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What are the Health Benefits of Bananas?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Bananas have a number of health benefits that can make them an excellent addition to a balanced diet. It is important to recognize that, although this fruit is very healthy, it is not a superfood, and it needs to be eaten with a combination of other healthy foods for maximum benefits. While a banana a day may help to keep the doctor away, to paraphrase a popular saying, the benefits of bananas alone are not sufficient for human caloric needs.

This tropical fruit is naturally high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. All of these nutrients are vitally necessary to human health, and they provide a variety of health benefits. Most verifiable claims about their health benefits revolve around the high nutritional value of the banana.

Bunch of bananas.
Bunch of bananas.

Because bananas are high in fiber, they are easy to digest, and they also promote a healthy digestion. They are often touted as a good soft food for children and people recovering from gastrointestinal issues, especially people with loose stools. The high magnesium level makes them good for blood pressure, promoting cardiovascular health, while potassium is beneficial for the muscles. Some people like to make a point of eating one after exercising to replenish minerals that may have been lost while working out.

Bananas are an ideal soft snack for children.
Bananas are an ideal soft snack for children.

Bananas can also make a great choice of snack food, because they are naturally sweet without a great deal of sugar or fat, making them an excellent alternative to processed sweetened and fatty snacks. The high fiber content can also help a snacker to fill up, reducing caloric intake and encouraging healthy eating as part of a weight loss plan. For snacking on the go, a banana comes with its own biodegradable packaging, and picky eaters may be willing to snack on one when they reject other foods.

People may consume bananas following a workout to replenish minerals.
People may consume bananas following a workout to replenish minerals.

Some of the other claimed health benefits of bananas are a bit more difficult to verify. For example, some studies seem to suggest that they benefit mental health, promoting emotional balance and happiness, and perhaps even acting as a mild sedative. Other claims have been made to suggest that the fruit may help prevent ulcers, heartburn, morning sickness, strokes, stress, and depression, and that it can also improve brain function. These claims have been difficult to verify. As a general rule, a long list of claims about any food should be viewed as suspect, since no food has everything the body needs.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

OeKc05

I always take a banana with me in my lunch sack when I go to work. Sometimes, the other food I take doesn't quite fill me up, but the banana takes care of this.

Bananas are surprisingly filling. If you eat one by itself and you are really hungry, you probably won't get full, but if you eat one along with a sandwich or a bowl of cereal, you will most likely be satisfied.

I hate being hungry at work. One of the many benefits of eating a banana is that I don't have to live with hunger pangs in the afternoon. The banana will keep me going until I get home from work and make dinner.

StarJo
The benefits of a banana for my husband lie in the fact that it is about the only healthy thing he will eat. All day long, he snacks on potato chips and ice cream, but if I offer him a banana, he takes it readily.

This always surprises me. I keep plenty of bananas around the house, because he desperately needs the nutrition.

I don't even have to cut them up and put sugar or chocolate on them. He just eats them right out of the peel.

JackWhack

@golf07 – Bananas are an excellent source of potassium. This is what can prevent muscle cramps.

I used to wake up in the middle of the night with horribly painful leg cramps. Massaging them didn't help, and walking on them only hurt worse. All I could do was wait for the pain to pass.

Then I learned that a lack of potassium might be causing me to have cramps. I started eating a banana every day, and before long, I stopped waking up with leg pains.

On days when I forget to eat a banana, I sometimes experience cramps. So, I know that the bananas are keeping them away.

kylee07drg

I'm surprised that bananas are high in fiber. Most things that have lots of fiber in them are rough, like whole grain cereal and the peelings of vegetables and fruits, like apples. Bananas are so smooth, so they hide their fiber content well.

ysmina

@literally45-- I think it's because bananas are a good energy source. It has fruit sugar as well as fiber. So it will raise blood sugar relatively slowly and keep the individual energetic for a long time. I heard that tennis players eat just a banana before games for more energy.

I eat them for banana's nutritional benefits. For one, I have a magnesium deficiency. Second, bananas have Vitamin B6 which is necessary for so many vital functions. I heard that vitamin B6 protects against depression too.

literally45

Why do people who engage in a lot of sports eat bananas regularly? Are bananas particularly good for you if you're an athlete?

discographer

Bananas are really good for the stomach. Whenever I experience upset stomach or stomach flu, I try to eat bland foods that won't make my stomach worse. I absolutely love bananas at this time. I have it by itself, or sometimes I put it through the blender with some milk. I instantly feel better and it tastes very good as well.

My cousin recently had her tonsils removed and the doctor also suggest bananas for her. Since bananas are soft, it didn't irritate her throat.

golf07

Once when I had some blood work done, it showed that I was a little low in potassium. My doctor told me to eat a banana a day and see what happened. I followed his advice and was tested again a few weeks later and my blood work was normal.

Since then I have tried to eat bananas several times a week. There are health benefits of eating a banana, and I love the taste of them, plus they are so convenient to eat. You don't need a knife to cut them, they aren't juicy or sticky and don't take a long time to eat or chew. Seems like I read that they are one of the best super foods you can eat.

bookworm

Because bananas are available year round, and they are relatively inexpensive, it is a good fruit to eat daily.

Along other fruits and vegetables bananas have high levels of potassium which is known to reduce blood pressure.

Potassium helps the kidneys to process sodium out of the system.

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    • Bunch of bananas.
      Bunch of bananas.
    • Bananas are an ideal soft snack for children.
      By: Andrey Kuzmin
      Bananas are an ideal soft snack for children.
    • People may consume bananas following a workout to replenish minerals.
      By: Alliance
      People may consume bananas following a workout to replenish minerals.
    • People with high blood pressure may benefit from eating bananas due to their high magnesium levels.
      By: niyazz
      People with high blood pressure may benefit from eating bananas due to their high magnesium levels.
    • People who experience gastrointestinal issue may benefit from eating bananas.
      By: ohmega1982
      People who experience gastrointestinal issue may benefit from eating bananas.
    • Some theorize that eating bananas may help prevent morning sickness.
      By: Igor Mojzes
      Some theorize that eating bananas may help prevent morning sickness.
    • Red bananas.
      Red bananas.
    • Baby bananas.
      Baby bananas.
    • Bananas are easy to digest, so eating them promotes healthy digestion.
      By: Alliance
      Bananas are easy to digest, so eating them promotes healthy digestion.