We wanted to start our blog off with an ingredient in our smoothies you will see fairly often: Bananas. Bananas always get the reputation of being great for potassium, which they are. However, there are so many more health benefits than saving yourself some muscle cramps with that potassium!
Because potassium is what the banana is known for, let's start with it. A medium-sized banana contains around 400 mg of potassium. But what is potassium good for? Potassium is great for nerve and muscle function (hence the muscle cramp prevention). The Department of Agriculture recommends a daily intake of 4,700 mg of this mineral. Increasing potassium and lowering sodium intakes, in addition to other lifestyle changes (such as increasing physical activity), can help in reducing blood pressure naturally.
Bananas are naturally cholesterol and fat free. They also contain 10 mg of vitamin C, which is approximately 15% of the daily recommended intake! Vitamin B6 is typically found in animal-based foods; however, bananas shockingly contain almost 36% of the daily recommended value of B6. Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, prevents anemia and is used to treat high cholesterol and heart disease. Pyridoxine is used in the medical field for many additional benefits ranging from treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and Alzheimer's to boosting the immune system to fight infections such as bladder infections.
Manganese, which is needed for bone health and metabolism, is also found in bananas, with a medium-sized banana containing approximately 0.3 mg. Adults need between 1.8 and 2.3 mg of manganese each day. Bananas also contain approximately 3 grams fiber, a nutrient that most Americans lack. Fiber is an important nutrient to promote intestinal regularity as well as to aid in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Not only do bananas contain significant amounts of the vitamins and nutrients above, but they also contain smaller traces of iron, vitamins A and E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, carotene, choline, amino acids, and carbohydrates. This fruit is packed with loads of benefits in an easy-to-digest package that tastes delicious! Bananas can also help satisfy that sweet tooth without wrecking your diet.
That being said, too much of a good thing can be bad. Bananas, like many fruits, contain natural sugars, therefore, it is important to maintain good dental hygiene when eating bananas. These sugars can also spike blood sugar and insulin levels, though nowhere nearly as high or quickly as baked goods containing refined sugars. It is still important to mind the glycemic index of this fruit, especially if you have health conditions that may be affected by the spikes it can cause. Bananas also contain approximately 130 calories. While that is still lower than scarfing down a bag of potato chips, it is almost three times the amount of a cup of diced watermelon and six times the amount of a three-cup spinach salad sans dressing.
Overall, the health benefits significantly outweigh the cons of bananas. Remember before you go too bananas with this fruit, always consult with your doctor and/or dietician to take into consideration any special dietary concerns. We don't monkey around - we use bananas to enhance the sweetness of some of our smoothies rather than using refined sugars, juices, or purees. Whole foods are best, so enjoy a smoothie with a banana to gain all of the great benefits this amazing fruits has to offer!