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Scientists across the world endorse ‘eating bananas’ and for good reason. The yellow hued fruit is a storehouse of nutrients. Another thing about this fruit is that it perhaps is world’s ‘first fruit’.
Dan Koeppel, author of Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, is of firm conviction that banana, instead of apple was likely the “forbidden fruit” of the Garden of Eden, that Eve offered Adam. The fact is that Americans eat more bananas than apples and oranges combined.
A standard banana (around 125 grams) is deemed to be one serving, and consists of 110 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of protein. The yellow curved fruit is naturally free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
Bananas provide a range of vitamins and minerals:
Vitamin B6 – .5 mg
Manganese – .3 mg
Vitamin C – 9 mg
Potassium – 450 mg
Dietary Fiber – 3g
Protein – 1 g
Magnesium – 34 mg
Folate – 25.0 mcg
Riboflavin – .1 mg
Niacin – .8 mg
Vitamin A – 81 IU
Iron – .3 mg
Banana’s multifarious health benefits
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Blood pressure: In order to lower blood pressure you need to maintain a low sodium intake, nevertheless, increasing potassium intake is equally vital because of its vasodilation effects. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reports: not even 2% of US adults meet the daily 4700 mg recommendation.
A high potassium intake definitely lowers risk of dying from all causes by 20%.
Asthma: In a study done by the Imperial College of London it was found that children who had one banana daily reduced the chance of developing asthma by 34%.
Cancer: Having bananas, oranges and orange juice in the initial 2 years of life reduces the risk of developing childhood leukemia. Bananas are a good source of vitamin C, thus help fight the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. Having fiber rich fruits like bananas lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Heart Health: Mark Houston, MD, MS, an associate clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Medical School and director of the Hypertension Institute at St Thomas Hospital in Tennessee, says that an increase in potassium intake coupled with a decrease in sodium intake is a vital dietary change that a person can make to cut their risk of cardiovascular disease.
A study found that those who took 4069 mg of potassium per day had a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium (around 1000 mg per day).
Some more benefits of high potassium intake are: reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.
Diabetes: According to several studies type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. A standard-sized banana gives nearly 3 grams of fiber.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21-25 g/day for women and 30-38 g/day for men.
Diarrhea Treatment: Diarrhea can be treated by having bland foods like apple sauce and bananas. There’s a massive loss of electrolytes like potassium during bouts of diarrhea and make those affected feel weak. Bananas not only promote regularity but also replenish potassium stores.
Banana to preserve memory and boost mood: Bananas carry tryptophan, an amino acid that according to studies plays a role in preserving memory and boosting your mood.
Have more bananas
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You can get fresh bananas at any time during the year. Always store bananas at room temperature – a warm temperature help bananas ripen faster. Alternatively, to slow ripening you can refrigerate them. To ripen banana faster place it in a brown paper bag at room temperature.
A well known diet fad dubbed the ”Morning Banana Diet” suggest having a banana in the morning along with water, eating a normal lunch and having dinner before 8pm. Ripe mashed bananas can be used in baked goods in place of oil or butter. Mashed bananas bestow a moist, naturally sweet flavor to muffins, cookies and cakes.
Peeled and freezed bananas make an amazing addition to any smoothie.
Slice a banana and add it to your morning cereal or oatmeal – to make it more healthy. Moreover, banana makes a healthy, portable snack that you can carry with you on your way to work or school.
Risks and precautions
Beta-blockers, the most commonly prescribed medication for heart disease, boost potassium levels in the blood. Moderate your intake of high potassium foods like bananas when taking beta-blockers.
Those with dysfunctional kidneys should avoid consuming high quantities of potassium. If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal.
Dr. Peter S. Gelfand, who practices Internal Medicine in Long Beach NY, says:
“Certain medications used for heart disease and hypertension have the potential to increase potassium levels. Examples include certain Beta blockers such as Labetalol, medications that work by blocking the actions of the hormone Aldosterone such as Lisinopril and Losartan ; And certain Diuretics like Spironolactone and Eplerenone. This is a partial list only, and you should consult with your doctor if potassium levels become a concern.”