Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Bananas

1. Introduction

Fruits and vegetables are an important component of a healthy diet. Some fruits like bananas offer great medical benefits. This is partly because bananas aid in the body’s retention of calcium, nitrogen, and phosphorus, all of which work to build healthy and regenerated tissues. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss some of these benefits. Bananas can be used to fight intestinal disorders like ulcers. Bananas are one of the few fruits that ulcer patients can safely consume.

Bananas neutralize the acidity of gastric juices, thereby reducing ulcer irritation by coating the lining of the stomach. Not only can bananas relieve painful ulcer systems, and other intestinal disorders, they can also promote healing. The fruit is also used as treatment for burns and wounds. For immediate pain relief, beat a ripe banana into a paste and spread it over a burn or wound. For best results, cover the area with a cloth bandage. Even banana leaves can be used as a cool compress for burns or wounds. Other medical benefits of bananas include aiding in constipation and diarrhea relief, treatment of arthritis, treatment of anemia

1.1 Nutritional Value of Banana

Bananas are an excellent source of potassium. Potassium can be found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and even meats, however, a single banana provides you with 23% of the potassium that you need on a daily basis. Potassium benefits the muscles as it helps maintain their proper working and prevents muscle spasms. In addition, recent studies are showing that potassium can help to decrease blood pressure in individuals who are potassium deficient. Potassium also reduces the risk of stroke. Bananas are also an excellent source of vitamins, including:

1. A – aids in healthy teeth, bones, soft tissue, and more
2. B6 – aids the body’s immune system, promotes brain health, heart health, and more
3. C – aids in healing, growth of tissue, ligaments, and more
4. D – helps the body to absorb calcium

As you can see by the vitamins present, bananas aid in keeping the body healthy in a number of ways, but there is a major benefit to the bones and muscles in the human body. Because bananas contain 41% of what you need each day in vitamin B6, you will find that eating bananas helps to increase your focus and mental acuity. In addition, bananas aid in vitality, which means that you will have more energy both mentally and physically.

In fact, some studies show that bananas can help improve your mood whether you have the blues or are suffering from PMS. Bananas are also an excellent food for people who want to lose weight. Although they are rather high in calories (200 per banana) and carbs (51 gm), they are a great source of energy. A banana eaten before a workout can provide you with the necessary energy to complete a longer workout. Bananas provide you with many health benefits, but in addition to all of that, most people enjoy eating bananas as well. The can be eaten alone or combined with a fruit salad, added to jello, or made into a smoothie or a milkshake. They are one of the most affordable fruits in the marketplace and can be found year round nearly everywhere in the world!

1.2 Medicinal Properties of Banana

Beneficial effects
 The fruit has a mild laxative property
 It is used as a remedy of constipation in children
 It is believed to be helpful in curing diarrhea and dysentery
 The fruit is used to heal the intestine lesions
 It forms the part of diets of children suffering from malnutrition
 The core of the stem is believed to be useful in stomach upset and diabetes
 The extract of core of the stem is considered to be useful in dissolving the stones in the kidney and urinary bladder and reducing the weight. The inflorescence mixed with coconut oil and spices is used for flushing the urinary blocks
 The fruit is believed to reduce the worm problems in the kids

1.3 Medicinal Qualities

Bananas are a highly nutritious fruit, but do they have any medicinal properties beyond their nutritive value. While it may come as a surprise to those of us accustomed to using bananas for baking and banana splits and little else, Perdue University boldly states that every part of the banana plant has medicinal properties. Among the properties cited:
 Flowers: Used to treat dysentery, ulcers, and bronchitis. Cooked, flowers are considered a good food for diabetics.

 Sap: Chemically, banana sap has astringent qualities. In traditional medicine, the sap is used to treat a wide variety of ailments, including leprosy, hysteria, fever, digestive disorders, hemorrhage, epilepsy, hemorrhoids, and insect bites.

 Roots and Seeds: Treat digestive disorders

 Peel and Pulp: Scientifically shown to have both antifungal and antibiotic components. These structures have also been identified as containing the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine.

