Bananas often get a bad reputation due to their carbohydrate content. However, bananas are full of nutrition and health benefits, and carbohydrates are an important source of fuel for our bodies. Bananas are a good source of potassium, fiber, carbohydrates, B6, manganese, vitamin C, biotin, and copper. They are also full of antioxidants which have been shown to decrease the risk of some diseases.
Bananas are high in potassium and low in sodium, which is an ideal combination for managing blood pressure. A banana peel serves as a convenient carrying case making a banana an ideal on the go snack. One medium banana contains 26.96 grams of carbohydrates. When we eat carbohydrates such as bananas before we exercise, our bodies store the glucose we are not currently using. As our blood sugar levels fall, the glycogen releases more glucose into our blood to keep our energy levels up. A 2012 study showed that bananas offered more nutritional benefits to competitive cyclists when compared to sports drinks.
Bananas are a good source of fiber with 3 grams of fiber per medium banana. Studies have linked fiber to a decreased risk of heart disease, and obesity in addition to improved digestive health. Some of the fiber in bananas comes from pectins which in addition to aiding in improved digestive health have been shown to lower cholesterol levels.
Bananas also contain fructooligosaccharides, which are a source of prebiotics. Prebiotics promote good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract which supports good digestive health.
Bananas are easy to add into your diet. A banana peel serves as a convenient carrying case making a banana an ideal on the go snack With such a great nutrition profile, why not try the following suggestions:
Add them into your oatmeal, cereal or yogurt. Adding bananas sweetens plain yogurt, oatmeal and cereal so that you don’t have to add additional sugar.
Use them in smoothies. I like to put ripe bananas in the freezer to take one out to add to my smoothies.
Use them in place of oil or butter in baking recipes. This substitution will lower the calorie and fat content of your favorite recipes while increasing the fiber of your recipe.
Slice on top of peanut butter in sandwiches instead of jelly.
Enjoy a banana or apple topped with peanut butter or with a handful of almonds as a snack.
Enjoy one on it’s own as a snack.
Linzy Ziegelbaum, MS, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and owner of the private practice LNZnutrition LLC. She provides nutrition counseling and education to clients of all ages with many nutrition needs. Linzy enjoys sharing her love and nutrition expertise with others through counseling, her LNZnutrition blog and social media pages, including Facebook and Instagram.
Main Photo Credit: Paulo Vilela/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Brent Hofacker/shutterstock.com