The humble banana is a firm favorite in kitchens around the world. Particularly in the U.S., people can’t get enough of this vibrant fruit. According to The Packer’s 2019 Fresh Trends survey, bananas stand toe to toe with apples as the most popular fruit in America (per the PMA). Being beloved by kids and adults alike, it’s hard to see them falling out of fashion any time soon.
This is partly due to their versatility. Between delicious uses in breads, pancakes, and smoothies (or, for the more adventurous, sushi or curry), bananas are an ingredient that’s easy to include in almost any sweet treat and get into your diet. And that’s good news, as they’re not only delicious but eating them daily could provide some pretty serious health benefits.
But even though we’re constantly advised to eat enough fruits and vegetables every day, you might have some questions about what eating bananas, in particular, could actually do for your health. Keep your eyes peeled (sorry, couldn’t resist!) and take a look at all things banana below.
You could see some benefits to your mouth and gum health
With their soft texture, your teeth won’t have to work too hard to break apart bananas. But what’s surprising is that eating a banana every day could be great for your mouth and gum health.
This is thanks to the vitamin C found in the fruit. Although we commonly associate vitamin C with citrus fruits like oranges or lemons, bananas can also deliver a good amount of it per serving. According to WebMD, bananas contain about 10 milligrams of our daily recommended vitamin C intake of 75 to 90 milligrams.
Along with vitamin C’s ability to help us protect our immune system and fight against free radicals, studies such as one published in BDJ Open have found that diets higher in fruit intake have had a positive effect on periodontal (or gum) status, helping to keep gum disease and inflammation at bay. As the study states, “Vitamin C appears to associate positively with periodontal health.” And with a large proportion of the study’s participants eating more bananas and seeing positive effects, it may be worth having one as a daily snack to keep your mouth in good health.
Your bones could be protected from long-term conditions like osteoporosis
It’s sometimes easy to forget that our bones are always growing and changing. As Dr. Chad Deal, a rheumatologist and head of the Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease, told the Cleveland Clinic, “Your skeleton is completely new every 10 years.” And what we eat affects its health and structure.
So it’s good to know that eating a daily banana could contribute hugely to bone health, particularly in the long run. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, which can play a large role in protecting our bones from osteoporosis, a condition that causes our bones to become more porous and therefore easier to break. With approximately half of women and up to a quarter of men over 50 experiencing a broken bone due to osteoporosis, it’s a common issue among seniors (via National Osteoporosis Foundation).
According to WebMD, potassium-rich foods can help our bodies preserve calcium, an essential mineral for bone health that can be eroded through a diet too high in salt and sodium. A banana a day could be just the ticket for this, in combination with a diet that focuses on less sodium intake.
You’ll get plenty of potassium
Bananas aren’t just prized for their unique and delicious taste. They’re also one of the best fruit sources of potassium, an essential mineral and electrolyte used by our bodies for a range of functions.
According to Medical News Today, one medium banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium, around 9 percent of the amount an average adult needs daily. Having adequate levels of potassium in your system helps your body keep blood pressure down, maintain fluid levels, and reduce your risk of kidney stones. As Dr. Russell Rosenberg, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation, said of bananas to ABC News: “They’re overall health promoters. We need potassium for cardiovascular health and cognitive functioning.”
It’s important to remember, though, that you can have too much of a good thing. Excess potassium in the diet can cause a few unpleasant effects, including nausea, muscle cramps or pains, and chest pains, according to the American Kidney Fund. In the most extreme cases, excess potassium can even cause a heart attack — so always keep an eye on your intake, and remember to strive for balance in your diet.
You may sleep a little sounder
If you find it harder to drop off at night, you might find that a daily banana could help you sleep easier. According to the National Sleep Foundation, our diets play a powerful role in our sleep health, with certain foods helping or inhibiting the quality of our shut-eye. Bananas, thankfully, play a positive role for sleep, and for a few reasons.
