If you're reading this article, it's apparent you're trying to improve your health. That's great.
Bananas, in short, are an amazing source of potassium, fiber, and many of the vitamins you need to consume daily.
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No, they aren't fattening. No, they don't have "too much sugar."
Yes, you can eat them and lose weight.
Bananas are easy to eat on the go, they come in biodegradable packaging, and they are really cheap. They provide great energy and have even been considered to be a cheaper (and less artificially colored) Gatorade.
Bananas Are Full of Potassium
Bananas are well-known for their high potassium content. Potassium supports a healthy blood pressure, helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and keeps our bones strong and our muscles stronger.
Most Americans don't get enough potassium in their diets. It's been shown that those who consume more potassium have a lower risk of stroke.
Eating a medium-sized banana contains 422mg of potassium. This is 12% of your daily total that the FDA recommends.
Fewer than 2% of the US population consumes enough potassium.
Are you potassium deficient? Deficiency can lead to fatigue, constipation, and weakness. If prolonged deficient conditions persist, paralysis, respiratory failure, and painful gut obstructions can occur.
While there are plenty of potassium supplements on the market, dietary sources are the better choice.
Other Foods High in Potassium
- Beet Greens
- White Beans
- Soy Beans
- Lime Beans
- Sweet Potato
Please note, having too much potassium in the blood is called Hyperkalemia and it can also negatively impact your health.
Nutritional Facts of a Large Banana
Eating a large banana will take about 121 calories out of your calorie budget. For a 2000 calorie diet, this is only 6%.
Enjoy 3.5 grams of dietary fiber which helps keep you regular and prolongs the feelings of satiety. While the total carbohydrates are 31 grams, with 17 grams of sugars.
They have no cholesterol, 1 mg of sodium and 0.4 grams of total fat.
One large sliced up banana is equal to one serving of your recommended 2 cups of fruit per day.
Nutritional Facts of a Medium Banana
A medium-sized banana comes in at around 105 calories. There are about 27 grams of carbohydrates - of which 3.1 grams come from fiber.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that women aged 19-50 should get at least 25 grams of fiber per day, while men aged 14-50 need 38 grams.
Simply eating 1 medium banana will cover 12% of your daily fiber needs.
Nutritional Facts of a Small Banana
If you're looking to save a few calories, a small banana comes in at around 90 calories. They also contain 1 gram of protein, 2.6 grams of fiber, and 23 grams of carbohydrates.
They contain 362mg of potassium, which helps maintain our fluid balance in our bodies. There's a good chance when you start retaining water that you are deficient in potassium.
Other Benefits of Bananas
Bananas are sweet, they are easy, and they are super cheap... So are McFlurries. Choosing bananas as your "sweet treat" boosts your immune system, supports a healthy lifestyle, and gets rid of the highly-processed refined sugars.
Bananas are a great post-workout snack and are easy to add to your diet. More on that below.
Eating a large banana gives around 10% of your daily potassium needs.
Have high blood pressure? The potassium in a banana combined with a reduced sodium diet can help control or lower your blood pressure.
Lastly, a large banana has almost 0.5mg of vitamin B6. This is 38% of your daily requirement. B6 is important to maintaining a healthy immune system, keeps your brain running at full capacity, and improves the formation of your red blood cells.
Easy Ways to Add Bananas to Your Diet
If you're not into eating a banana on the go, there are many other ways you can easily add bananas to your diet.
Gut health is important to a healthy lifestyle.
Try 1/2 of a frozen banana, 1/2 cup of frozen pineapple, the juice of half of a lime, and one cup coconut water for a smoothie recipe. It's light, refreshing, and great for you.
Like pancakes but don't want the waistline?
Combine two large eggs with 1 ripe banana. Cook them as you would your precious flapjacks.
Since bananas are starchy, they can easily substitute flour.
Instead of springing for sugar or honey, slice a banana and fold it into your favorite oatmeal.
I'm not fond of eating oatmeal when it's hot, so placing cold or nearly frozen bananas into my oatmeal cools it off quicker and tastes great.
Spend an hour while you are meal prepping for the week to make some fruit kebabs.
One of my favorite sweet-treat replacements are kebabs with bananas, kiwi, strawberries, grapes, and raspberries.
They are loaded with potassium, vitamins, and flavor.
Put on Cereal
While sugary highly-processed cereals are not the best for you to eat, try cutting up a banana and putting it on your cereal.
Instead of catching a sugar crash and needing a snack before lunch, the bananas will make you feel fuller longer. Have a spoonful of peanut butter to help with the insulin spike from all of that sugar.
Put on Your Yogurt
Mixing in fresh fruit in your yogurt is an easy way to get more beneficial vitamins and nutrients.
Make Nice Cream
Something I've not made yet is something called Nice Cream.
Blend 2 diced, frozen bananas and a tablespoon of coconut oil until you reach the smooth and creamy consistency as soft-serve ice cream.
Fold any extras in - cherries, fruit, walnuts - and freeze for about 15 minutes.
Create a Healthy Lifestyle
Remember, the sugar in fruit is different than the highly-processed refined sugars in unhealthy foods - you simply can't compare the sugar in a chocolate covered doughnut to the sugar in a banana.
Whole, nutritious foods always trump highly-processed crap.
Making reasonable food choices and enjoying foods in moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Get up and moving, lift some weights, and enjoy life.