Bananas are a tasty snack, loaded with a variety of nutrients. While we always hear about the yellow-colored fruit being an excellent source of potassium, there are many more health benefits it can offer.
1. Better digestion
Approximately 70 percent of the fiber found in a banana is insoluble, the kind that does not dissolve in liquid. In short, this type of fiber helps food move quickly and easily through the stomach and intestines.
If you experience constipation, eating the fruit can be helpful in easing your symptoms. Bananas are also among the good sources of prebiotics, which makes it beneficial for the good bacteria in your gut.
2. Improved sleep
If you feel a bit restless and find it hard to fall asleep, a banana should be a good choice for a bedtime snack. As noted by Forbes, the fruit contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which is eventually converted to serotonin. The neurotransmitter plays a role in mood elevation as well as the regulation of sleep-wake cycles.
In one study from 2013, participants showed an increase in the levels of melatonin in their blood around two hours after eating a banana. Melatonin, known as the sleep hormone, also helps in regulating circadian rhythms.
3. Healthier heart
Among all nutrients, bananas are most often associated with potassium. One medium banana is estimated to contain 422 milligrams of potassium, which makes up 12 percent of your recommended daily intake. The fruit is also low in sodium content.
This nutritional profile makes it a heart-healthy snack when it comes to reducing risk of high blood pressure. The potassium can also help by protecting against the hardening of the arteries, a symptom which has been linked to heart disease.
4. Workout boost
Giving up those sugar-loaded sports drinks? Well, bananas may be the healthier alternative you were seeking. One small study from 2012 found that they reduced oxidative stress and helped improve the performance of male athletes in cycling races.
“They pack more nutrients than sports drinks and have a healthier blend of natural sugars with bonus antioxidants,” said Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., a contributing nutrition editor at Health.
5. Pregnancy food
One medium-sized banana can provide 0.43 milligrams or 33 percent of how much vitamin B6 you need to consume in a day. The nutrient is “important for brain development during pregnancy and enzyme reactions involved in metabolism,” as told by Prevention.
The B6 content can provide another benefit during the first trimester, according to Anar Allidina, a registered dietitian from Canada. “Having bananas during the early weeks of pregnancy may help with nausea that many women experience,” she told the Huffington Post.