6 Good Reasons to Love Bananas - And 9 Amazing Ways to Enjoy Them!
The other morning as I was enjoying my morning banana, a co-worker stopped me. In a state of apparent disbelief, she asked why I, a registered dietitian, was eating such a sugar filled fruit – one that was apparently bad for me. While it is true that bananas contain natural sugars, they also come packed with nutrients offering more health benefits than you may be aware of.
#1 Your Heart
A study of 10,000 American adults and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that a diet high in fiber-rich foods, such as bananas, helps prevent heart disease. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium providing around 400 mg! According to the National Academy of Sciences, diets rich in potassium and low in sodium may help to reduce your risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
#2 Your Kidneys
As high blood pressure can increase your risk of kidney disease, bananas may be a great addition to your diet if you are at risk. A study from the International Journal of Cancer indicates that diets rich in whole fruits and vegetables, especially bananas, can help protect against this disease.
#3 Your Bones
The very mineral found to help lower blood pressure may also aid bone health. High salt diets can increase calcium loss, yet because potassium and sodium tend to balance one another out in our bodies, potassium helps counteract this loss thereby reducing bone loss.
#4 Your Digestive Health
Bananas aid our digestive system in several ways, making them a sure go-to when you feel indigestion coming on.
- Bananas contain around 3 grams of fiber, great for boosting satiety and maintaining regularity. In fact, bananas are a classic recommendation for those experiencing diarrhea as the soluble fiber aids in bulking up the stool and it is fairly easy to digest if you have an upset stomach.
- I must also mention that digestive woes are a quick way to create electrolyte imbalance, yet another reason bananas are a great choice as they contain an electrolyte commonly lacking in the American diet: potassium.
- Bananas are able to help our bodies boost its defenses against stomach acid, reducing our risk of ulcers. Rather than popping an antacid every time you feel heartburn erupting, grab a banana – Mother Nature’s own antacid – and protect your digestive tract from the damaging and painful effects of ulcers.
#5 Your Mood
Much like the more famous source of tryptophan, bananas contain the very protein found in turkey. Our bodies are able to convert tryptophan into serotonin, a neurotransmitter known to help us relax and perhaps even lift our mood. In addition, this yellow fruit provides roughly one-third of your daily Vitamin B6 needs, a nutrient found to help calm our nerves.
#6 Your Waistline
Although my co-worker previously feared the effect of bananas on her waistline, I can reassure you that this fruit is a great addition to a healthy diet. In fact, bananas can even be used to help trim the fat from your diet!
- Banana puree is a great substitute for shortening when you are baking, as is puree from zucchinis, beans, or avocado.
- You may have tried banana bread, a peanut butter and banana sandwich, or even banana slices drizzled with chocolate syrup, but what about banana ice-cream? This frozen novelty is made from a single ingredient: banana. Rather than tossing your aging bananas, toss them into the freezer and once frozen you simply whip it up in the blender and enjoy. It is absolutely delicious! For those of you hoping for a bit more flavor, try adding a tablespoon of peanut butter, honey, or cocoa powder. I promise you will enjoy experimenting with Mother Nature’s own fat-free nutrient-rich ice-cream.
For those of you who have eliminated bananas from your diet for fear of gaining weight, have no fear. This fat-free treat is rich in natural energy, minerals, vitamins, fiber and phytonutrients.
Healthy Banana Recipes
Naturally Ella: Baked Banana Chips
"I realized the ridiculous amount of sugar (and sometimes high fructose corn syrup) they had in them. So, I gave up eating banana chips and move onto other things. That is until I saw a recipe from A Sweet Road. I was so excited that I made them the very same day." RECIPE
Lovin' From the Oven: Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread
"This… is the most amazing banana bread. It’s very flavorful and moist with a bit of a slight crunch from the topping. If you’re a fan of cinnamon sugar, I’d highly recommend it! I already made it twice in a week." RECIPE
The Healthy Family and Home: Raw, Vegan Banana Hemp Seed "Sushi Slices"
" These Raw Vegan Banana Hemp Seed Sushi Slices are going to be one of the easiest snacks you’ll probably ever make. It’s also one of my boys favorite snacks. They are just so darn cute too! You can make them in a matter of minutes and they provide lots of nutrition and energy in a bite-sized snack. They contain 11 g of raw vegan protein, 25% DV of zinc, 50% DV of magnesium, 50% DV of phosphorus and 15% DV of iron." RECIPE
84th and 3rd: Raw, Vegan, Gluten-Free Macadamia & Coconut Banana Cream Pie
"This creamy pie is entirely dairy, soy, gluten and refined sugar free, but stunningly delicious. It is banana cream in its simplest form but you could certainly add chocolate, berries or even passionfruit for a fun twist." RECIPE
Inspired Taste; Simple Banana Smoothie
"All you need is five minutes and five ingredients to make our silky smooth and simple banana smoothie recipe. This is just perfect for breakfast, an afternoon snack or for serving kids. You can even make this ahead of time, freeze it and save for later. So easy! We add half of an orange, a little yogurt, water (or milk) and a touch of honey. Just add everything to a blender, blend until smooth and enjoy." RECIPE
Laylita: Eucadoran- Style "Chifles"
"Either way chifles are delicious when made fresh, it is very typical to have people selling them in small paper bags right outside of schools and different events, the chips are usually drizzled with a salsa rosada...Chifles are also a great side dish for ceviches, as well as an appetizer that goes very well with tomato and onion curtido o r aji criollo hot sauce and cold beer....green bananas are very sticky and not as easy to handle, so overall chifles or chips made with green plantains are easier to find and make, but if you do ever find some very green bananas try it and you will taste the difference. If you become a chifle fan and want to try different variations, you can add hot peppers or garlic to the oil to infuse that flavor into the chips." RECIPE
Lavendilly: Raw, Vegan, Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies
"To make this recipe raw the cookies are ‘cooked’ in the dehydrator. They were done after one day and one night, at 70 degrees C, turning them halfway. They can also be baked in the oven for more immediate consumption! The benefits to dehydrating them means they preserve more nutrients and are more evenly dried out, whereas when you bake them they are still a little squishy in the middle, but equally yummy. " RECIPE
Ambitious Kitchen: Banana "Ice Cream" with Toasted Coconut, Almonds, & Dark Chocolate
"Almond joys are great examples: coconut, almonds, and dark chocolate. I mean, it’s kind of just simple perfection. Or perfect enough for me to want to put the ingredients on top of my ice cream anyway... All you need is a couple of frozen bananas and a food processor (or a blender). Once the frozen banana are processed, they turn into a creamy treat that mimicks your favorite soft serve! Make sure you use ripe bananas to ensure sweetness and an irresistable texture. You’ll be surprised by this one." RECIPE
And of course, the classic - Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich!