Related imageMost of us grew up eating apples, oranges, and bananas; however, supermarkets today have a tremendous variety of fruits and vegetables. Bananas probably aren’t as “trendy” as other fruits like avocados but bananas are considered the “world’s most perfect food.” They are packed with vitamins and nutrients. A fresh yellow banana with few brown patches is the thing you strive for, but timing is everything—even when it comes to biting into a piece of fruit. Science shows that the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fat, and even calories in natural’s candy can vary significantly depending on its ripeness.

Let me ask you this, do you normally avoid eating overripe bananas with brown spots or patches? Generally, people prefer fresh, green or slightly yellow bananas. One mistake that consumers usually make is to link the brown spots on a banana with fruit disease. In reality, the opposite is true. The more brown spots a banana has, the healthier and tastier the banana is. The taste and nutritional value of bananas change as they ripen. Their starch turns to sugar, their flavor changes from starchy to sweet and their texture changes from slightly chalky to mushy, even though the flesh stays white. The upside to eating newly-ripened bananas is that you stay full for longer and enjoy the benefits of the resistant starch therein. On the other hand, a well-ripened banana with some dark patches on the skin is easier to digest and may give you the energy boost you require before playing sports.

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They may look unappetizing with those brown spots or patches but overripe bananas are usually fine to eat, and even better for cooking. Ripe bananas eventually develop those dark brown patches after about five days left at room temperature or if bruised spots on the banana has provided an environment for bacteria to grow (that are can simply be cut out) but they can stay good another five to seven days in the refrigerator although their skins turn completely black. If you take the skins off, for easy defrosting, overripe bananas remain edible and good for cooking up to three months in the freezer.

Now to the million dollar question; Why Do Yellow Bananas Develop Dark Spots?

The main reason is because of the enzymes in the bananas, which start to break down the starches into sugar. This natural behavior makes the banana easier to digest in our gut. Besides easy digestion, banana with dark spots, or ripe bananas, contains more antioxidants than green bananas. When dark spots appear on the banana peel, it produces a substance known as Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) which combats abnormal cells. Moreover, a ripe banana is eight times more effective in increasing our body’s immune system than a fresh banana.

Should Pregnant Mothers Eat Bananas?

During pregnancy, mothers will produce 50% more body fluids and blood to soften the body and for the development needs of the fetus. This is known as oedema, these pregnancy swelling usually occurs during the third trimester on hands, feet, legs and face. Leg cramps are the common symptom of low potassium intake for pregnant mothers.

Now, a medium size banana would about 422mg. Due to the 50% fluid retention (oedema), pregnant mothers are recommended to consume 4,700mg of potassium daily. Nursing mother would require 5,100mg of potassium daily. So, always enjoy your bananas when it is fully ripe for the best nutritional benefits. For pregnant and nursing mothers, having a banana daily is a good natural source of potassium for you.

Bananas can be eaten as they are but they are also used in variety of recipes from salads to baked goods, pancakes, puddings, even in your cereal, and let’s not forget about the delicious milkshake they make, yum! It is highly rich in minerals and vitamins (Vitamin B6, Manganese, Vitamin C, Potassium, Copper, Biotin, iron) and also in fiber. In addition, it is very low in fat and contains a very high calorie. When we talk about the  health benefits of bananas, there are so many out there, but here are 7 selected  health benefits of bananas which are far from exaggeration and mere hype:

It Helps Soothe Your Ulcers

Ulcers are painful and they just make you sad because there is so much you cannot eat because of them. One good news is that there is just one fruit that you can eat which won’t cause more pain during an ulcer flare-up. You guessed it, Bananas! Regular consumption of banana may help protect against stomach ulcers, because the soft texture of overripe bananas help coat your stomach lining and prevent hydrochloric acid from aggravating your ulcers. Additionally, banana is also known to contain protease inhibitors that help eliminate stomach bacteria which can cause stomach ulcers (1)

It Supports Cardiovascular Health

A strong heart is vital for a long and healthy life. Adding bananas to your diet can be a really good way to make sure you heart stays in great shape for a long time. Potassium, an essential mineral for cardiovascular health especially blood pressure control, is abundant in bananas, making it an ideal dietary source.  An average-sized banana contains about 422 mg of Potassium and only 1 mg of Sodium. Also, bananas contain a decent amount of magnesium, which is also important for heart health.

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It Improves Digestive Health

How many of us know the importance of fiber? Do we know that fiber is needed to help food travel smoothly through the digestive tract and also improves our bowel movement (prevent constipation)? Well, banana is a great source of dietary fiber. A moderate-sized banana has around 3 grams of dietary fiber (2) making bananas a fairly good fiber source. Bananas contain two types of fiber – pectin, which decreases when the banana becomes ripe, and resistant starch which is found in unripe bananas. 

The resistant starch escapes digestion and once in the large intestine, it becomes food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Remember unripe bananas can actually cause constipation, so be careful.

Banana Also Aids In Weight Loss

Finding foods to fit into your weight loss diet can be challenging, but bananas make a perfect fit (yeah.) It is relatively low in calories. An average banana contains just over 100 calories, yet it is also quite filling and nutritious. Replacing candy bars and other junk foods with banana is an important step towards losing weight.

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It Fights Cancer and Improves Kidney Health

As mentioned earlier Tumor Necrosis Factor(TNF) combats abnormal cells. According to a Japanese research a fully ripe banana with black spots on it has a TNF, special nutrient that can fight cancer. Scientists believe that those dark patches, actually, are a sign of more immunity enhancement quality. The amount of TNF substance in a banana is higher when a banana is fully ripe. Furthermore, one 13-year study in women determined that those who ate bananas 2–3 times per week were 33% less likely to develop kidney disease (3). Other studies note that those who eat bananas 4–6 times a week are almost 50% less likely to develop kidney disease than those who don’t eat this fruit (45).

It May Help you to Feel More Full

Resistant starch, a type of non-digestible carbohydrate present in unripe bananas and other foods performs similarly to soluble fiber in the body. Resistant starch and pectin have been proven to possess appetite-suppressing effects and the fullness factor of meals (6) thus depending on ripeness, bananas harbor high amounts of resistant starch or pectin. It is one of the reasons why bananas rank relatively high on the satiety index of common foods (7).

It Helps Combat Stress

As funny as this may sound, it is actually true. Bananas are a good source of the Amino Acid — Tryptophan which your body converts to Serotonin. This Serotonin helps to reduce stress and improve your mood by producing a calming effect. Not only does this Serotonin reduce stress and improve your mood, it also plays a role in preserving memory. 

Side Effects of Eating Too Much Bananas

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As we always say, too much of everything is bad and it could kill! This makes excess consumption of banana not an exception. Let’s not forget that Banana contains an amino acid called tryptophan which is also found in Turkey and it’s responsible for making people sleepy at Thanksgiving. This tryptophan produces serotonin which triggers sleepiness. Someone preparing for an exam or a presentation should stay away from excess consumption of bananas.

Excess consumption also triggers the superfluous presence of some minerals and vitamins like: Potassium, Vitamin B6, Iron and Magnesium which according to med-health can lead to:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Hyperkalemia
  • Sleepiness
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Nervous Disorder

All said, bananas are awesome! They help you lose weight and keep your digestive and cardiovascular system in check. They are not just good for your physical health but also help you maintain your mental health. If you want to lead a well-rounded, happy healthy life, including bananas into your diet and reap the benefits. Hope you enjoyed reading.

…healthy foods, healthy lives.

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