Power of Banana
I got a question for you, raise your hand if you want to eat and be healthy?
Hopefully, everyone in the room raises their hand. As a physician, it warms my heart to see people care about their health.
Now my next question, who has the money for a healthy lifestyle? I can guess there are a lot of hands coming down.
As a medical student, I have been living on a budget for the past eight years of my schooling. But I cannot just forget my health. You know what I mean, who wants to be seen by an unhealthy doctor?
During medical school, I can stay healthy while avoiding those $11 Smoothie King smoothies and $19 medium lunch trays at Whole Foods.
Seriously Whole Foods, you are charging as if your food came from the Garden of Eden itself!!!
I am constantly learning about the truly healthy foods we should be eating. Most of these foods are not that expensive. It is when we try to buy the finished product we end up getting screwed with the price. So, buy the individual ingredients and save some money.
No thank you Whole Foods, hold on to your $16.77 rice bowel or $44.99 six pack of juice. I got this!!!
One of the healthiest foods you can add for the cheap is bananas. Trust me; bananas have been excellent for my health and my wallet.
The History of the Banana
The banana goes back as far as 5000 BC, it one of the oldest farmed crop. It has been grown in a variety of sizes (miniature bananas to large plantains), shapes (straight/ curved), and colors (bright yellow/green to dark red/brown).
It was first cultivated in southeast Asia and Papa New Guinea. The banana grows very well in regions of warm climate and nutritious soil. Since then it has spread west through Asia, Africa, Europe, and eventually to North and South America.
Colonialists brought bananas as an exotic fruit and were not grown on a large scale. After the Civil War worldwide popularity of the banana exploded.
Today, India is the largest exporter of bananas.
Bananas are divided into two types. There is the dessert banana, Musa sapientum. It is the banana that you peel and eat raw. It has a soft texture that gives a very sweet taste.
The other kind is Musa paradisiaca or the plantain banana. This banana usually needs to be cooked. It is firmer texture and starchy flavor than a sweet one. This banana is made into chips, patties, and soups.
Both types of banana have heavy influence in southeast Asian, African, and south American dishes.
In America, we love bananas in our pancakes, desserts, and of course smoothies!
Fun fact: The main banana exported internationally is called the Cavendish banana. These bananas while the most popular they do not have much genetic diversity. This makes it easier for it be infected by fungus or bacteria. Currently it is thought that the Panama disease is about to wipe out the Cavendish banana soon.
Nutrition Facts: One Cup of Bananas
- Calories: 200 cal
- Protein: 2.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 51.4 g
- Sugars 27.5 g
- Dietary Fiber: 5.9 g
- Vitamin C: 19.6 mg
- Folate: 45 micrograms (mcg)
- Vitamin A: 144 international units (IU)
- Calcium: 11.3 mg
- Magnesium: 60.8 mg
- Phosphorus: 49.5 mg
- Potassium: 806 mg
The main sources of nutrition from the banana include potassium, vitamin A, magnesium, antioxidants and dietary fiber. Combined with the cheap cost of bananas, this makes them one of the most popular foods in the world.
- ONE THING TO NOTE: The banana is one of the sweetest fruits. Its high sugar content makes it delicious but watch out if you are looking to cut sugar from your diet.
1. Blood pressure
Those with high blood pressure hold on to too much salt in the form of sodium. This can cause our bodies to retain extra fluid. When our body hold on to sodium, it will get rid of other electrolytes like potassium.
If one has high blood pressure, extra bananas in the diet will be beneficial.
2. Preventing Development of Cancer
Cancer is more likely to happen as we get older. Our bodies break down and eventually lose the ability to stop a cancer cell from developing.
What we can do is to reduce our risks for developing cancer.
There are things we cannot control like our age, genetics, and the environment we were raised in.
The ones we can control are our diet, health habits (not smoking or drinking), and getting our vaccinations. A way to prevent the damage to our DNA is consuming antioxidants via bananas, strawberries, blueberries, etc.….
According to Food Chemistry, “the antioxidant capacity of the bananas may be attributed to their gallocatechin content. Bananas should be considered as a good source of natural antioxidants for foods.” These anti-oxidants can neutralize harmful free radicals in our bodies that damage our DNA leading to cancer.”
Fun Fact: Eating enough fiber in our diet will decrease our risk of developing colorectal cancer. Bananas are good sources of fiber.
