Archive for the tag - banana

Are Bananas a Superfood?

banana-A superfood is a term used to describe a food with a high nutritional content and associated health benefits. So do bananas make the cut?

When it comes to nutrition, bananas are packed with 400 - 600 milligrams of potassium. With just over thirty carbohydrates, a multitude of vitamins and minerals, about 120 calories and a few grams of both protein and fiber, bananas are certainly nutritionally-dense. In fact, because of the carbohydrates, bananas are a great pre-workout snack that will give you an extra boost at the gym.

But the benefits of bananas don’t stop there.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of health benefits and claims associated with bananas:

  1. Treat anemia
  2. Lower blood pressure
  3. Reduced risk of some cancers
  4. Alleviate bowel issues and constipation
  5. Increase energy levels
  6. Boost brain functioning
  7. Fight depression
  8. Relieve heartburn
  9. Lessen hangovers
  10. Decrease morning sickness
  11. Calm nerves
  12. Lessen seasonal affective disorder
  13. Reduce stress
  14. Prevents weakening of the bones

Beyond these benefits, many cultures hold bananas to be sacred. For some Hindus, the banana can be associated with fertility (maybe because they’re quite phallic?) and prosperity. In India, the banana flower is considered to be a sign of good luck - and it’s often tied to the head during important ceremonies.

For the rest of us, bananas are an inexpensive, portable and nutritious treat that’s widely available all year long. Spread on some peanut butter (or use them for a healthy cookie recipe base) and you’re good to good!

Bananas: Better Than Sports Drinks.

A new study supports something that I’ve suspected for years: When it comes to supporting energy and endurance in exercisers, bananas are a real powerhouse.

Through a recent study, researchers at Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab compared bananas to carbohydrate sports drinks. In the study, cyclists were given either a cup of sports drink or half a banana every 15 minutes during a simulated road race test that lasted 2.5 - 3 hours. Before and after the study, blood samples were taken for analysis.

According to Dr. David Nieman, the lab’s director:

We found that not only was performance the same whether bananas or sports drinks were consumed, there were several advantages to consuming bananas.

Like the sports drinks, bananas are rich in carbohydrates. These carbs are used by the body as fuel to power through a workout. But bananas are also rich in other nutrients - like potassium and vitamin B6. And beyond being easy to carry and transport, bananas are a good source of antioxidants and fiber. They’re also significantly less expensive than sports drinks.

For a lot of people (myself included), the idea of conventional drinking sports drinks - with their long list of artificial ingredients and dyes - isn’t appealing. So it’s great to know that there are natural alternatives like bananas. In fact, it’s why I eat one each morning before my workout.

P.S. Coconut water is nature’s sports drink and another great alternative.

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