1.4 Medicinal Importance

Reduced risk of high blood pressure Bananas are one of the best sources of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. A medium-sized banana provides 350 mg of potassium. The effectiveness of potassium-rich foods in lowering blood pressure has been demonstrated by a number of studies. The US Food and Drug Administration have allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

According to the FDA, “Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.” Plus, potassium helps your body maintain normal fluid and electrolyte balances in the cells. Scientists report that natural compounds in bananas act in a manner similar to antihypertensive drugs. The team studied six popular banana varieties and found that all had ACEinhibiting properties, though the ripened bananas had a stronger action than unripe ones. Researchers have reported that blood pressure fell by 10% in people who ate two bananas daily for a week.

1.5 Reduced Risk of Stroke

Scientists suggest that people with a low amount of potassium in their diet may have an increased risk of stroke. A study of 5,600 people aged over 65 found that those with the lowest intake of the potassium were 50% more likely to suffer a stroke. High-potassium foods, like bananas, may lower the risk of stroke, but researchers say that more studies are needed to confirm whether increasing potassium in the diet can prevent strokes.

1.6 Restore normal bowel activity

Because the banana is rich in nondigestible fibers (including cellulose, hemicellulose, and alphaglucans) it can help restore normal bowel activity and help with both constipation and diarrhea. Bananas normalize the colon’s function to absorb large amounts of water for regular bowel movements. Their usefulness is due to their richness in pectin, which is water-absorbent and this gives them a bulk producing ability. Bananas are an exceptionally rich source of fructooligosaccharide, a compound called a prebiotic because it nourishes probiotic (friendly) bacteria in the colon.

These beneficial bacteria produce vitamins and digestive enzymes that improve our ability to absorb nutrients, plus compounds that protect us against unfriendly microorganisms. When fructooligosaccharides are fermented by these friendly bacteria, not only do numbers of probiotic bacteria increase, but so does the body’s ability to absorb calcium. For this reason, ingesting antibiotics harm these beneficial bacteria. Research published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences underscores just how much bananas can improve nutrient absorption.

In this study, 57 babies (5-12 months) with persistent diarrhea of at least 14 days duration were given a week’s treatment with a rice-based diet containing either green banana, apple pectin or the rice diet alone. Treatment with both green banana and apple pectin resulted in a 50% reduction in stool weights, indicating that the babies were absorbing significantly more nutrients.

1.7 Protection from ulcers & Heartburn remedy

Bananas have long been recognized for their antacid effects that protect against stomach ulcers and ulcer damage. A flavonoid in the banana, leucocyanidin, has been found to significantly increase the thickness of the mucous membrane layer of the stomach. Since bananas help to neutralize acidity, they are also a great way to get rid of heartburn. In an animal study, a simple mixture of banana and milk significantly suppressed acid secretion.

1.8 Protection against neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease)

Researchers at Cornell University investigated the effects of apple, banana, and orange extracts on neuron cells and found that the phenolic phytochemicals of the fruits prevented neurotoxicity on the cells. Among the three fruits, apples contained the highest content of protective antioxidants, followed by bananas then oranges. These results suggest that fresh apples, banana, and orange in our daily diet along with other fruits may protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity and may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

1.9 Perfect Baby food

Bananas are the best solid food to introduce to infants. A mashed ripe banana is an extremely simple and healthy baby food. Potassium, Fiber, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Selenium, Iron, Vitamins A, B2, B6, C, E, Niacin, Folate, and Pantothenic Acid. Furthermore, bananas are very easy to digest and rarely cause allergic reactions. Bananas are part of the BRAT diet, a diet many physicians recommend for children recovering from gastrointestinal problems, particularly diarrhea. Recent study found evidence that a higher consumption of bananas and apple juice from concentrate may protect against wheezing in children.

1.10 Cholesterol-lowering effect

Animal studies have shown that banana has the potential to lower cholesterol. It was suggested that the dietary fibre component in banana pulp was responsible for its cholesterol-lowering effect. The amount of dietary fibre in banana is relatively constant during banana ripening.

