Boosting Brain Function With Bananas

  • Claudia Mohanathas BSc in Biomedical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London
  • Olga Gabriel Master's degree, Forensic Science, Uppsala University, Sweden

Brief overview of the importance of brain function

Even though the human brain is the control centre of our bodies, it may seem rather challenging at first to fathom the intricate roads that bridge the physical aspect of our brain with the rather abstract perception of following our thoughts and actions. Every move you make and every step you take, your brain will be leading you. Nonetheless, overseeing virtually the entirety of human physiology might overwhelm the brain, which is believed to consume over 20% of the basal energy used by the human body. This energy is paramount to maintaining fundamental brain functions and overall health.  

The ”simple” process of using your brain is named cognition, one of the most important features of this fascinating organ. Cognitive functions, executed by the human brain, are elaborate processes that govern our language, attention, memory, and even sharper abilities like problem-solving and decision-making. In this article, we will explore the intersection between the energy supply for the brain and how this organ makes the best use of it. So, how can you boost brain function through dietary choices? Literally, food for thought.

The role of nutrition in cognitive health

Nutrition is an often-overlooked aspect that plays a key role in brain health and vitality. Essential nutrients generously provided by adequate nutrition are crucial for optimal brain function and cognitive health. In this matter, we delve into the intersection between nutrition and cognition, highlighting the role of bananas in enhancing brain function.

Bananas are accessible and delicious fruits packed with macro and micronutrients that

heavily support brain function. Comprehending the extension of this set of nutrients allows an understanding of how they work as energy boosters and building blocks for the human brain to operate optimally.  

Nutritional components of bananas

In the table below, we can take a better look at the nutritional content of bananas and their functions.

Table 1: Nutritional Components of Bananas

Nutritional component of bananasPhysiological function
Dietary fiberDigestion and blood sugar regulation
PotassiumNerve and muscle function
Vitamin CAntioxidant support
Vitamin B6Neurotransmitter production

How bananas contribute to brain health

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in sustaining and enhancing cognitive function throughout life. Adequate and healthy dietary choices might collectively shape our capacity to think, learn, connect with, and respond to external stimuli. As a highly metabolic active organ that governs virtually all body functions, the brain is in constant need of a consistent supply of different nutrients. Therefore, as a natural and rich food source, bananas cater to several mechanisms through which they can support a healthy brain.

  • Potassium for nerve and muscle function: The high potassium content of bananas makes them a valuable tool for sustaining appropriate nerve and muscle functions. Differences between potassium concentrations inside and outside these cells are required for proper muscle contraction and smooth transmission of electrical impulses between brain cells, improving cognitive processes such as memory and active learning.
  • Vitamin C for antioxidant support: The notable amount of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant in bananas, acts as a shield against the damaging effects of free radicals from oxidative stress in the brain. This protection against oxidative stress provided by vitamin C can attenuate the progressive decay of nerves, avoiding deteriorated cognitive function
  • Vitamin B6 for neurotransmitter production: Vitamin B6 plays a key role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine, chemical compounds that allow nerve cells to communicate and can modulate our mood, memory, and cognitive function. Additionally, vitamin B6 is thought to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with a higher incidence of neurodegenerative conditions. However, clinical studies that followed older adults with dementia under vitamin B6 supplementation did not increase confidence in this correlation.1

Studies and scientific evidence

Considering the extent of benefits of healthy dietary choices, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been promoting the consumption of five daily portions of fruit and vegetables (“five a day”) since the early 2000s.2 Accordingly, the scientific community has been extensively exploring the tightly-knit relationship between food and brain health.

A systematic review of the scientific studies published on the intersection of better dietary choices and brain health evaluated six different studies with over 21,000 individuals analysed. This compelling set of scientific data showed that eating more portions of fruit and vegetables is directly linked with a lower risk of developing a number of cognitive disorders.3

More specifically, scientific evidence presents bananas as brain boosters.4 More than being packed with glucose, a low glycaemic index sugar (sugar slowly broken down which avoids peaks in blood sugar levels), bananas also carry lots of tryptophan, an amino acid that is the precursor of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates learning and memory, and is also dubbed the “feel-good hormone”.  

A recent study has followed so-called “Super Agers”, a group of people over 80 years old who have the cognitive function of those decades younger. The main factor that seems to set these individuals apart is their sharp brains, and interestingly, banana consumption as an option, at least twice a day, has been a common factor among those studied.5

Incorporating bananas into your diet 

Now that we are convinced that bananas are not only delicious but also extremely nutritious let’s discuss practical ways to incorporate them regularly into your pantry and on your plate. 

