Everyone loves a banana split on a hot summer day, but many of us reserve bananas as a rare treat rather than a daily indulgence. Creamy and sweet, it’s easy to forget that they are a vitamin-dense food full of nutrients you need to stay healthy and strong.
Perhaps it’s time to partake in these yellow superfoods more often — just keep the hot fudge for special occasions!
Bananas contain a slew of healthy essentials. They can shorten recovery time after exercise and stave off hunger pangs. At around a hundred calories a pop, you really get a lot of bang for your buck: B6, manganese, vitamin C, and copper, not to mention the fiber and potassium we all know and love.
Manganese is one of the less glamorous minerals on the nutrition label of mineral supplements. Usually listed way down at the bottom, it’s no wonder we tend to forget that we need it. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, bananas are one of the best sources of manganese.
Manganese helps to encourage wound healing and jumpstarts your metabolism, so bananas make an ideal post-workout snack. Some of the institute’s research also suggests that people who regularly consume food with manganese have lower rates of stroke, heart attack, osteoporosis, and other ailments that we’re all motivated to avoid.
Bananas are also rich in vitamin B6, a crucial element of any healthy diet. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that adults try to get about a milligram and a half of B6 each day. A banana can give you about a third of that in one fell swoop.
The absorption rate of B6 in dietary supplements doesn’t come close to that of food-based B6. Noshing on a banana once a day can reduce your rates of certain kinds of cancer and improve cognitive function. For women, B6 may reduce premenstrual syndrome symptoms. It also significantly reduces morning sickness during pregnancy.
Vitamins in the B family can be tough to get if you’re a vegetarian, so look to bananas to help bridge the gap if you abstain from animal products.
You only need a smidge of dietary copper to get your recommended daily allotment, and bananas put you well on the way to achieving that goal. Copper pairs with iron to help stimulate red blood cell development. Bananas are one of several foods that are good sources of copper.
Oranges and other citrus get all the attention for being great sources of vitamin C, but bananas are chock full of it, too. A medium-sized fruit has about 15 percent of your daily requirements, so just one at breakfast puts you well on the way to getting enough vitamin C for the day.
Vitamin C boosts immunity to colds, reduces inflammation, and slows the aging of skin. So don’t skimp. New research coming out of University of Kansas shows that vitamin C can even kill cancer cells.
It’s easy to make a banana part of your everyday routine without getting bored. Bananas are delicious on their own, but they’re also great sliced up on cereal, or dipped in chocolate or peanut butter. You could also add them to smoothies or slice them on top of breakfast favorites like French toast and pancakes. If you’re vegan or want to watch your cholesterol, you can also substitute a medium, ripe banana for an egg in most sweet baked goods.
Packed with nutrients and enjoyable in so many easy ways, bananas are an easy sell for any diet. At about 20 cents each, you won’t get a better deal for your wallet or your health, so pick up a ripe bunch at the grocery on your next trip.