1.11 Kidney Health

Bananas promote an overall improvement of the functional efficiency of kidneys. Benefits to the kidneys are again due to the high potassium content of bananas. A normal intake of potassium suppresses calcium excretion in the urine and minimizes the risk of kidney stones. The results of the Swedish population based prospective study (13.4 years) of 61,000 women aged 40-76, show that women eating more than 75 servings of fruits and vegetables per month (which translates into 2.5 per day) cut their risk of kidney cancer 40%. Among the fruits, bananas were especially protective. Women eating bananas four to six times a week halved their risk of developing the disease compared to those who did not eat this fruit.

1.12 Hang-over

One of the fastest ways to cure hang-over is to make a dairy banana cocktail with milk and honey. Bananas are known to calm an upset stomach and help rehydrate your body. Bananas are rich in the important electrolytes, magnesium and potassium, which are severely depleted during heavy drinking. Banana with the honey builds up the depleted blood sugar levels, providing some energy.

1.13 Energy booster

Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. Potassium is also essential for helping muscles to contract properly during exercise and reduces cramping up. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout.

1.14 Immunity booster

Bananas contain 25 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin B6, necessary for producing antibodies and red blood cells as well as aiding in the metabolism of fat. In addition, vitamin B6 serves as an immunity booster. So, this fruit strengthens your armor against infectious diseases. With each averagesized banana, you ingest about 15% of the RDA for vitamin C, one of the strongest antioxidants.

1.15 Depression

According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier. PMS: Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

1.16 Industrial Uses

The aforementioned antifungal properties of banana pulp and peel have been successfully used to treat tomato fungus in an agricultural setting. In their home countries, locals use banana leaves for everything from umbrellas to construction materials. Banana and plantain fibers are used throughout the world to weave ropes, mats and other textiles. Tannins present in ripe banana peel act as tanning agents in leather processing.

1.17 Cultural and Environmental Care

Bananas prefer rich, fertile soils and a sunny, sheltered location. These plants thrive under uniformly warm or hot conditions. Plant growth slows if temperatures fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and irreversible freeze damage may occur below 32 degrees. High winds can cause leaf shredding and drying and may topple plants. Banana plants require ample water and will suffer if the soil dries out; however, they are not flood tolerant. Each stem only produces flowers and fruits once, so the active stem must be cut away to allow new suckers to emerge.

1.18 Common Pests and Diseases

Banana plants, whether grown indoors or on a plantation, may be bothered by a number of pests and pathogens. Nematodes are often a major problem and are best controlled with nematicides, repeated plowing and sun exposure or crop rotation. Additionally, corms should be disinfected in hot water solutions before planting. Other banana pests include the black weevil and various species of thrips and mites. Several fungi, bacteria and viruses can attack banana plants, causing the development of symptoms that range from leaf spots or streaks to rotting fruit or roots.

1.19 Food Uses

All banana plants can produce edible fruit, but the fruit taste, seediness, color, size and other characteristics depend on the species or variety. Bananas can be peeled and eaten raw, baked peeled or unpeeled, made into a puree suitable for infants and used in many other ways. In addition to this plant’s highly versatile fruit, peeled stems can be chopped and added to salads or steamed with other vegetables.

1.20 Non-Food Uses

Banana leaves are commonly used as plants, for wrapping food and as an eye-shade or for protection from rain. The banana pseudostem can be utilized for its fiber. The pulp can be used to manufacture rope, paper, place mats and other goods, but the pseudostem is often most valuable economically if it is chopped and left in a field for its organic matter content. All parts of the banana have medicinal value. For example, flowers can be cooked and eaten by diabetics or used for bronchitis, dysentery and ulcers. Plant sap can be taken internally or applied externally to stings and bites. The young leaves can be used as a poultice for skin irritations. The roots, ashes of peels and leaves and seed mucilage also serve medicinal purposes in some regions and cultures.

