HomeHealthBananas have plenty of health benefits, but also some risks

Bananas have plenty of health benefits, but also some risks

Bananas are a little prepackaged serving of health, but sometimes there is too much of a good thing.

Bananas are high in potassium, a good source of vitamin B6 and Australians love them. According to the Australian Banana Growers’ Council, we eat 16kg of them per person per year and they are one of Australia’s top-selling grocery items.

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They also soothe the gut – thanks to their high pectin content that helps lower cholesterol – and improve bowl function. And they are great for exercising. Their combination of low water content and high sugar levels supplies an instant, yet sustained, boost of energy.

But of course, like anything, don’t eat too many. While bananas’ high potassium level is usually a good thing as potassium is crucial for survival, some people should take care.

Dietitian Catherine Collins told the BBC that people with kidney disease should be aware of their intake.

“Patients who have very low kidney function can potentially see a build-up of harmful potassium levels in their bloodstream because they can’t get rid of the mineral when they pass urine,” Ms Collins said.

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However, for everyone else, it’s almost impossible to overdose on bananas.

“You would probably need around 400 bananas a day to build up the kind of potassium levels that would cause your heart to stop beating,” Ms Collins said.

“Bananas are not dangerous – in fact they are, and always have been, very good for you.”

But if you have a latex allergy, you might also need to avoid bananas.

According to the Victorian Department of Health, up to half the people who have a latex allergy may also have an allergic reaction to bananas, avocados, chestnut, kiwifruit, passionfruit, plum, strawberry and tomato, because some of the proteins that cause allergic reactions to latex are also in these fruits.

Common symptoms include tingling in the mouth, stuffy nose, itchy eyes and wheezing. Children with a banana allergy often grow out of it, but not so if you develop it later in life.

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Bananas are also found to trigger migraine headaches. However, if not a trigger, they can be used to recover from an attack as they can provide a quick boost of energy.

Australia’s most popular banana is the Cavendish, named after the 6th Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish, who cultivated them in the early 20th century in his massive greenhouse. No really, it was enormous, and at 84m long it required 300 tons of coal a year to heat.

Technically, banana plants are giant herbs. In fact, it’s the largest flowering herbaceous plant, and the fruit is classified as a berry. The bananas we eat are entirely cultivated by humans and wouldn’t exist without our intervention. Wild type bananas have chunky seeds throughout and are pretty much inedible.

What’s your favourite way of eating bananas? Why not share your suggestions in the comments section below?

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Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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