Banana is a simple looking fruit but is a veritable storehouse of nutrition. It grows in warm regions like tropical islands and South East Asia, but is consumed almost all over the world. There are many different varieties of bananas; you can get them in different shades of green and yellow, and some are even reddish in color – and of course, different sizes. The textures also differ, as does the taste.
This is the average nutrient content in a single banana of 100 grams (there may be slight differences according to the variety)
- 899 calories
- 75% water content
- 22.8 grams carbohydrates
- 12.2 grams of sugar
- 2.6 grams of fiber
- 0.3 grams of fat
Bananas are an excellent source of carbohydrates; in unripe bananas, they are present as starch, and in ripe ones, as sugars. That is, the composition of the carbs undergoes a transformation when the bananas ripen; fully ripe bananas may contain only 1% of starch, and around 16% sugars. The glycemic index is very low – about 42 to 58, based on how ripe they are. This index shows how soon the carbohydrates n your food enters your bloodstream and elevate blood glucose levels. The GI of bananas is low because they contain plenty of fiber and resistant starch.
Unripe bananas contain huge amounts of resistant starch; this means it doesn’t get digested easily, and passes through your intestine as is. When it reaches the large intestine, bacteria ferment this starch to form a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate, which is beneficial for your intestinal health. They also contain pectin – another fiber; some of this is soluble in water, and it increases when the bananas ripen. Resistant starch and pectin help to regulate the spike in blood sugar levels after eating food.
Bananas are a rich source of potassium, important for cardiovascular health; it promotes healthy heart function and helps to regulate blood pressure. A single banana can contain over 400 mg of potassium, so including bananas in your meal can help prevent atherosclerosis and hypertension.
Bananas contain small amounts of sterols, a type of fat; they can help prevent absorption of dietary cholesterol, and regulate cholesterol levels, promoting healthy heart function, protecting kidneys, and your liver as well.
Vitamins B6 and C are present in bananas, along with the minerals, helps provide energy. This makes bananas a very popular food among athletes and endurance trainers.
Bananas contain a number of vitamins and minerals in decent amounts. These include potassium and vitamins B6 and C. the potassium content prevents muscle cramps – something endurance athletes are susceptible to. Vitamin C helps boost immunity and promotes cell repair, increasing overall health.
Bananas contain dopamine, which is an essential neurotransmitter in the brain; the dopamine in bananas act more as an antioxidant, helping to minimize inflammation and delay ageing. Antioxidant flavonoids like catechin may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Bananas are mainly used as a digestive aid, for promoting heart health, and providing energy – and also as a healthy dessert for diabetics. However, diabetics should consume them in moderation.