3. Heart health
High blood pressure can lead organ failure. It makes the heart pump harder to supply blood to all the organs.
If blood does not adequately supply the end organs, it causes damage. It can be headaches (brain), blurry vision (eyes), not urinating (kidneys), or belly pain (intestines).
Bananas will decrease one’s chances of developing high blood pressure, strokes, or heart attacks.
4. Promotes Better Digestion
The banana is made so simple sugar and is easy to digest.
Do you ever why bananas are a popular soft food to give to babies?
The fiber is of two types.
Starch (insoluble fiber) - The more unripe the banana, the more starch in it. This fiber doesn’t digest well, but it serves as food the for the bacteria in our gut. These naturally occurring bacteria help us with digestion and make nutrients for us like vitamin K.
Most Americans do not meet daily fiber guidelines; bananas have 3 grams of fiber so, it is a great source.
5. Promotes Better Mood & Sleep
There is an amino acid in bananas called tryptophan. Our bodies cannot make this amino acid so we must get it from our food. Tryptophan is a precursor needed to make many of the chemicals that regulate our brain.
One is serotonin which is important in regulating our mood.
Another is melatonin which helps regulate our sleep/awake cycle.
While it does not cure any disease, not having enough tryptophan can cause poor concentration, mood irregularities, and poor sleep.
6. Weight Loss
Being low in sugar and high in fiber makes it an excellent food for those trying to lose weight according to its glycemic index.
This means bananas will slowly raise your blood sugar as it is being digested. This means there is no sudden crash of energy where you feel terrible. The fiber also helps you feel full as it is slowly digested.
The banana is good way to get natural sugars. I would advise my patients to switch out sweet candy and cookie snacks with a sweet fruit like a banana.
Watch your Banana Consumption if…
While potassium is an important electrolyte, having too much of can be as bad as not having enough. Imbalances of potassium can cause dangerous heart arrhythmias, muscle problems, and other issues.
Damage from the disease may impair your kidneys’ ability to get rid of potassium.
Certain medications for blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes, and pain can influence potassium.
Make sure you are speaking to your doctor about your diet and medication regimen before making any changes.
Top 5 Banana Recipe Smoothies
Peanut Butter Oatmeal- Banana Smoothie
- ½ Cup of oatmeal
- 1 ½ Cup of 2% Milk or Almond Milk
- 1 Whole Banana
- 2 Tablespoons of Peanut Butter
- 4 Ice Cubes
- 2 Tablespoons of Chia or Flax seeds
This smoothie has almost all the fiber you need in one daily serving. This is a rich smoothie to get your morning started off on the right foot.
Strawberry Banana Smoothie
- 1 ½ cups strawberries
- 1 banana
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 cup of almond milk
- 10 ice cubes
This is a classic flavor combination like peanut butter and jelly. Everyone loves a good strawberry banana drink. That is my favorite kind of milkshake.
The strawberries have vitamin C in antioxidants. The banana is full of fiber and potassium. Feel free to add a little bit of oatmeal or flax seeds to give it a thicker texture.
Powerhouse Green Smoothie
- 1 cup of spinach, washed
- ½ cup of strawberries
- 1 cup of water
- 1 whole banana
- 1 teaspoon of ginger
- 1 tablespoon of honey
Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, folate, and fiber. The spinach flavor is matched nicely with the ginger and honey.
Blueberry Strawberry Smoothie
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 banana
- ½ cup of orange juice
- 1 cup of almond milk
- 5 ice cubes
Strawberries and blueberries are the sweeter berries. They are both full of vitamins, antioxidants, and promote energy.
I would use this as a work time snack. With only having 200 calories you will feel light and full of energy.
Strawberry Pineapple Banana Smoothie
- 2 cups of strawberries
- 2 bananas, peeled
- 1 cup of orange juice or pineapple juice
- 1 whole banana
- 2 tablespoons of coconut flakes
- ½ cups of pineapple chunks
- 1 cup of ice
This is a favorite on the list. Not only tasty but will provide you with enough vitamin C and antioxidants for your entire day.
Dr. CHRISTIAN-JEVON BRAMWELL MD
Christian Bramwell, MD uses his own weight loss story as teaching for people struggling with their own weight through blogging, teaching, and writing. His mission in life is to promote health and education, that is why he has chosen to be a family physician and found his own nonprofit Project RAK based on education and empowerment.
NPI (Doctor proof number) - 1336632918 NPI Number: