The bashing on bananas has received a lot of attention lately from the media with articles such as “eating bananas causes weight gain” to “rid bananas for a flatter stomach.” Just when you thought fruit was safe, you’re now being told one of nature’s natural candies can be a threat to your weight. Whoa. Let me start by saying that I eat a banana (or sometimes two) a day. If bananas made you fat, I’d be the poster child. So how did this simplistic fruit, grown from the earth and unprocessed, get such a bad rap in recent months? And do bananas really make you fat? No. Here’s why.
Processed Foods and Sugar
Let’s first discuss the concept of processing. The more processed a food is, the more nutrients it loses due to ridding the food of its natural state. Nutrients such as vitamins and minerals are essential for helping the body function on a day-to-day basis. So why would an unprocessed, wholesome food such as a banana be considered “bad for you?” One of the reasons for this type of logic is that bananas contain sugar, and sugar therefore makes you bloated, overweight, etc. However, the sugar is naturally occurring, meaning it won’t readily absorb; because of this, your blood sugar isn’t going to spike as it does with added sugars.
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Health Profile Of A Banana
Along with the natural sugars, the nutrient profile in bananas helps support a healthy and energized lifestyle. Everything from potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, biotin, copper and manganese can be found in a banana. The fiber in a banana is naturally occurring fiber, which means you’ll most likely feel more full and satisfied versus consuming a cereal or granola bar containing isolated fiber. Isolated fibers are those added to increase its fiber content but not naturally found in the foods. Some examples are inulin, maltodextrin, and polydextrose.
The potassium in a typical medium banana fulfills around 10 percent of the daily-recommended intake for adults. Potassium has been shown to lower blood pressure, sustain muscle mass and preserve bone-mineral density. The vitamin B6 in a banana fulfills around 30-35 percent of the daily-recommended intake for adults. The benefits of vitamin B include treating anemia, promoting healthy nervous system functioning, producing energy from food, and maintaining healthy skin, eyes, hair and liver. Vitamin B6 is found in most animal-based products, so for vegetarians and vegans, consuming a banana a day is a great way to attain almost half of the recommended intake. Clearly, the nutrients in bananas can nourish your body more than a processed bag of chips. What’s more, a new study published in The Journal of Proteome Research found that both bananas and pears greatly improve athletic performance as well as athletic recovery.
What To Be Aware Of
The only thing you need to be aware of is if you’re consuming bananas like a chimpanzee (you consume a large quantity of them daily!) then yes, you will need to be concerned about weight gain. However this goes for any food: if you consume a food in large quantities, you’re more likely going to consume more calories than you burn and possibly gain weight from that. Eating in moderation is always the key to a healthy diet! If you choose to consume bananas daily, a general guideline is to consume no more than two per day.
Delicious Ways to Incorporate Bananas Into Your Diet:
- Slice bananas and add them on top of cereal, yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, etc.
- Peel ripe bananas and freeze them in a plastic bag. Thaw them for an easy homemade banana ice cream using frozen bananas and food processor.
- Substitute for oil in baked goods
- Use ripe bananas for delicious banana bread
- Incorporate them into a yummy smoothie
- Add them to your oatmeal