Keri Gans, a registered dietitian in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet, revealed in an article for Health that bananas are beneficial for sleep due to containing the muscle-relaxants magnesium and potassium, both of which help us to relax and fall asleep at the end of a long day. In addition, the carb-heavy nature of bananas can also help us feel sleepier after eating them.
Bananas also have another ace up their sleep-inducing sleeve: tryptophan. Tryptophan, as WebMD wrote, is an amino acid that helps produce melatonin, a hormone which encourages healthy sleep. Bananas deliver a good dose of tryptophan in the diet, which also has positive effects on mood and mental health. Not bad for a humble fruit!
Eating a banana every day could help you lose some weight
Although common knowledge dictates that a diet higher in fruit and vegetables as opposed to high-calorie processed foods is better for the waistline, bananas are particularly great for weight loss.
As Erin Palinski-Wade, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator and author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies says, bananas can help with weight loss and feeling fuller after eating due to their composition, particularly when they’re not too mushy. Speaking to The Healthy, she stated, “Rich in fiber, slightly green bananas contain a source of resistant starch which is slower digested, promoting fullness.” Resistant starch not only has fewer calories per gram than regular starch, per Healthline, but it can also help to reduce appetite, helping people control excess eating.
In addition, bananas’ high fiber content can help to keep your weight down. As Harvard Health Blog states, adding more fiber to your diet can promote weight loss, as shown by a study which examined the effects on extra dietary fiber on overall weight. As such, a daily banana could be a useful weapon in your weight loss arsenal.
Your gut health could improve
Bananas are commonly recommended for when we have an upset stomach, as they are easier to digest and can ease stomach pain (via Self). Bananas could also have some pretty amazing benefits to your overall gut health if you eat them daily.
According to BBC Good Food, the starch in bananas acts as a prebiotic, supplying your healthy gut bacteria with fuel. In doing this, an environment is created in which they can reproduce and thrive, making your gut healthier. A healthy gut doesn’t just mean a calmer tummy. As WebMD states, gut health has a huge effect on the rest of the body, supporting the kidneys, heart, and immune system.
And if you’re finding yourself a little on the bloated side, a banana a day can help with that too. A study published in Anaerobe, which followed 34 women eating two bananas a day, found that the participants suffered from significantly less symptoms of bloating. Although it’s worth remembering that this study only had a small group taking part, it appears to show that bananas can keep excess gas at bay.
You’ll have loads more energy
Bananas are not only convenient as a snack because they’re ready-wrapped, they’re also convenient because they deliver a substantial, quick dose of energy. And unlike some sources, they provide energy which sustains, making it a great choice for athletes or just anyone looking to get through the day.
According to Medical News Today, bananas are particularly excellent as an energy source due to their combination of natural sugars and fiber. The natural sugars in bananas help to provide the body with a quick boost of energy, while the high fiber content helps to keep the digestion of that sugar slow. This means that the body burns through it at a more sustained pace, as opposed to something high in sugar but low in fiber, which causes fast energy that dissipates quickly.
Bananas are so efficient that a study published in PLoS One found that they provided the same level of energy to long-distance cyclists as carbohydrate-based energy drinks specifically designed for sports performance, both before exercise and during recovery. So next time you’re lacing up your sneakers, save your money and buy a banana instead of a pricey commercial drink — it’ll do the same thing.
Your lung health could improve
Associating lung health with our diets isn’t usually the first or most natural link, but what we eat can have a strong effect on our lung function. A daily banana can help to support your lung health, largely due to the high potassium levels present in the fruit.
As Lisa Richards, nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet, told Eat This, Not That, potassium is “essential” to keep our lungs healthy and functioning correctly. “Consuming enough potassium, specifically as a child, helps to increase lung function and capacity,” the publication further explained, referencing a study on the matter.
Bananas could also be beneficial for those who have chronic lung conditions. According to one study, which looked at the effects of diet on those living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it was found that individuals eating healthier diets, including bananas, had overall fewer symptoms and better lung function (via WebMD). Although eating bananas alone won’t necessarily cause a huge difference, bananas as part of a varied and nutritious diet, and as a great source of potassium, could help.
