Five wonderfully surprising health benefits of bananas

Big, beautiful bunch of bananas

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor at bay, but whoever coined this pithy phrase had clearly never encountered a banana. They’re one of the most widely consumed fruits – more than 100 billion bananas are eaten every year worldwide – yet few of us know about the incredible health benefits that are loaded in each bunch.

Packed with antioxidants and disease-fighting vitamins, they are one of the greatest snack foods and since they come packed in their own wrapper, they’re easy to grab on the go without having to buy extra plastic.

The best thing about these tubular fruits? They’re available to buy all year round, and they make a great pick-me-up during the winter months when many berries and fruits are out of season.

Read: Healthy snacks to power you through the day

Here, we’ve found a handful of amazing health benefits of this humble fruit.

1. They can help with digestion

Struggling with a bloated belly and stomach pains after a hearty meal? Studies have shown that bananas can help. Their high-fibre content helps to promote a harmonious gut function, easing the symptoms of bowel conditions such as IBS. In Ayurveda, the balance between sweet and sour tastes in the fleshy fruit is said to bring about a sense of heaviness, while also stimulating the important flow of agni – or the digestive juices. They’re also a brilliant hangover cure, as they help to restore normal bowel function after a night of sugary, alcoholic drinks, as well as important electrolytes and potassium.

2. They’re an instant energy boost

Vegan banana pineapple and orange smoothie!!

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Forget sugary sports drinks and caffeine-filled coffees: bananas are secretly the healthiest way to get an energy hit first thing on a gloomy Monday morning. That’s because they contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose – giving you a fat and cholesterol-free source of fuel. Whizz them up in a shake for a morning treat or pack one in your sports bag for a delicious post-workout pick-me-up.

3. They keep your heart healthy

Peel away your banana and you’ll find that the starchy flesh inside is loaded with potassium – an important mineral that is essential for heart health. A potassium-rich diet can help lower blood pressure, and studies have shown that people who load up on the mineral have up to a 27 per cent lower risk of heart disease. Amazingly, the average banana contains a whopping 425 mgs of potassium, about 11 per cent of the recommended dietary allowance.

Read: Keep on top of hypokalemia with these simple tips

4. They’re good for your eyes

The good news for short-sighted fans of the yellow fruit? Bananas, like carrots and pumpkins, are packed with antioxidant compounds and carotenoids, as well as a potent mix of minerals that can have seriously positive effects on the health of your eyes. Eating bananas regularly has been shown to decrease macular degeneration, cataracts, night blindness and glaucoma.

5. They can help with weight loss

Bananas can help you to feel fuller for longer. (Thinkstock/PA)

Hoping to shed a few kilograms before summer? You may very well want to stock up on a few bunches of bananas. This weight-loss friendly food contains very few calories (about 100 per banana), yet they’re super filling and very nutritious. Bunches that are on the unripened end of the spectrum are filled with resistant starch, which has been shown to have appetite-reducing effects and increase the feeling of fullness after meals.

Read: Top foods that protect your brain

So next time you’re thinking of going for a second helping of dinner? Try tucking into a just-ripened banana instead.

– With PA

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