Food & Recipes

16 Amazing Health Benefits Of Bananas You Probably Don’t Know About

Bananas are good for you—they have lots of potassium, among other things.

If you were raised like I was, you were taught that bananas are good for you—they have lots of potassium, among other things. So you ate them—and probably still do—but what does that potassium do for us, anyway?

The short answer: A lot. Some of the key highlights about how the mineral is a definite plus for our systems is the way it helps us build muscle, and keeps our hearts healthy and our bodies balanced in terms of metabolism.

Plus, bananas contain electrolytes, which help our cells stay healthy. (Yep, just like the electrolytes in Gatorade and Pedialyte!)

Plus, bananas win for “Most Popular Fruit”—at least according to the USDA and Economic Research Service (ERS). Apples, watermelon, and grapes followed in order of popularity (in case you were curious).

banana
Flickr | Sole Treadmill

In fact, bananas even have four times more protein than apples, plus more phosphorous and carbohydrates, to name a few, as well as a lot of fiber, iron and vitamin A. Bananas seem to have everything!

But aside from potassium, what do bananas do for us? Well, it turns out that they’re literally good for nearly every part of your body.

Here are 16 top things to keep in mind, so next time you’re reaching for some fruit, don’t forget about bananas. But make sure they’re ripe, as unripe ones have more starch and don’t produce quite the same results!

1. Bananas Help Energize You

Tired in the afternoon, especially mid-day? Instead of an energy drink or another cup of coffee, try a banana! The three natural sugars found in bananas—fructose, sucrose, and glucose—help cause the energy increase, as well as the fiber in the fruit.

And, unlike your favorite chocolate bar, don’t worry about a sugar crash after eating a banana. Fun fact: If you have two bananas, you’ll even have enough stamina to do about 90 minutes of exercise!

2. They Can Help Make You Happy

smiling photo
Photo by Moyan_Brenn

We all want to be (and stay) happy, right? The vitamin B6 in bananas, as well as the amino acid tryptophan, creates more serotonin, which will get you smiling for sure.

3. They Can Aid Your Immune System

We can thank the B6 in bananas once again for this one—helping to keep our immune systems in tip-top shape.

4. They Can Help People Stop Smoking

smoking photo
Photo by Moyan_Brenn

Are you trying to quit smoking? Then up the number of bananas you’re eating! Some of the ingredients—magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B12 and B6—can help against nicotine withdrawal.

5. Bananas Help With Weight Loss

Bananas help make us feel full, since they’re hearty and contain fiber. In addition, they contain lots of vitamins and minerals, another big win. And, Chicago’s Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation discovered that simply smelling a banana could help curb food cravings! That’s simple enough, right?!

6. Bananas Are Great For Your Heart

heart photo
Photo by Lhopfan

Bananas are great for your heart, so go stock up on them. More potassium and less sodium are key to reduce the chance of cardiovascular disease, according to 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. The potassium, fiber, and vitamins C and B6 all are heart-friendly, too.

7. They Are Also Great Against Heartburn

Bananas, even dried ones, help fight heartburn. Dr. P. Bradley Carey, says they’re a “natural antacid,” and I must say, they work. When heartburn comes on, just reach for a banana (or some of those dried bananas from places like Trader Joe’s). You can also get some banana powder at a health food store and carry some around.

8. Bananas Lower Blood Pressure

blood pressure photo
Photo by Army Medicine

One study found that having five bananas a day was about half as effective as taking medicine for hypertension. With their low sodium content and high potassium content, bananas are great for keeping your blood pressure on the low side.

9. Bananas Help Your Digestive System

Yes, bananas can regulate your digestive system, so no powders or pills are necessary when you have the natural fiber in bananas at hand.