You may help to protect your liver
Your liver sees a lot of action. As the organ that cleans your blood of toxins, it’s pretty busy — and it’s essential we support it through our diets. Luckily, a daily banana could be your liver’s best friend.
According to Liver Support, bananas can help to support the liver for a few key reasons. The high potassium content of bananas contributes to the maintenance of fluid levels and promotes healthy movement of nutrients and waste byproducts through cells, supporting the liver in its function. The resistant starch and fiber content of bananas can also help to moderate blood sugar and cholesterol, which can both, in high levels, mean trouble for your liver.
Bananas could also be beneficial for those who already have liver damage, and the potassium in bananas can help to prevent it. Low levels of potassium can hasten development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to WebMD, whereas eating a diet rich in potassium can help to boost liver health. As with any aspect of dietary health, no one food will cure you if an organ is having trouble, but including bananas in your diet isn’t a bad place to start.
Your blood pressure may improve
According to the CDC, almost half of all adults in the U.S. have hypertension (high blood pressure), and with increased blood pressure leading to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke, it can be a serious problem.
If you’re concerned about your blood pressure, know that eating a banana daily could help you tackle it. As Medical News Today states, bananas could be instrumental in bringing blood pressure down due to their levels of potassium. Potassium can reduce the effects of sodium on blood pressure, which can raise it by causing the blood vessels to stiffen and narrow, meaning that blood has to work harder to get around the body (via Cleveland Clinic).
Potassium reduces this stiffness and tension, helping blood to move easier. As such, if your blood pressure is a little on the high side, catch it before it’s too late — and grab a banana as a snack.
If you’re eating a daily banana after a workout, you can expect to recover faster
Look, we get it. After working out, you might be craving something a little more, let’s say, indulgent, than a banana. But trust us on this one: If you time your daily banana to come after your workout, you could see your recovery improve.
According to a Greatist article reviewed by certified personal trainer Daniel Bubnis, bananas hold a few key benefits that make them a great post-workout snack. The carb-heavy nature of bananas helps to produce insulin, which then helps move the sugar in your blood to your muscles where it’s stored as glycogen, and which is used during exercise. This helps your muscles get ready for your next workout session faster.
The potassium in bananas also helps prevent your muscles from cramping after working out and helps keep your electrolyte balance healthy (there’s a reason why potassium is always pumped into sports drinks!). So next time you hit it hard in the gym, take a banana with you, and get ready to see those sweet gains.
Eating a banana daily could help your brain function
Our brain health is directly affected by our diets, and a nutritious and wide-ranging diet rich in vitamin-loaded fruits and vegetables can help our brains function correctly (via Healthbeat). Bananas can contribute to this healthy function massively, particularly due to their excellent levels of vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 is hugely important for our health in many ways, helping with everything from eye health to the prevention of cancer, per Healthline, but some of the more brain-specific ways in which it can help us is its role in positive mood regulation and the improving of brain function. In the longer term, vitamin B6 could also help to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, although research is still mixed on this.
This is good news for banana lovers: According to My Food Data, bananas are one of the best sources of vitamin B6 out there, with one cup of sliced bananas providing 32 percent of the average adult’s daily requirement.
You could be protecting your kidneys from cancer
The mighty kidneys help to filter the waste from your blood and your body. With such an essential function, looking after them is top priority, and a daily banana can help with this in some pretty huge ways.
Most notably, eating a banana every day could help to reduce your risk of developing kidney cancer. A large-scale study published in the International Journal of Cancer looked at the frequency of developing renal cell carcinoma, a type of kidney cancer, and examined the link between diets high in fruit and vegetables and the disease. The study found that among all the foods eaten, the women eating four to six bananas a week had the lowest risk of developing the cancer.
While this is great news for people who don’t currently have kidney conditions, if you’re currently undergoing treatment for kidney cancer it’s important to be watchful of your banana consumption. As Kidney Cancer UK explained, eating bananas with kidney cancer is generally safe, but eating too many can elevate your potassium levels, which can be dangerous if undergoing treatment. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet.