by Hayley Chemski-Horwat, MSN, CNRA
Bananas are an excellent power food that can be used for lean snacks and meals. High in carbohydrates, Vitamin C, dietary fiber, Vitamin B6, and potassium these yellow wonders pack a punch for a quick energy source. Bananas combat muscle cramps and premenstrual syndrome symptoms, improve digestion in several ways, and make you smarter!
Carbohydrates that are derived from plant sources are the leanest way to provide the body with fast energy without storing excess calories as fat. At 100-200kCal/banana and around 28 grams of carbohydrates bananas are an excellent food choice (14g of sugar). With a low glycemic index (or amount of sugar that enters the body) bananas level blood sugar, and decrease hunger pangs and irritability.
Bananas are a wonder for digestive issues. Dietary fiber and pectin found in the fruit help to improve ‘regularity’ and motility in the bowel. The majority of bananas’ fiber content is water soluble, so water travels to the intestines and slows digestion time keeping you fuller longer (weight loss aide). Digestion is also improved with a banana’s punch of natural antacids decreasing the symptoms of heartburn. As a raw fruit banana coats the stomach and decreases the effect of acids against the stomach’s lining and also boosts prebiotics in the intestine to combat ‘bad bugs’ associated with diarrhea.
Packed in micro and macronutrients, bananas are mega foods. As a source of Vitamin B6 and tryptophan (a precursor to serotonin) bananas improve mood, decrease stress levels, and decrease symptoms of smokers’ withdrawal. By offering potassium and magnesium, bananas decrease muscle cramp. They are excellent pre-workout snacks and pre-bedtime snacks for those afflicted with exercise induced leg cramps or ‘restless leg syndrome,’ respectively. A banana’s potassium load can also perk up the brain ‘muscle’ and make you feel alert and energized. Vitamin C sources increase bone density and decrease the risk of osteoporosis especially in adult females, and promote eye health.
Bananas can certainly increase your overall health and well-being. During the Banana Split celebration that is upon us, remember the fruit on top packs a nutritional punch — just keep the ice cream treat below to a moderate level and enjoy!
Source: “25 Powerful Reasons to Eat Bananas.” Food Matters, August 14, 2012. Retrieved from www.foodmatters.tv on July 20, 2015.
Hayley is a Certified Fitness Trainer and the co-owner of Building Bodeez Fitness Center, located at 154 Pandora Rd in Derry, PA, as well as a full-time Nurse Anesthetist with the University of Pittsburgh Physicians, currently based at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Fox Chapel, PA. Hayley offers a wealth of fitness and health knowledge, serving as the Group Fitness Coordinator and Wellness Programs Director at Building Bodeez.