts Energy and Mood

In addition to physical energy enhancement, bananas may increase mental focus and elevate your mood due to essential nutrients and interesting biologically active compounds.

As mentioned, bananas benefit your neurotransmitter function and cognitive skills thanks to vitamin B6, vitamin C, and magnesium. These vitamins aid the synthesis of key brain chemicals like dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin.

The mood-enhancing properties of bananas also come from tryptophan, the precursor for serotonin often used to treat depression.

Plus, research suggests the nutrient phenylalanine and fructooligosaccharide (a prebiotic fiber) in bananas both improve alertness, attention span, and general outlook.

Also read: Highest protein vegan foods

Supports Kidney Health

Kidney disease patients often follow a banana-rich diet due to the fruit’s mineral content and kidney-protective qualities.

Studies highlight that daily ingestion of bananas for those with chronic kidney disease may slow the disease’s progression and prevent complications.

In healthy individuals, the nutrients in bananas help prevent kidney stones, kidney cysts, and other renal health issues as well. The vitamins further protect kidney function by dissolving compounds that lead to stone development.

Improves Vision

Carrots may be the most touted food for healthy eyes, but bananas also support vision and eye health in important ways.

Bananas contain significant amounts of vitamin A compounds such as beta carotene (converted to vitamin A within the body). Diets rich in beta carotene safeguard vision and defend against degenerative damage to retina cells.

Additionally, the antioxidants in bananas prevent free radical damage linked to cataracts and macular degeneration – two leading causes of blindness around the world.

Boosts Immunity

With plentiful vitamin C and other key antioxidants, bananas benefit your immune system and ability to fight infections.

Vitamin C strengthens immunity by stimulating white blood cell production, increasing interferon capacity, and activating lymphocytes. Just one medium banana provides about 12% of your daily vitamin C needs.

Bananas also have antimicrobial benefits that protect the body from bacteria, viruses, and fungi that cause disease. Compounds in bananas even show anti-tumor abilities by slowing the growth of cancerous cells.

Helps Control Diabetes

Despite their natural sugar, bananas earn their place as a smart food choice even for diabetics due to their low glycemic index and presence of key nutrients.

Research analyzing thousands of adults found that daily consumption of bananas significantly lowers the risk for diabetes development by over 30%.

Additional studies highlight that unripe bananas improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar management due to high fiber and resistant starch content. Fiber slows sugar absorption into the bloodstream while resistant starch functions similarly to soluble fiber, aiding glucose control.

May Aid Sleep

Melatonin, the “sleep hormone”, is naturally found in several fruits and vegetables. While bananas contain only small amounts, this tryptophan-rich food still helps extend sleep duration and boost sleep quality.

The tryptophan in bananas is converted to serotonin and melatonin in the brain, both compounds that promote relaxation and control the sleep/wake cycles. The magnesium also relaxes muscles and nerves, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.

Research analyzing food patterns and sleep quality found that eating bananas (and oranges) more frequently resulted in better, longer sleep overall. The carbohydrates in the fruit also prevented nighttime hypoglycemia which impairs sleep.

Easy to Add to Your Diet

From breakfasts to snacks and desserts, bananas easily be incorporated into your daily meal plan. Here are some quick ideas:

  • Add sliced bananas to your morning yogurt, oatmeal, or cold cereal
  • Top peanut butter or avocado toast with banana slices
  • Make banana overnight oats by mixing oats, milk, and mashed banana
  • Enjoy a banana with nut butter or dark chocolate for an afternoon pick-me-up
  • Blend frozen bananas into your smoothies, milkshakes, or ice cream
  • Mix bananas into pancake or waffle batter
  • Use mashed ripe bananas in baked goods like muffins and breads
  • For a simple two-ingredient banana ice cream, blend frozen chunks in a food processor

As you can see, adding bananas to your diet provides a wide range of health and nutritional benefits, from better digestive health and weight management to enhanced brain function and immunity against disease.

Also read: Diet Plans for Weight Loss

The versatility and easy transport make bananas the perfect addition to any eating plan. While exceptionally healthy on their own, they also pair well with other fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and various protein sources.

Banana peels also supply additional health-boosting compounds, including antioxidants and polyphenols linked to fighting cancers and chronic illnesses.

For optimal freshness and nutritional value, allow unripe bananas to fully ripen at room temperature for a sweeter flavor and smoother texture. The sugars continue increasing while starch decreases during ripening, but the carbohydrate amounts stay consistent.

Ripe bananas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and retain their excellent nutrient profile, however, they turn brown fairly quickly once sliced open. The oxidative process and resulting darker flesh do not negatively impact the banana’s quality though.

So embrace the mighty banana in both ripe and unripe forms to amplify your vitality and well-being. With so many health and nutrition bonuses from this budget-friendly fruit, adding a daily banana serves as one of the simplest ways to achieve better health and all-day energy.

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