The banana is one of the most nutritious and tasty fruits, loved by young and old for its soft texture and particularly sweet flavour. A practical, “portable” snack, it gives precious energy to those who choose it.
Banana is rich in potassium, vitamins and mineral salts. Furthermore, it brings great benefits to the body: it fights cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, regulates the intestine and helps mood.
In fact, bananas contain a lot of potassium, which is useful for eliminating liquids, limiting water retention and controlling high blood pressure, thus promoting the good functionality of the cardiovascular system. In collaboration with magnesium, these fruits help against cramps and are also ideal for those who exercise. Bananas then have a calming effect on acidity and heartburn and its fibers better manage intestinal irregularity, hindering constipation.
Normally the banana is eaten fresh, natural. But it is also excellent blended with milk or other fruit to create tasty and nutritious smoothies, chopped into yoghurt, cut into fruit salads, in the form of ice cream. It can also be used to garnish various cakes and desserts or as an ingredient for desserts such as banana bread.
Banana – what is it
The name “banana” refers to the fruit of the plant, commonly called Banana (Musa acuminata Colla), which is not a tree despite having the same dimensions. It is a perennial evergreen giant herbaceous plant, monocotyledonous, belonging to the genus Musa of the Musaceae family.
The banana tree grows from a bulb-tuber from which a false trunk develops which reaches heights of up to 6 metres. The trunk is formed by the basal sheaths of spirally overlapping leaves curled up on top of each other, mimicking the support functions of a trunk. This is then crowned at the apex by a tuft of a few leaves.
The banana bears fruit only in warm and humid climates of tropical valleys, located in full sun or light shade. The plant can live in mild climates, but almost never bears abundant and well-formed fruit. The banana tree also needs a habitat that is protected from the winds.
Among the many unique qualities and benefits, bananas also have another great record: they are the most consumed fruit in the world. This is because they combine taste with properties, while also providing an excellent general amount of energy.
If you are interested in the topic, discover our in-depth study: Are bananas fattening?
The nutritional values of the banana
|Available carbohydrates (g)||15.4|
|Dietary Fiber (g)||1.8|
Source: Food Composition Database for Epidemiological Studies in America and CREA Research Center for Food and Nutrition.
In addition to its great versatility and unique taste, it is a fruit rich in phytonutrients, including vitamins (C, A and B vitamins) and phenolic compounds.
It also contains many minerals such as manganese, potassium, copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorus. Incorporating bananas into your diet also helps improve the total dietary fiber, resistant starch, and total starch content.
Values per 100 grams
|Tiamina – B1 (mg)||0.06|
|Riboflavin – B2 (mg)||0.06|
|Niacin – B3 (mg)||0.70|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.29|
|Total folate (µg)||14|
|Vitamin C (mg)||16|
|Vitamin E (mg)||0.27|
|Vitamin A (µg)||45|
|Vitamin K (µg)||0.50|
Flavonols and flavonoids
Both the pulp and the banana peel contain various phenolic and flavonoid compounds.
Just to mention a few:
- Gallic acid.
The major classes of flavonoids found in bananas are the flavonols, which include quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol, and cyanidin. These act as protective “scavengers” against free radicals, responsible for aging and various chronic diseases.
Serotonin and dopamine
Banana peel and pulp also contain biogenic amines, such as:
Serotonin contributes to the feeling of well-being and happiness while dopamine plays an important role in improving mood, the ability to concentrate and emotional stability.
Other compounds characterizing bananas are carotenoids, also responsible for their intense yellow color. Carotenoids have been studied primarily for their role in the prevention of certain cancers and eye diseases.
The idea of using different banana cultivars to manage vitamin A deficiency has recently been proposed.
Consuming foods rich in carotenoids, and therefore indirectly in vitamin A, improves immunity and reduces the risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart problems.
So let’s see all the beneficial properties that these nutrients give to bananas.
Antioxidant and anticancer
Banana pulp contains bioactive compounds, such as phenolic acids and flavonoids, with high antioxidant potential and useful in the prevention of chronic diseases, including cancer.
The banana against cramps and to control blood pressure
Bananas contain a lot of potassium: perfect allies, therefore, for athletes to avoid cramps during training or during performance.
Furthermore, the important presence of potassium, together with the low sodium content, makes bananas useful in controlling blood pressure.
Serotonin, derived from tryptophan contained in bananas, helps overcome or prevent depression by positively influencing mood and relaxing the body.
Fruit suitable for diabetics
Bananas contain low digestibility resistant starch compared to the high glycemic index starches of cereals. Thanks to its hypoglycaemic action, it is therefore suitable for the diet of diabetic patients. Indeed, its daily consumption improves insulin sensitivity.
Great for intestines and stomach
The banana also has positive effects on the intestine: pharmacological investigations have shown that the banana is effective and beneficial in the treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.
Bananas contain a good amount of phytosterols. They are natural plant sterols that lower blood cholesterol levels by reducing its absorption in the intestine.
Thus, a daily intake of phytosterols, up to 3 g/day, is safe and has a hypocholesterolemic action in patients with dyslipidemia.
The banana: an aid to quit smoking
According to a recent scientific study, bananas, thanks to their content of vitamins B6, potassium and magnesium, would help the body recover from the effects of “withdrawal” from nicotine.
Bananas can therefore make the journey easier for those people who have decided to quit smoking.
Against ulcers and heartburn
A banana would help to recover from a hangover (helps restore blood sugar levels, depleted due to alcohol intake), buffer heartburn and heal ulcers (bananas have a natural antacid effect) .
When we experience a moment of stress, the basal metabolic rate increases, thus reducing our potassium levels. Thus, the consumption of bananas high in this mineral can help “recover” us from these destabilizing events.
Against mosquito bites
Did a mosquito bite you? To relieve itching and reduce swelling and irritation, just rub the inside of the banana peel on the affected area.
Does banana increase constipation, truth or false myth?
Here’s what you need to know: that banana increases constipation is a false myth.
The banana is in fact rich in fibers and these have the ability to accelerate intestinal transit and relieve the symptoms of constipation. Soluble fibers dissolve in water and can create a gel 100 times their weight.
For this reason they have the ability to soften stools and improve their consistency. Insoluble fibers, on the other hand, have the quality of retaining large quantities of water, increasing the mass of the faeces and stimulating peristalsis.
Green bananas, in particular, are higher in fiber and starch and help improve intestinal health. They are therefore definitely indicated in case of constipation.
We can therefore conclude by saying that the banana does not increase constipation, on the contrary, tasting it favors peristalsis and intestinal motility.
Curiosity about the benefits of banana
Banana plants and their fruit have traditionally been used to cure many diseases, especially in Asia and Africa.
In tribal communities all parts of the plant are used (fruit, stem, flower, leaf, sap, stem, inner core and root) for therapeutic preparations useful for combating numerous pathologies:
- Blood pressure control.
- Infections, bronchitis and other respiratory diseases, as well as fever, cough.
The root extract is still used today to prevent conception, to induce labor during childbirth and to treat infections of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, internal and external sores of the genitals, vaginitis and leucorrhoea. .
Other traditional uses include application as an antiemetic, for dressing wounds and blisters, and for relieving joint pain and improving blood circulation.