Bananas are as integral to the human experience as traveling or trading—some evidence shows that we’ve been eating them since around the same time we evolved to do both, over 6,000 years ago. And though our day-to-day may look vastly different, millennia later, bananas remain a constant—and for good reason. The simple yellow fruit has a host of health benefits when you peel it back.
The positive effects bananas can have on gut health are fairly well known, but after speaking with a panel of nutrition professionals, we learned that gut health is far from the only bonus the self-contained snack has to offer. According to the experts, intentionally incorporating bananas into your diet could result in health gains in many realms. Read on to find out exactly how, and for even more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Your skin can improve.
Lisa Richards, nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet, explained that “one medium banana contains 13% of the daily manganese needs”—a fairly high percentage for such a small, easy snack.
She then went on to tell us that manganese intake can mean improved skin appearance, because “manganese is essential for making collagen, which creates a youthful appearance and protects against free radical damage that can lead to wrinkles.”
Your colon will thank you.
John Fawkes, nutritional counselor and Managing Editor at wellness site The Unwinder, pointed to a 2017 study published in Nutrition Bulletin that found that bananas have something called “resistant starch.” While starch may sound like a negative—generally, something we try to avoid over-consuming, this resistant starch actually “helps generate the production of short-chain fatty acids,” according to Fawkes.
He explained that short-chain fatty acids “play a vital role in colon health,” so the more you generate, the healthier your colon will be.”
You can avoid muscle cramps.
We’d heard this rumor before, and so we were psyched when Richards confirmed it.
“Bananas contain essential electrolytes that can help keep the body hydrated and balanced,” she says. “When the body gets out of balance related to our minerals, we can begin experiencing negative side effects like muscle cramps.”
Meaning, essentially, that all those years of eating bananas on the sidelines of high school games were not in vain.
Along with bananas, here are 21 High Potassium Foods That Keep Your Muscles Healthy and Strong.
They can balance out the salt you’re eating.
Celine Beitchman, Director of Nutrition at the Institute of Culinary Education, explained that the potassium levels bananas are known for are crucial for overall dietary health, especially if you’re loading up on salt in other areas.
“Bananas are a rich source of potassium, which is an essential nutrient that helps combat the negative effects of sodium,” she explained. Dr. Chun Tang from Pall Mall Medical underscored the benefits of potassium, adding that “having a good level of potassium in your diet is great for your heart health and blood pressure, helping to reduce the risk of strokes and heart disease.”
They can help you lose weight.
According to Mary Wirtz, MS, RDN, CSSD, “bananas have a notorious reputation for being high in sugar and high in calories compared to other fruits.”
But, despite this seemingly negative reputation, the fruit can actually help with weight control, “due to the fiber and antioxidant content.”
Danielle Drapeau, founder of Shaping Young Tastebuds and Certified Health Coach, backed this up. “Bananas are high in fiber which slows down digestion to make you feel full longer (hello appetite control!) and will normalize your bowel movements,” she said. “This makes a banana the perfect thing to grab when you are in between meals!”
Get even more healthy tips straight to your inbox by signing up for our newsletter. Then, read these next:
- 5 Ways To Eat Bananas for a Flat Belly, According to Science
- 6 Ways Bananas Melt Belly Fat, Say Dietitians
- We Just Discovered The Easiest Hack for Eating Bananas