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Nutritional Benefits of Bananas

The largest perennial herb in the world is the tropical banana plant, which grows up to 25 feet tall, according to the Chiquita Banana company website. It’s also the most widely-purchased fruit on the planet, far outstripping the sale of oranges and apples. Bananas are a heart-healthy food for you, filled with minerals, fiber and vitamins. They have the added benefit of being low in fat and sodium, free of cholesterol and a great source of potassium.

The banana is one of the most potassium-rich roods, bringing this essential mineral to your diet in a sweet form. Potassium is an essential mineral that interacts with sodium to regulate your body’s balance of fluids, helping your kidneys work properly. Nervous system and heart function also depend on potassium, which is an electrolyte. Nerve, muscle and heart cells use electrolytes to balance their electrical voltages and transmit electrical impulses. One average banana contains 422 mg of potassium, which satisfies 12 percent of the suggested daily allowance for an adult woman.

Enjoy a banana and you’ll take in 22 percent of your body’s daily need for vitamin B-6, a nutrient that supports function of your nervous system. It also helps your body use protein and aids in the manufacture of red blood and immune cells. B-6 deficiency can cause depression, cognitive difficulty and irritability. One banana can also meet 17 percent of an adult woman’s daily vitamin C requirement. Your body can't store vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin, so it's vital to eat foods containing this vitamin every day.

An average banana provides about 110 calories, mostly in the form of carbohydrate. It also contains vitamins A, E and B vitamins riboflavin, niacin and thiamine. Additionally, the fruit contains the minerals phosphorus, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium. Bananas possess an amino acid called tryptophan, which helps produce the mood-regulating hormone serotonin that contributes to a feeling of wellness and a calm mood.

Bananas are a rich source of dietary fiber, which isn't digested by your body but has many health benefits. Also called or roughage, you should take in about 25 grams of fiber daily if you're an adult woman. One banana has about 3 grams of fiber. The many benefits of consuming fiber include lowering cholesterol and preventing constipation and diverticulitis. Fiber-filled meals also make you feel full longer than those containing mainly non-fibrous foods, possibly helping you with a weight control program.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.