Forget Apples, Eat A Banana A Day

by Sumdima Rai

One of the most popular fruits around the world, bananas are an integral part of many diets and global cuisines. However, most people aren't familiar with the plethora of health benefits of bananas. The banana is, in fact, a powerhouse of nutrients, vitamins, and fiber that does wonders to your body. Who knew?

Here are 5 great reasons to add a banana a day to your diet.

1) Promotes Healthy Eyes
Bananas are an excellent source of healthy vitamin A, which promotes good vision, particularly in low light. A 2004 study showed that eating three or more servings of fruits like banana a day could lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration by 36 percent.

2) Improves Bone Health
Bananas contain fructooligosaccharides (go ahead, say that five times fast) which is a fancy way of saying it helps in the absorption of minerals such as calcium needed for good bone health. In addition to fructooligosaccharides, bananas contain short chain of fatty acids (SCFAs) which makes them twice as efficient in strengthening bones. This happens because the body lacks enzymes to break down SCFAs, so they easily pass through the small intestine and end up getting consumed by the bacteria lining the walls of the large intestine. Therefore, the more SCFAs you feed these cells, the healthier they are, resulting in more absorption of bone-friendly nutrients.

3) Helps Relieve Diarrhea
Kind of gross, but helpful when you need it most. A study was conducted in which patients suffering from chronic diarrhea were given three different diets as treatments. The first group was treated with a diet rich in pectin, the second group with plain rice, and the third group with bananas. The results showed that 82 percent of the group fed on a banana-rich diet recovered in four days compared to other groups that took longer for recovery.

4) Can Help Prevent Cancer
A study done in Japan found that out of all fruit extracts injected into the mice, banana had the best overall health effect. It was discovered that bananas not only boosted the white blood cell count in the blood but also inhibited the growth of cancer cells by producing a powerful substance called TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor). Also, the antioxidants present in banana destroy free radicals that ravage the blood stream by producing cancerous cells and help prevent and fight cancer in its early stages.

5) Reduces Feelings Of Depression
Bananas are a good mood food, as they contain high amounts of tryptophan—an essential amino acid which is converted into 5-HTP, then converted into the good mood-inducing brain neurotransmitter called serotonin.

What's your favorite way to eat a banana? In your oatmeal, with toast and peanut butter? Share your tips below.

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