1.21. Benefits

 1. The ripe fruit is laxative when eaten early in the morning.
 2. An excellent food for those anemic persons, having general weakness, jaundice, nervous breakdown, obesity, weak digestion and vitamin deficiency.
 3. Decoction of the unripe fruit is good for diarrhea and scurvy.
 4. The juice of the plant is taken to cure hemorrhages, cholera, epilepsy and hysteria.
 5. An extract of the trunk’s juice can be used to massage scalp to promote healthy growth of hair and preventing hair loss.
 6. The pounded inflorescence “puso” is used as poultice for skin ulcers and wounds.  7. The flowers are taken as an infusion in normal doses for painful menstruation.
 8. The fresh flower can be cooked and eaten to treat diabetes. It is also good for the weak heart.
 9. Eating ripe bananas can prevent constipation, colitis, and heartburn.
 10. For bladder infection eat 3 to 4 bananas a day.

1.22 Hair Care

 There are a number of benefits of bananas. The benefits are not just limited to health but also extend up to beauty treatments as well. It is an effective beauty treatment for skin as well as hair.
 Bananas are great for your hair and scalp. They improve manageability and shine while moisturizing your skin and helping to prevent and control dandruff.
 Banana is rich in: Potassium, Natural oils, Carbohydrates and Vitamins.
 These help in softening the hair and protects the hair’s natural elasticity preventing split ends and breakage. Bananas when used for hair has a number of benefits such as it creates manageability, shine, growth and controls dandruff. These are simply the best for hair and the scalp.

 Bananas enhance the strength, endurance and shine of the hair and can be referred to as the bananafood. Most of the banana hair products are available only at expensive spas and salons. However, you can make your own banana hair conditioner or mask. Just like a facial mask enhances the glow of your face immediately, a hair mask also improves your hair dramatically. Bananas are full of vitamins and is a number one ingredient for strengthening and volumizing the hair. It helps in repairing dry and sun-damaged hair.

 The damages of hair that are caused to the hair by exposure to the dirt, pollution and other environmental toxins can be treated with the banana mask. Banana helps in protecting the hair from further damage. The vitamin B helps in the prevention of split ends.

 The type of hair that is suitable for this treatment are dry hair, dyed hair and for hair after perm. It also serves as an excellent treatment for addressing the problem of dandruff and is helpful in retaining moisture on your scalp. However, if you are allergic to any of the ingredients used in the pack then it is best to avoid using it.

 Bananas contain minerals and other nutrients that promote hair recovery and rehabilitation. Banana mask is perfectly suited for dry, dyed hair and for hair after the perm.

1.23 Traditional Uses of Banana

Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes. But energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

 Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana.
 This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

 PMS: Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

 Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

 Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure.
 So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

 Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middle-sex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power.  Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

 Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

 Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

 Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

 Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

 Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin.  Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

 Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

 Overweight: Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs.

 The report concluded that, to avoid panicinduced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

 Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases.  It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

 Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a “cooling ” fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

 Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

 Smoking &Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

 Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

 Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%.

 Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape! So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills.

2.6 Health Benefits of Eating Bananas
· healthy bowels
· cardiovascular health
· protection from strokes
· protection from ulcers
· improve blood pressure
· may boost mood
· boost energy
· help reduce water retention

2.7 Bananas and losing weight:
Bananas may be one of the best fruits to eat when attempting to lose weight. They are full of nutrients for increased energy and vitality. Bananas are also low in calories and fat, plus they have a high water content and potassium levels. A diet high in potassium foods and lower in sodium-loaded processed foods can help reduce water weight

2.8 Banana Nutrition Health Benefits:
Banana has a good nutritional value and one serving of banana carries 70 calories. It is also a good source of potassium, fiber and other phytochemicals. One may ask, “Does banana nutrition help weight loss?” or “What nutrition health benefits are there?”. In the following section, we are going to review what the banana nutrition health benefits based on scientific studies.

