• Bananas

    The Benefits of Eating Bananas

    The banana has become a favourite the world over, and the most popular consumed fruit in America, beating apples and oranges combined.
    Once native to South East Asia, but now grown in more that 107 countries this creamy sweet fruit packs an antioxidant punch. Despite popular belief bananas are classed as a berry and are grown on an arborescent (tree like) perennial herb, not a tree; there is some suggestion that the humble banana maybe one of the worlds oldest fruits, dating back to 8000 B.C.

    The banana industry is worth a staggering $44.1 billion annually, which includes $8.9 billion a year in export and is considered the fourth most valuable global crop. Nearly nine-tenths of the worlds bananas are eaten in poor countries, where at least four hundred million people rely on their calories.

    The original export banana crop was a cultivar called Gros Michel, but this variety became extinct as a result of a widespread fungus. Ninety-nine percent of the bananas eaten in the world today are from a cultivar called Cavendish, shockingly, this variety is now at risk of extinction from a vicious soil borne fungus known as Tropical Race 4 strain of Panama disease.

    Heart health
    A study conducted by the Hypertension Institute found that people who consumed 4069mg of potassium per day had a 49% lower risk of dying from ischaemic heart disease, when compared to those people who ate an estimated 1000mg per day. With this in mind a medium sized banana has around 450mg of potassium.
    In addition, bananas are known to assist in lowering blood pressure and may prevent atherosclerosis, this is due to the low sodium and high potassium content. Potassium is an important nutrient in promoting vasodilation, which helps to lower blood pressure and thereby reducing the risk of having a stroke.


    A study by the Imperial College of London found that children who consumed one banana daily had a 34% less chance of developing asthmatic symptoms.


    Bananas are a delicious source of vitamin c, a powerful antioxidant which helps to combat the formation of free radicals. Studies have suggested that bananas can reduce cancer cell proliferation by about 40%, although apples and cranberries have been shown to be more potent.
    The high fibre content has also been shown to be beneficial in keeping the bowels regular and thereby helping to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

    Boost your mood
    Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid which is a key ingredient in making serotonin, which is known to have a positive effect on mood, memory and sociability.
    Additionally, with the aid of magnesium helping to relax muscles and the calming influence of tryptophan bananas make an ideal snack before bedtime and may help to promote a more restful sleep.

    Cardiovascular benefits
    Bananas contain small amounts of sterols, such as sitosterol, campesterol and stigmasterol. These plant sterols are structurally similar to cholesterol and therefore can aid in blocking the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Thus keeping our blood cholesterol levels down and helping to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.

    Digestive Health
    Bananas are a good source of dietary fibre, which leads to a regulation of our digestive system. Pectin within the fibre increases as the banana ripens, this is also true for the fructose concentration. Collectively these help to normalise the role of carbohydrate digestion and therefore controls the impact on blood sugar.

    Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) is a fructose-containing carbohydrate that is metabolised by bacteria in the lower intestine. This helps to maintain the friendly bacteria and support our overall digestive health.

    So what is the nutrient content of a Banana?

    A quick look at some of the vitamins and minerals and the role they play in our health.

    Pyridoxine -
    Vitamin B6
    - Protects the immune sysytem
    - Maintains a healthy metabolism
    - Helps to produce energy from food
    - Promotes healthy hormones
    - Maintains healthy cells
    - Assists in the absorption of vitamin B12
    - Improves neurological function
    - Promotes healthy brain development
    - Reduces premenstrual symptoms
    - Helps to prevent atherosclerosis and heart disease.

    Manganese - Mineral

    - Supports the formation of healthy bones through absorption of calcium
    - Supports collagen production
    - Helps with blood sugar control
    - Contributes to the prevention of oxygen related damage from ultra violet light (UV)
    - Antioxidant
    - Maintains a healthy functioning thyroid gland
    - Promotes metabolism of fats and carbohydrates
    - Diets low in manganese have been linked to skin problems and asthma

    Vitamin C
    - Supports the immune system
    - Increases iron absorption
    - Protects cells from oxidating damage
    - Helps reduce the risk of heart disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke.
    - helps in the formation of collagen , carnitine and catecholemines.

    Riboflavin -
    Vitamin B2
    - Helps to produce energy from food
    - Antioxidant
    - Helps to metabolise fats and protein
    - Assists in the proper functioning of the nervous system
    - Helps to synthesise vitamins B6 and folate
    - Improves eye health

    Copper - Mineral
    - Helps to maintain blood volume
    - Produces energy in your cells from carbohydrates
    - Supports the building of strong tissue, including hair and nails
    - Involved in the manufacturing of collagen
    - Helps to maintain a healthy balance of cholesterol
    - Assists in the prevention of premature ageing.

    Magnesium - Mineral

    - Helps protein synthesis
    - Supports the nervous system
    - Improves cellular metabolism
    - Regulates heart rhythm
    - Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
    - Reduces eclamptic seizures
    - Helps with muscle relaxation
    - Assists with bone and teeth formation
    - Regulates the body's use of calcium and other minerals
    - Helps maintain structural health of cell membranes
    - Reduces the risk of type two diabetes
    - Reduces the symptoms of asthma.
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