The Health Benefits of Bananas

The Health Benefits of Bananas

The Health Benefits of Bananas

Rich in potassium and special carbohydrates, bananas have various health benefits.

A special antioxidant

Dopamine, a powerful water-soluble antioxidant in the catecholamine family (like that secreted by the body), has been identified in the banana of the popular commercial cultivar Musa cavendishii. The dopamine levels vary from 80-560 mg per 100 g of skin and 2.5-10 mg per 100 g of pulp, even in ripe bananas ready to eat.

Dopamine has demonstrated antioxidant activity similar to that of vitamin C, recognized as a particularly potent water-soluble antioxidant. Bananas contain both dopamine and vitamin C (15 mg per 100 g of bananas). It is therefore part of antioxidant foods.

Useful in preventing certain cancers?

The antioxidant power of bananas is important. Its TAC index (total antioxidant capacity) for a 118 g banana is 1,037 µmol. What effectively fight against free radicals, these unstable substances which damage other atoms by "oxidizing" them contributing to the appearance of several diseases and aging.

In a prospective study, carried out on 61,000 Swiss women aged 40 to 76 years, an inverse relationship between fruit consumption and the risk of kidney cancer was demonstrated. And it was among the biggest consumers of bananas who presented the lowest risk of cancer. These same relationships were also observed with colorectal cancer in a smaller study in women and men a few years ago. It seems that the phenolic compounds or other antioxidants present in bananas are at the origin of this protective action.

In 2016, the famous Nurses Study associated the consumption of vegetables and fruits during adolescence and early adulthood, and in particular bananas and apples, with a lower risk of breast cancer.

According to a 2014 study, bananas contain lectins (specific proteins that bind to carbohydrates) with anti-proliferative properties, which could also explain its effects against cancer.

An anti-depression fruit

The expression "having the banana" refers to the smile but it is also consistent with the virtues of this fruit. According to a survey of people prone to depression, many people say they feel better after eating a banana. The dopamine in bananas is undoubtedly not unrelated to this phenomenon which is however also explained by the presence of tryptophan, a substance which the body transforms into serotonin, the chemical messenger of the brain known for its relaxing effect and which causes a general well-being.

This cheerful effect is reinforced by the presence of good amounts of vitamin B6 (0.5 mg per 100 g, i.e. a quarter of the recommended daily intake). Also called pyridoxine, this vitamin is, among other things, useful for the production of various neurotransmitters associated with mood, including serotonin and dopamine. Some studies have shown that, taken in high doses, it would alleviate the depression associated with PMS.

A study has also shown that a diet rich in tryptophan, combined with an adequate supply of vitamin B6, promotes the production of serotonin and reduces symptoms of depression.

An ally of digestion

Bananas have long-known anti-acid and anti-ulcer effects. In rat experiments, ingestion of bananas prevents 75% of acid-induced ulcers. According to Dr. Ralph Best (University of Aston, Birmingham, UK), bananas work by stimulating the proliferation of stomach cells and mucus, which protect the mucous membrane against inflammation. Banana extract (especially plantain, but also the so-called "sweet" variety) could therefore protect the stomach lining against ulcers. The protective effects of bananas on the stomach vary greatly depending on the variety, the degree of ripeness and the season.

Bananas contain resistant starch (non-digestible sugar) which in the colon undergoes bacterial fermentation and then is converted into short chain fatty acids such as butyric acid. These stimulate the absorption of fluids and salt in the colon, thereby decreasing the loss of water in the stool. Short chain fatty acids are also said to indirectly improve the permeability of the small intestine, a phenomenon which also helps relieve symptoms of diarrhea. Short-chain fatty acids serve as food for bacteria in the colon, helping to maintain good gut health.

Two studies have been carried out in Bangladesh with babies with chronic diarrhea (boys aged 5 months to 12 months). Improvement in symptoms of diarrhea (reduced number and weight of stools, and duration of diarrhea) has been observed in children on a diet containing bananas.

Plantains contain more resistant starch than sweet bananas. In addition, as the banana matures, the amount of resistant starch decreases to the point that only bananas that have not reached their optimum ripening stage would contain significant starch.

Help against hypertension

Bananas are a fruit rich in potassium with a content of around 360 mg per 100 g. Knowing that a banana weighs about 150 g, eating one means consuming about 540 mg of potassium.

Many studies have linked low potassium intake to increased blood pressure. And conversely, a sufficient intake of potassium (between 4 and 5 g / day), prevents and fights against hypertension. This helps limit the risk of cardiovascular disease such as myocardial infarction and stroke.

A meta-analysis carried out by WHO researchers confirms previous studies: high consumption of potassium lowers blood pressure in people with hypertension, which reduces the risk of infarction and d 'Stroke.

An effort food

For athletes, bananas are particularly suitable for their richness in carbohydrates, group B vitamins, potassium and magnesium (important for good muscle work).

It contains, in fact, enough B vitamins to allow the proper use of its carbohydrates. This is appreciable for a predominantly carbohydrate food.

The energy intake of bananas (about 90 kcal per 100 g, or 376 kJ) is mainly due to its carbohydrates, which provide more than 90% of the total energy. These carbohydrates consist, before maturation, of starch, which gradually disappears, to make way for soluble sugars quickly assimilated by muscle cells (diosides, then fructose and glucose), as well as mucilaginous substances in the last stages of evolution of the fruit.

Thus, bananas provide all the energy necessary for all physical and intellectual activity. It is then regenerative, thanks to sugars which can be assimilated in less than two hours by the muscles of the body, thus accelerating recovery after exercise.

It is therefore an excellent snack for athletes, students and children. It can thus improve the breakfast of schoolchildren who lack appetite (a banana provides, depending on the size, as much energy as 30 to 45 g of bread).

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