Bananas are nature’s version of candy: they’re so naturally sweet that they make anything you pair them with taste like dessert and a much healthier version of it.
Even with its unwavering popularity, some still avoid bananas because they're higher in carbs and sugar than many other fruits. But here's the thing: it's easy to forget that your body actually needs carbs to fuel your body, and unlike processed sweet treats, a banana's naturally occurring sugars are accompanied by many vitamins and minerals. Plus, bananas are also rich in fiber, which slows your digestion of sugar, not to mention helps keep you feeling full.
One medium banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium, or about 12 percent of your daily value of the mineral, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Your body needs plenty of potassium to operate normally. This electrolyte helps your muscles contract, nerves function, move nutrients into cells, regulate your heartbeat, and regulate sodium in your body. Here are 6 reasons to eat a banana a day.
1. Bananas help keep you hydrated
Potassium plays a part here by helping regulate the balance of fluids in your body, especially the electrolytes you lose after a sweaty workout. Moderate to intense activity can cause small cellular changes in potassium, and athletes are encouraged to eat potassium rich foods to counteract these imbalances, according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
2. Bananas are good for your gut
One medium banana has 3 grams of fiber (about 10 percent of your daily intake). Bananas also contain prebiotics, a type of fermentable fiber that helps the good bacteria in your gut. It’s great for your overall health, since research suggests it may improve digestion, shorten the duration of your cold, and even aid in weight loss.
3. Bananas are the perfect pre-workout fuel
The best snack to eat before a work out are the ones that contain natural sugars (carbs) for energy, but aren’t too harsh on your stomach. Bananas check off both of those boxes, and are portable enough to throw in a gym bag. Research suggests that bananas have unique compounds that can enhance athletic performance.
4. Bananas are good for your heart
Research shows that eating lots of potassium is associated with significantly lower blood pressure levels and a decrease risk of a stroke. That’s because potassium helps flush excess heart-stressing sodium from your body through your urine, reducing the potential damage it may have on your ticker.
5. Bananas are rich in vitamin B6
While vitamin B6 doesn’t see the spotlight all that often, it’s an essential vitamin for a reason. Bananas contain nearly one third of your daily value of vitamin B6, which is important for brain development during pregnancy and enzyme reactions involved in metabolism. Most Americans don’t seem to fall short on their intake, but it doesn’t hurt to eat foods that are naturally rich in the nutrient.
6. Bananas keep your kidneys healthy
A banana a day may keep the doctor away. In a study of 61,000 Swedish women, researchers found that people who ate lots of fruits and vegetables-more than 75 servings per month, or roughly 3 servings total per day-had the lowest risk of developing renal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer.
When researchers looked at fruits specifically, bananas seemed to have the most pronounced effect due to their high concentration of phenolics, compounds with antioxidant effects.
Another large study of more than 90,000 women also found that women who consumed more than 4,099 milligrams of potassium daily had a 35 percent lower risk of kidney stones than women who downed less than 2,407 mg. That’s because potassium can also help your body get rid of excess calcium, a building block of the most common type of kidney stone.
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