‘B’ for Banana

‘B’ for Banana

by Dr Marli Botha

Good, better, Banana. You’ll never look at a banana the same way again after discovering the many health benefits and reasons to add them to your diet. Bananas combat depression, make you smarter, cure hangovers, relieve morning sickness, protect against kidney cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and blindness.


  • Health benefit of bananas when you’re training
    • Bananas can help athletes boost their performance when consumed before, during and after workouts and competitions. Eating half a banana every 15 minutes during exercise is as effective as sipping a comparable amount of sports drink in terms of sustaining exercise performance (Citation: Nieman DC, Gillitt ND, Henson DA, Sha W, Shanely RA, Knab AM, et al. (2012) Bananas as an Energy Source during Exercise: A Metabolomics Approach. PLoS ONE 7(5): e37479. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037479)
    • Each banana, on average, contains 30 g of carbohydrates, making it an effective source of energy for athletes. Carbohydrates supply athletes with the fuel for working out, as carbs support all muscle activity. Carbs are also essential for central nervous system maintenance and activity, helping to keep the mind responsive and reflexes intact. Gymnasts who consumed carbohydrates prior to performing balance beam routines had fewer falls from the beam, concluded a 2012 study published in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.”


  • Health benefit of bananas when you’re expecting
    • Of all fruits, bananas are the best source of vitamin B6, with one large banana providing 40% of Nutrient Reference Values (NRV). NRVs are a set of recommendations for nutritional intake based on currently available scientific knowledge. Vitamin B6 helps the body to make red blood cells, and neurotransmitters such as serotonin (the ‘feel-good’ hormone).
    • Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, which helps to keep blood pressure at a normal level, which is important during pregnancy. It is also important for a healthy nervous system and kidneys. One medium banana contains 350mg potassium, which is around 12% of the recommended daily intake (RDI).


  • Reasons to eat bananas you might have never considered before:
    • Bananas help overcome depression due to high levels of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin — the ‘happy-mood’ brain neurotransmitter.
    • Bananas act as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of friendly bacteria in the human bowel. They also produce digestive enzymes to assist in absorbing nutrients. Bananas are soothing to the digestive tract and help restore lost electrolytes after diarrhea.
    • Rub the inside of a banana peel on your leather shoes or handbag and polish with a dry cloth for a quick shine.
    • Rub a bug bite or hives with the inside of the banana peel to relieve itching and irritation.


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