Bananas are nature’s version of lollies: they’re so naturally sweet that they make anything you pair them with taste like dessert, albeit a much healthier version of it.
When you consider the versatility, portability, affordability, and tastiness of the humble banana, it’s not exactly shocking to see that global production of the tropical fruit is at an all-time high. In fact, bananas are the most exported fresh fruit in the world.
But are bananas good for you?
Even with its unwavering popularity, some still avoid bananas because they're higher in carbs and sugar than many other fruits. But here's the thing: it's easy to forget that your body actually needs carbs to fuel your body, and unlike processed sweet treats, a banana's naturally occurring sugars are accompanied by many vitamins and minerals. Plus, bananas are also rich in fibre, which slows your digestion of sugar, not to mention helps keep you feeling full.
So, are bananas healthy? You bet!
BANANA NUTRITION FACTS: 439kJ1(105cal), 1 g protein, <1 g fat, 26 g carbs (3 g fibre), 14 g sugar in 1 medium
10 science-backed health benefits of bananas
Bananas are packed with potassium
One medium banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium, or about 12 percent of your daily value of the mineral.
Your body needs plenty of potassium to operate normally. This electrolyte helps your muscles contract, nerves function, move nutrients into cells (and waste out of them), regulate your heartbeat, and regulate sodium in your body. So when you don’t get enough potassium, your blood pressure and kidney stone risk can increase, you may feel weak and tired, or even experience muscle cramps. (Here are other foods high in potassium.)
Bananas are rich in vitamin B6
While vitamin B6 doesn’t see the spotlight all that often, it’s an essential vitamin for a reason. Bananas contain nearly one third of your daily value of vitamin B6, which is important for brain development during pregnancy and enzyme reactions involved in metabolism. Most people don’t seem to fall short on their intake, but it doesn’t hurt to eat foods that are naturally rich in the nutrient.
Bananas might keep your appetite in check
No one food will take away the hanger after skipping a meal. However, eating a banana as part of a well-balanced diet may help curb your cravings. Bananas contain a type of fibre called resistant starch, which seems to help people eat fewer kilojoules and manage their appetite, studies show. While more research needs to be done to understand the link, one medium banana only packs about 418kJ (100cal) and is super satisfying due to its fibre content, so need to feel guilty about adding one to your breakfast smoothie, peanut butter sandwich, or post-dinner yoghurt parfait.
Bananas keep your kidneys healthy
A banana a day may keep the doctor away. In a study of 61,000 Swedish women, researchers found that people who ate lots of fruits and vegetables-more than 75 servings per month, or roughly 3 servings total per day-had the lowest risk of developing renal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer.
When researchers looked at fruits specifically, bananas seemed to have the most pronounced effect due to their high concentration of phenolics, compounds with antioxidant effects.
Another large study of more than 90,000 women also found that women who consumed more than 4,099 milligrams of potassium daily had a 35 percent lower risk of kidney stones than women who downed less than 2,407 mg. That’s because potassium can also help your body get rid of excess calcium, a building block of the most common type of kidney stone.