2.9 Cancer:
Banana nutrition may benefit people at risk of certain cancers. In a study, family history, past history of illness and dietary information of 279 patients suffered from colorectal cancer were studied, a protective effect provided by banana and papaya on colorectal cancer was served. Dietary fiber was found to decrease the colorectal cancer risk.

2.10 Cardiovascular Protection:
Banana is a good source of potassium. Potassium maintains normal blood pressure and heart function. One serving of banana contains 467 mg of potassium, this makes people to believe that one banana a day may help to prevent hypertension or even atherosclerosis. A number of studies have demonstrated this banana nutrition benefit. Potassium may further promote bone health. As potassium may prevent the calcium loss in urine, which is caused by high salt diets.

2.11 Cholesterol:
In a study of male rats on a diet containing lard (50 g/kg) and cholesterol (5 g/kg), freeze-dried banana pulp showed a marked cholesterol-lowering effect when incorporated into a diet at the level of 300 or 500 g/kg, while the hot-air dried banana pulp did not show the effect.


2.12 Diabetes:
In a study, chemical compositions and glycemic indices of four varieties of banana were determined. Silk, Gros Michel, Pisang Awak and Mysore contained high percentages of starch (14%), sucrose (38%), free glucose (29%) and fructose (58%) as a percentage of the total available carbohydrate content respectively. Total dietary fiber contents of four varieties ranged from 2.7 to 5.3%. Glycemic indices were about 65 and can be categorized as low against white bread as the standard.

A single banana of the four varieties elicited a low glycemic load. Researchers in the study suggest that consumption of a banana from any of these varieties may be a snack for healthy or diabetic patients who are under dietary management or pharmacological drugs to regulate blood glucose responses in between meals.

2.13 Diarrhea:
It has been thought that the banana pectin (a soluble polymer) can help normalize bowel movement and ease constipation. However, intake of banana may benefit people suffered from diarrhea. A study also indicate this banana nutrition benefits. In a study, 31 patients with diarrhea and receiving enteral feedings were randomized to receive either banana flakes or medical treatment for diarrhea. The researchers found that the banana flake group had less diarrhea clinically, with 57% of the subjects diarrhea free on their last study day as opposed to 24% of the medically treated subjects.

2.14 Stomach Ulcer:
Banana has been used as an antacid to protect stomach against ulcers and ulcer damage. A mixture of banana and milk may decrease acid secretion. It is believed that banana allows a thicker mucus barrier against stomach acids and contains protease inhibitors. Protease inhibitors help eliminate bacteria causing the stomach ulcers.

Conclusions

The banana is of great nutritional value. It has a rare combination of energy value, tissue-building elements, protein, vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of calories since it is rich in solids and low in water content as compared to any other fresh fruit. Bananas are a good source of Vitamin C which helps to rebuild the immune system. Bananas are also relatively easy to digest as compared to other foods and so they are invaluable to those with compromised immune systems.

Vitamin C also increases the absorption of iron and increases the formation of blood, these two health benefits of bananas make it ideally suited for those with anemia or blood related problems. Bananas can also be included in a diet for high blood pressure as they contain potassium which helps to reduce and control high blood pressure. Furthermore, bananas do not contain even trace amounts of fat, cholesterol, or sodium which makes it a healthy food option even for restrictive diet plans.

There are several types of bananas which are classified according to their taste and the color of their skin. Red bananas have a red peel and the flesh of the fruit is light pink in color. Red bananas are best if they are allowed to ripen fully at room temperature. They can be used to add a dash of color and sweetness to a mixed fruit platter. Apple bananas are smaller than the usual varieties of bananas and are yellow in color. They tend to ripen much faster and so it is important to check on them regularly to ensure that they do not get spoilt.

The baby banana is one of the smallest varieties of bananas and they are yellow in color. They are very sweet and are perfect for infants and toddlers. It is best to blend these bananas into a thick puree before feeding it to infants. Baking bananas are very large and are often used in baked dishes as a unique and exotic substitute for potatoes. Ripe banana health benefits are very varied and so the health benefits of ripe bananas should be taken into account when deciding on a diet plan.

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