  • Breakfast boost: Adding banana slices to your yoghurt, pancakes, cereal, or oatmeal can give you an extra shot of energy in the morning.
  • Smoothie superfood: Blending bananas into your smoothies with other brain-boosting choices, such as spinach and berries, can significantly elevate your shake.
  • Midday snack: Keeping a few of these ideal portable snacks in your reach makes for a healthy and convenient pick-me-up anytime. For sustained energy, pair them up with nuts or protein.

Among sweet and savoury options, bananas can also add a fun twist to your recipes. The possibilities are endless!

  • Banana Pancakes: Incorporate mashed ripe bananas into your pancake batter for a natural sweetener and extra flavour.
  • Banana Salsa: Mix diced bananas with red onion, lime juice, and a touch of chilli for your new favourite refreshing salsa. 
  • Banana Ice Cream: Blend frozen ripe bananas for a creamy ice cream substitute. Get creative by adding peanut butter, cocoa powder, or other toppings!

Potential considerations and precautions 

Though bananas are generally safe for the biggest share of individuals, potential allergies or sensitivities may occur in the form of allergy-associated symptoms such as itching, swelling, or digestive discomfort.

Moderate banana consumption is advised for individuals with diabetes and kidney conditions due to their natural sugar and potassium contents, respectively. Bananas may also potentially interact with certain medications, such as particular beta-blockers, that can lead to elevated potassium levels in the bloodstream. Due to their rich potassium content, bananas could potentially exacerbate this condition. Remember that in case you might have any concerns regarding any of the factors discussed, do not hesitate to seek medical evaluation and guidance from your healthcare provider. 


As the fascinating organs that they are, our brains demand a constant and steady supply of nutrients to function at their optimal state. Bananas, with their rich bundle of deliciously sourced nutrients, contribute to boosting cognitive function by not only supporting brain physiology but also helping sustain mental clarity and overall well-being. A more balanced approach toward nutrition based on unpacking the potential of unprocessed foods like fruit and vegetables can nurture cognitive health daily, leading to a fuller and more vibrant lifestyle. Finally, it is pivotal to remember that, together with nutrition, physical activities and mental stimulation are also key to a healthy brain. 


  1. Cognitive Enhancement
  2. Nutritional Benefits of Bananas
  3. Neurotransmitter Regulation
  4. Memory Improvement
  5. Antioxidant-rich Foods
  6. Diet and Brain Health
  7. Potassium and Nerve Function
  8. Vitamin B6 and Cognitive Function
  9. Healthy Eating for the Mind
  10. Natural Brain Boosters
  11. Cognitive Health Tips
  12. Balanced Nutrition for Brainpower
  13. Mood and Brain Function
  14. Mental Clarity
  15. Memory Retention Strategies


  1. Rutjes AW, Denton DA, Nisio MD, Chong LY, Abraham RP, Al‐Assaf AS, et al. Vitamin and mineral supplementation for maintaining cognitive function in cognitively healthy people in mid and late life. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Oct 12];(12). Available from:
  2. Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases: report of a joint WHO/FAO expert consultation, Geneva, 28 January - 1 February 2002 [Internet]. [cited 2023 Oct 12]. Available from:
  3. Wu L, Sun D, Tan Y. Intake of fruit and vegetables and the incident risk of cognitive disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. J Nutr Health Aging [Internet]. 2017 Dec 1 [cited 2023 Oct 12];21(10):1284–90. Available from:
  4. 2018: 5 foods to boost your concentration - University of Wollongong – UOW [Internet]. [cited 2023 Oct 12]. Available from:
  5. Contributor MM. CNBC. 2023 [cited 2023 Oct 12]. A 45-year-old brain expert shares how he eats like a ‘SuperAger’ to stay ‘sharp and focused’ every day. Available from: 
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Leticia Tiburcio Ferreira

PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology – University of Campinas, Brazil

Letícia is an experienced researcher and passionate writer. Her solid background in molecular biology and infectious diseases has led her to experiences in renowned institutions like Columbia University, University of Campinas, and Texas A&M University. After years of academic writing and authoring research proposals and pieces in indexed and peer-reviewed scientific journals, she is now focused on broadening audiences within an intersection between science and communication. Driven by the desire to contribute to education through writing and constant learning, she is delving into medical communications and making health-related content accessible and relatable to the general public. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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