Bananas are not my favorite fruit. Far from it. Like most of the things I dislike, it’s a texture thing. But I’ve slowly been developing a taste for them after adding them to my daily breakfast menu. (They’re great in yogurt – it coats them so the texture isn’t as noticeable.) But why eat something I dislike so much? It’s because they’re packed full of nutrients like iron and potassium, which not only give you energy, but the latter aids in fluid retention, both of which are crucial when working outside in the heat. So bananas are my new breakfast buddies.
It’s actually surprising to see the long list of health benefits bananas carry inside that rubbery peel. And that peel, by the way, is pretty useful too. They make wonderful additions to compost, and they’re especially good fertilizer for roses. You can also rub the peel on a pimple or mosquito bite to alleviate the symptoms. Funny story: an elderly customer once told me that the peels help to fade age spots on skin, so one day she rubbed her face and arms down with them. She didn’t think about the fact that bananas quickly turn brown, and walked around the mall covered in what looked like poo. Haha!
Since there is literally a list of banana-flavored perks in this sunny fruit, I’m going to list them for you:
-Bananas are great for stress relief. They contain tryptophan, the amino acid building block of serotonin, the good mood molecule. They have about 450 mg of potassium, which helps balance both heartbeat and the body’s water levels during periods of high stress. (Potassium also helps relieve menstrual cramps, which is also great for stress relief.) They are also high in B vitamins, and B vitamin deficiency, especially B6 and B12, often leads to depression. B vitamins also support metabolism, hair and skin health, immune system function, and the nervous system, among other things.
-Bananas are a good source of iron, which aids in hemoglobin production. This helps prevent anemia.
-One banana contains around 5 grams of dietary fiber, as well as the fiber pectin, and we all know what fiber does! Along with aiding in digestion, fiber helps maintain regular bowel function, so bananas are a great fix for constipation. If you have the opposite problem, the high levels of electrolytes found in bananas (including potassium) can help restore your electrolytes after a bout of diarrhea.
-Daily consumption of fruits and vegetables is necessary for good health, especially kidney health. Bananas, cabbage, and root vegetables are extremely helpful in the prevention of kidney cancer; bananas and many root vegetables are extra rich in antioxidants, and cabbage is rich in sulfur, which aids in detoxification.
-Potassium is an excellent dietary way to reduce blood pressure, thus reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
-Potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins are essential nutrients for anyone attempting to quit smoking, for they help the body recover from nicotine withdrawal and can reduce withdrawal symptoms. So eat a banana instead of smoking a cigarette – good snacking will help keep off that quitting weight, too.
-Bananas are also helpful for those suffering from ulcers. They reduce stomach acidity and irritation by stimulating digestive cells to produce more mucus. They also contain protease inhibitors, molecules that help block the bacteria in your gut normally associated with ulcer formation. They’re therefore great heartburn relievers, too.
Who knew those pretty little fruit were chock full of so much goodness? And the great part is, their skin is so thick, most pesticides don’t make it past the peel, so don’t fret if organic bananas aren’t available near you. Aside from adding them to my morning yogurt, I’m going to start looking up some recipes for bananas. My first banana cooking experience is going to be empanadas, I think. I’ll keep you posted. Happy eating!