They are more than just a pretty decoration on your counter – bananas are loaded with health-promoting properties and are an excellent addition to a well-balanced diet.
This versatile fruit has been found to combat a hangover, battle depression, boost brain power, protect against kidney cancer, reduce the risk of osteoporosis and blindness and normalize heart function. The peel of this remarkable fruit can even take the sting out of mosquito bites, fertilize garden plants, reduce dry skin and feed your roses.
Bananas are easy to add to any meal of the day and even organic bananas, which we recommend, will not break your bank. We took a little deeper look at some of the health promoting benefits of this tasty and useful fruit and here is what we found:
Reduce Symptoms of Depression
Depression is a very serious matter, and millions of Americans suffer from it. Some who are depressed live without help, alone and isolated, while others become dependent on pharmaceuticals that may have dangerous side-effects.
There have been great advances in the study of nutrition and how it relates to mood, hormones and feelings of happiness or worth. Director of of Nutrition at Duke University’s Duke Integrative Medicine says that when we are feeling blue we often reach for foods that we think will make us feel better.
Unfortunately, these foods can cause physiological reactions that only makes the symptoms of depression worse, such as lethargy, irritability and cravings. Eating the right foods can stabilize blood sugar and eliminate mood swings while boosting the neurotransmitters in the brain, all things that influence how depression makes you feel. One so-called “happy” food is the banana.
Bananas contain the amino acid tryptophan that helps the body make serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that regulates mood. Bananas also provide vitamin B6 which, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is also needed for the body to make serotonin from tryptophan. Not to mention the fact that a lack of vitamin B6 increases the risk of developing depression.
Additionally, bananas have been found to be an effective tool against insomnia, a common symptom of depression. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that foods containing tryptophan can help a person fall asleep more easily. Eating a banana before going to bed may help those who suffer from insomnia get a good night’s rest.
Replace Sports Drinks
If you are an avid exerciser and routinely work out for periods of longer than an hour, then gulping down a Gatorade or Powerade might seem like a good option for you. These drinks contain sugar, sodium and potassium.
While these can help your body replenish needed nutrients that are lost while you are exercising and sweating, the most natural way to rehydrate is naturally through water, coconut water, fruits and vegetables. Yes, it is true that your body actually needs to replenish sugar, but studies show that consuming natural fruit sugar is the better option.
If you are a more casual exerciser or are simply drinking sports drinks because you think they are healthy, you may be surprised to discover that the added calories and sodium actually counteract any benefits you get from drinking them. For a sedentary person, sports drinks are just as bad for you as soda.
Good news for banana lovers. Research indicates that bananas are an excellent source of energy and a favorable replacement to processed sports drinks. In one study, cyclists consumed one cup of carbohydrate (sugar) drink or ate half of a banana every 15 minutes that they cycled in a 75-kilometer road race that lasted between 2.5 and 3 hours.
Results of blood samples showed that not only was performance the same whether the sports drink was consumed or the banana but there were also additional benefits to consuming the bananas.
To start with, bananas are high in antioxidants that are not found in sports drinks and also contain fiber, potassium and vitamin B6. Bananas are also a healthier blend of real sugars vs sports drinks that are loaded with refined sugar.
Study leaders note that the results of this experiment are applicable to any type of exercise and fitness enthusiast. If you are doing a short workout – eat a banana just before you start. For longer workouts – eat bananas throughout your workout to keep your energy up.
Bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral electrolyte that helps to support normal heart function. Potassium enters into the bloodstream through intestinal walls where it is delivered to cells throughout the body. It travels across cell membranes where it is needed to keep the fluid in and around the cell balanced.
This keeps electricity flowing which is necessary for the heart to beat. People with severe potassium deficiency often have an irregular heartbeat, which can be fatal. The linus Pauling Institute recommends 4,700 milligrams of potassium each day. A 6-inch piece of banana provides more than 360 milligrams of this daily requirement.
-The Alternative Daily