Bananas are fruits that typically grow in warm weather or equatorial regions. They are tropical fruits, but people consume and enjoy them worldwide. Bananas are from the genus Musa from the Musaceae family according to the botanical classification. It is a flowering plant with lots of varieties. The soft part of the fruit, inside the banana’s covering, makes it perfect for consumption on its own or as a part of baked food. Plantains are a stiffer type of banana and are usually baked and eaten.
Banana is a classic, multipurpose, readily accessible, low-cost, simple, and healthy meal choice. There are many known varieties of bananas. This fruit is universal and severely deep-rooted in the cultures of Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the USA, as well. The whole fruit, the banana flower, and the banana stem beside the peel have several health advantages when cooked, or used in other forms.1,2
There are various categories of bananas across the world. Generally, we can find the following five types:
- Cavendish bananas: These are also called “dessert” bananas and this variety is commonly used in smoothies, desserts, and cakes. Dense yellow skin and creamy, juicy, and sweetened flesh are the typical features of this type. It is also the most commonly existing variety in a lot of grocery markets
- Apple bananas: These are related mostly to South and Central America and are classically found on Hawaii Island. This variety is known to be small-sized with strong, rose-pink flesh. That is why it gets its name
- Red banana: Red bananas are shorter and desirable, and this fruit has reddish-purple-dense skin. Once ripe, the flesh becomes soft and sweeter than other banana types
- Lady finger banana: Lengthier and thinner, this is native to India. These plants grow in warm weather and as they are smaller in size, they are perfect as snacks
- Plantain: This subtype is a green firm banana. However, it has the same nutritious value as the other types. Plantains are starchy with the smallest sugar amount among the different varieties of bananas. Plantains can not be eaten raw, they are suitable only after being cooked
Health benefits of bananas
Almost everyone enjoys bananas either as a part of different recipes or in raw form. Consuming bananas has been linked to the following health benefits:1-5
- Bananas help in building lean muscle and help in faster recovery after exercise due to their potassium (a body electrolyte) and carbohydrate content and have the ability to maintain the fluid balance in the body
- Bananas support a good mood and may decrease feelings of stress and anxiety. Also, eating a banana before bedtime helps you sleep better. This is because bananas can help in the production of serotonin, the happy hormone, due to their rich vitamin and mineral content
- Bananas help regulate blood pressure levels and reduce bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) levels. This again is due to the mineral and electrolyte content in bananas which plays a role in maintaining the fluid levels in the body. They are a part of the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) which is advised for people with raised blood pressure as a lifestyle change to manage blood pressure and for a healthy heart
- Bananas support a healthier digestive system and help reduce bloatedness. They also regulate bowel movements. Their rich fibre content mainly helps in this
- Bananas support good vision, healthy eyes, and bone health
- The sugar in bananas is a source of energy
- Bananas also contain pectin which can help detoxify your body and help burn fat
Nutrients we can get from bananas
The banana’s nutritional values are never the same as the fruit’s micronutrients and macronutrients become different as the fruit grows.5 A medium-sized banana contains about:
- 105 calories
- 27 grams of carbohydrates (about 14 grams of natural sugar)
- 1.3 grams of protein
- 0.4 grams of fat
- 3 grams of fiber
- Vitamins such as Vitamin C (10 mg), and B Vitamins
- Minerals such as:
- Potassium (422 mg)
- Zinc (0.18 mg)
- Selenium (1.2 µg)
- Copper (0.1 mg)
- Manganese (0.3 mg)
Ways to include bananas in our diet
Some simple ways to include bananas in our diet are listed below.
- Banana quinoa porridge: 357 kcal
It is a high-protein, healthy breakfast recipe.
Ingredients: egg, 4 cups milk, 3 bananas, ¼ cup chopped walnuts, 1 cup dried quinoa, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, vanilla, salt, honey or maple syrup.
- Banana pecan granola: 240 kcal
Perfect idea for breakfast in a parfait or bowl.
Ingredients: 1 ½ cups flaked oats, ½ cup dried banana chips, ¼ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut, 2/3 chopped pecans, 2 tbsp orange juice, and 1 tsp (cinnamon, salt, vanilla, butter, honey), ¼ cup dried cranberries.
