When it comes to health benefits, bananas are difficult to beat. They are delicious, cheap, available throughout the year and almost every part of a banana tree is useful – be it the leaves, flowers, fruit or the stem.
Although the leaves are mainly used as a replacement for plates and for cooking food, you can enjoy the fruit on its own or in a fruit salad or a milk shake. The banana stem and flowers are used as a staple ingredient in many South Indian dishes. And of course, not to forget the mouth-watering banana halwa! Bananas are rich in carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins B6, and minerals like potassium and manganese which make them very nutritious.
Here are 12 health benefits of bananas:
1. Need instant energy? Eat a banana!
With an average of 105 calories, banana is an excellent source of instant energy. It is especially great as an after workout food because it instantly replenishes the low levels of glucose in the blood – commonly seen after a workout. Eat a banana immediately after your workout to give you that instant kick of energy.
2. Fight those muscle cramps
Ever worked out so hard that your muscles cramped up? Or woken up in the night because of a painful cramp in your legs? Bananas might just be the right solution for you — it actually protects you from muscle cramps. Because of its high magnesium and potassium content, bananas are the best way to replenish the minerals in your body. It helps relax the muscles and protects you from any further episodes of leg cramps.
3. Keep your blood pressure under check.
Bananas, being very rich in potassium and very low in sodium help manage blood pressure better. They also help maintain water balance in the body and detoxify the body to protect you against heart attack and stroke.
4. Keep acidity at bay
Bananas are also very effective antacids. They coat the inner lining of the stomach and suppress acid secretion, thereby protecting you from stomach ulcers and acidity.
5. Beat constipation
Both the fruit and stem are rich in fibre and pectin which helps assist bowel motility and eases out constipation. Alternatively you can even drink the juice prepared from the banana plant stem.
6. Recover faster after a bout of diarrhoea
Just had a bout of diarrhoea? Banana can be beneficial after diarrhoea too! Diarrhoea leaves your body dehydrated and depleted of electrolytes. Restore the lost potassium by eating bananas.
7. Get the probiotic effect naturally
The probiotic effect of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) present in bananas, helps stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestine and protect you against gastric disturbances. It is also good for your bone health too. Fermentation of FOS reduces the pH in the gut thereby promoting calcium absorption which in turn builds strong bones.Banana stem helps to eliminate fluids from the body. This diuretic effect is thought to be useful in eliminating kidney stones and also help detoxify the body. The stem is also believed to dissolve stones.
8. Get a good night’s sleep
Having a banana before bed can help promote sleep. The soothing effect is due to high levels of tryptophan which gets converted to serotonin in the brain. This not only improves your mood but also makes you more alert and improves your concentration levels.
9. Get glowing skin
Apart from helping you get some much needed beauty sleep, you can add bananas to your beauty regime too. Banana masks are a natural way to get smooth, supple and glowing skin. It has moisturising properties which are extremely good for people who have dry skin.
10. Improve your sex life
The phallic shape of banana makes it the most suggestive food. But the aphrodisiac effect of banana is not just confined to its shape. It is rich in nutrients that help produce sexual hormones and also enhance male libido. It also regulates secretion of serotonin which is known to be responsible for the euphoric feeling after intercourse.
Health.India.com/ Dr Anitha Anchan