Health Benefits of Bananas

Apples have a reputation for keeping doctor visits to a minimum, but bananas are also an excellent choice for good health. At around 100 calories per medium banana, the fruit is perfectly portioned for maintaining a healthy weight. They’re also a good choice for anyone who has concerns about pesticides; whether they’re organically or conventionally grown, bananas’ sturdy peels protect the soft, sweet fruit inside from exposure.

Nutritionally speaking, the banana is a potassium powerhouse. Potassium, a mineral that helps regulate muscle movement and maintain cardiac function, is naturally abundant in bananas at 450 mg per medium fruit. Athletes who are prone to muscle cramps often include bananas as a snack after a session at the gym to stave off tightness and alleviate post-workout pain. Because the fruit also helps restore electrolyte balance, it’s a favorite for people who are recovering from a strenuous workout or dehydration.

Bananas pack a potent vitamin punch too. Vitamin B6 occurs naturally in poultry, liver, fish and some vegetables, but it’s not as common in fruit. A single banana provides 20 percent of your daily recommended intake of B6, an essential nutrient for healthy digestion and nutritional absorption. Getting enough vitamin B6 is crucial for everyone, but for people who don’t eat poultry, fish and organ meats, bananas are a prime source of the nutrient. As any parent knows, getting nutrition into kids who are picky eaters can be a challenge, but most kids love the sweetness and creamy texture of bananas.

You might think of vitamin C as synonymous with citrus fruits, but bananas are also a good source of the nutrient. This antioxidant helps your skin repair itself, speeds wound healing and bolsters the immune system. Although not as rich in vitamin C as citrus fruits, bell peppers and tomatoes, bananas do provide about 17 percent of an adult’s recommended intake.

Although fiber isn’t technically a nutrient because your body doesn’t digest it, it plays a key role in health. A medium banana contributes about 12 percent of your daily fiber needs. Fiber is essential for maintaining good digestive health, and research has shown a potential link between a high-fiber diet and lower colon cancer rates. Because it occupies space without calories, fiber can also help dieters reach and maintain a healthy weight. Slicing a banana to accompany your whole-grain breakfast cereal is a flavorful way to incorporate more fiber in your meals.

Portable, potassium-rich and tasty enough to feel like a treat, bananas may be nature’s ideal snack food. Enjoy the health benefits of bananas (and apples!) by enjoying That’s it fruit bars, and discover why they have such lasting appeal.

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