It turns out Americans’ favorite fresh fruit isn’t just a yummy snack/breakfast supplement. Bananas––in particular ripe bananas––are loaded with a wide variety of nutrients you may not be aware of. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, each person in the U.S. eats 11.4 lbs. of bananas per year.
As per Laura Flores, a San Diego-based nutritionist via LiveScience, “Bananas are known to reduce swelling, protect against developing Type 2 diabetes, aid in weight loss, strengthen the nervous system and help with production of white blood cells, all due to the high level of vitamin B6 that bananas contain.”
Although unripe green bananas offer some health benefits, research has shown that nutrient levels of bananas rise as they ripen.
But what about the increased sugar in ripe bananas, you may wonder? Well, as with most, if not all things, moderation is key.
The USDA recommends that adults eat about two cups of fruit a day, or about the equivalent of two bananas. Thus, eating ripened bananas every day shouldn’t pose any health risks if you stay within these dietary guidelines.
Here are some things that may occur if you eat a proper serving of bananas daily:
You may regulate your blood sugar levels
Touting only 105 calories, bananas also contain resistant starch. According to Mark Hyman M.D., director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, resistant starch is a kind of starch that is not digested in the small intestine. Instead, your gut bacteria processes it, which promotes healthy blood sugar levels. Though those with type 2 diabetes may want to avoid eating too many ripe bananas (or monitor their blood sugar carefully if they do), they rank at a low-medium level of 60 on the glycemic index (GI), which measures how quickly foods increase blood sugar levels.
You may shed some weight
Though there haven’t been any studies on the direct impact of bananas on weight loss, the nutritional benefits of bananas suggest that they make a weight-loss friendly food option. Ripe bananas are high in soluble fiber, which per Healthline, will increase feelings of fullness, thereby suppressing your appetite when you’re tempted to (literally) bite off more than you can chew.
You may experience an increase in performance
According to a study from the Journal of Proteome Research, after fasting overnight, 20 male cyclists consumed only water or water with pears or bananas before cycling 75 kilometers at high intensity. Those who consumed water with fruit experienced a 50 percent faster recovery than those who consumed water alone. They were also faster and had more energy and focus.
You may lower your risk of heart problems
A diet loaded with potassium-rich foods is essential for good heart health. In fact, cardiologist John Day, M.D., says in an article on Everyday Health that these foods can help to lower your blood pressure. According to Healthline, one medium-sized banana alone contains 9 percent of the recommended daily intake of potassium. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends you aim for at least 4,700 milligrams of potassium each day in your diet.