- Banana sushi: 390 kcal
Great fast, fun kids’ breakfast, lunch, or meal. You need only three components to make this meal for kids. Ingredients: Tortilla, banana, Nut or seed butter.
- Banana s’mores: 321 kcal
It is a fun, classic, and easy-to-make recipe and is suitable for a gluten-free diet.
Ingredients: 1 banana, 2 tsp marshmallows, 3 gm cracker squares, chocolate chips.
- Chocolate banana pretzel bites: 37 kcal
Tastes the same as ice cream. An excellent healthy snack.
Ingredients: Banana, peanut butter, mini salted pretzels, chocolates.
- Strawberry banana ice cream: 119 kcal
Ingredients: frozen Bananas, ½ cup frozen strawberry, ½ cup milk, vanilla.
- Banana almond butter toast: 280 kcal
Ingredients: almond butter, rye bread, banana.
How much is enough?
Bananas are healthy nutrient-dense fruit. The recommended daily intake by the NHS is one medium-size banana according to the 5-a-day portion sizes. However, it is advisable not to eat more than 2 bananas per day due to their high potassium content which might be harmful in certain conditions.
Side effects and how much to consume?
Although bananas are safe food and deliver numerous health benefits, it doesn’t mean that it is okay to overconsume them. Some of the side effects of overconsuming bananas are listed below and we need to exercise caution if having too many bananas. The possible side effects include:
- Distention or gas: Due to the presence of soluble fibre
- Tooth decay: The starch in bananas melts gradually in the mouth, leaving some particles that make a good culture for bacteria
- Allergy: Ragweed allergy may occur. You may experience a swollen throat and skin rashes. If such symptoms occur, you have to quit eating bananas and consult your doctor
- Pain in the stomach: Eating a lot of bananas may cause marked stomach pain. The high dietary fiber activates the digestion progression and may cause diarrhea
Banana is a highly beneficial food and safe for daily consumption. But, in some medical situations, it may harmfully affect your body. Some of these conditions are:
- Kidney disease: If the potassium level in your blood is high due to kidney disease, or the kidneys are not functioning well, you must avoid bananas in your food
- Migraine: If you have a migraine, you have to avoid bananas as they might increase tyramine in your body which may deteriorate your condition
Bananas are healthy fruits that you can add to nearly all types of diets. They are of high nutritional value-full of fibres, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. They are of great benefit to the brain, heart, and gut. They are an excellent source of energy for workouts, they help to maintain stable blood sugar, a better mood, good sleep patterns, and help to maintain a healthy body weight.
This fruit is a multipurpose, simple, transportable food and can be used in various dishes. But for those individuals with special health situations, for instance, kidney disorders with high potassium levels in the blood, or migraine, you should avoid bananas in your diet. About one to two medium-sized bananas are suitable for a healthy person per day. There are several health values but frequently exceeding the above limit might cause you further harm than benefit.
- Falcomer AL, Riquette RFR, de Lima BR, Ginani VC, Zandonadi RP. Health benefits of green banana consumption: a systematic review. Nutrients. 2019 May;11(6):1222. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627159/
- Sidhu JS, Zafar TA. Bioactive compounds in banana fruits and their health benefits. Food Quality and Safety. 2018 Dec;2(4):183–8. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/fqs/article/2/4/183/5164297
- Leelarungrayub J, Parameyong A, Eungpinichpong W, Klaphajone J. Effects of banana (Linn) consumption for physical strength, metabolic response, oxidative stress, lipid profiles, and interleukin-23 in healthy men: a preliminary study. The Open Sports Sciences Journal. 2017 Sep;10(1). Available from: https://opensportssciencesjournal.com/VOLUME/10/PAGE/151/FULLTEXT/
- Oude Griep LM, Stamler J, Chan Q, Van Horn L, Steffen LM, Miura K, et al. Association of raw fruit and fruit juice consumption with blood pressure: the INTERMAP Study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013 May;97(5):1083–91. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S000291652305517X
- Phillips KM, McGinty RC, Couture G, Pehrsson PR, McKillop K, Fukagawa NK. Dietary fiber, starch, and sugars in bananas at different stages of ripeness in the retail market. PLoS One. 2021 Jul;16(7):e0253366. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8266066/