Health Benefits of Bananas

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Bunch of Bananas

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Many people who consume bananas everyday may not be aware of their health benefits but dieticians agree that they provide a rich source of minerals and vitamins which the body needs for proper functioning

By Chinwe Okafor  |  Sep. 8, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

BANANA is one of the fruits people consume everyday without knowing its health benefits. Investigations by Realnews have revealed that regular consumption of banana maintains normal blood pressure and good heart function. Yemisi Olowookere, a dietician at the Garki Hospital, Abuja, said consumption of banana “is ideal because bananas are the best source of potassium which is an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function.”

According to her, a medium-sized banana provides 350g of potassium, which helps the body to maintain normal fluid and electrolyte balances in the cells. “Bananas help to restore normal bowel activity; they are rich in non-digestible fibres, help with constipation and diarrhoea and normalise colon’s function to absorb large amounts of water for regular bowel movements. Bananas have long been recognised for their antacid effects in protecting the stomach walls against ulcers and ulcer-damage as well as help to neutralise acidity, a great way to get rid of heart burn,” she said.

Besides, Olowookere said, bananas are a perfect baby food and are the best solid food to introduce to infants adding that “a mashed ripe banana is an extremely simple and healthy baby food.” She, however, explained that bananas were easy to digest and rarely cause allergic reactions and could be recommended for children recovering from gastrointestinal problems, particularly diarrhea adding that the dietary fibre component in banana pulp has cholesterol-lowering effect and also promotes an overall improvement of the functional efficiency of kidneys.

Ngozi Odum, another dietician in Enugu State, said that the kidneys also derive certain benefits from bananas because they have high potassium content present in it. According to her, a normal intake of potassium suppresses calcium excretion in the urine and minimises the effect of kidney stone. She said “this tropical fruit has no enemy as a result of its nutritional values because it is not only delicious but is also affordable and available throughout the year.”

Odum said that unlike other fruits that are acidic, banana is consumed for its taste, texture and a feeling of fullness.  Investigations have revealed that pregnant mothers whose blood pressures are high, should eat enough bananas because they are good sources of potassium and magnesium which aid in maintaining normal blood pressure and are heart-protective. The high potassium content promotes bone health too. Banana helps counteract the urinary calcium loss caused due to increase on potassium levels in the urine and also have an antacid effect.

According to Uche Ogbanufe, a dietician in Kogi State,  bananas are also known to stimulate cell proliferation which thickens the stomach mucosa and also acts as a barrier against stomach acids. Banana is rich in soluble fibre known as pectin because it assists healthy digestion and eases out constipation and is also a rich source of fructooligosaccharides, which acts as a pre-biotic and stimulates the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestine.

According to her, fructooligosaccharides also produce digestive enzymes which improve the ability to absorb nutrients. She said banana also contains short chain-fatty acids which are essentially needed by the cells lining the intestinal tract to stay healthy and this further improves the nutrient absorption. “Bananas are also one of the ideal foods to be eaten immediately after a strenuous workout,” she said.

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