You will never look at a banana the same way again after discovering the many health benefits and reasons to add them to your diet.

We live in a fast paced world and everything is about fast foods. For some it is almost impossible to whip up something when they are already late and have to beat traffic. However, there is good news; banana, like many fruits, is already cooked, saves time and, of course, they are everywhere.

Wonderfully sweet with firm and creamy flesh, bananas come prepackaged in their own yellow jackets and are available for harvest throughout the year. They could not be more convenient to enjoy, and they are a good source of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber.

Adding a banana to your daily diet has an array of benefits in your body. Bananas help you reach your weight-loss goals, keep your bowels healthy, provide nutrients that regulate heart rhythm and have vitamin compounds for eye health. Add sliced banana to your morning cereal or oatmeal, or take a banana with you on your way to work or school for a healthy, portable snack. Keep a bunch of bananas on your desk at work and replenish your stock each week. You will be more likely to reach for a healthy banana – instead of going to buy a drink – if you have a bunch sitting in front of you.

Like apple sauce, ripe mashed bananas can be used in baked goods to replace oil or butter. Mashed bananas lend a moist, naturally sweet flavor to muffins, cookies and cakes. For a great dessert, freeze bananas for a great addition to any smoothie.

Now consider these awesome benefits and some reasons why you should absolutely love banana:

  1. Bananas help overcome depression due to high levels of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin — the happy-mood brain neurotransmitter.
  2. Eat two bananas before a strenuous workout to pack an energy punch and sustain your blood sugar.
  3. Bananas reduce swelling, aid weight loss, strengthen the nervous system, and help with the production of white blood cells, all due to high levels of vitamin B-6.
  4. Strengthen your blood and relieve anemia with the added iron from bananas.

High in potassium and low in salt, bananas are officially recognized as being able to lower blood pressure and protect against heart attack and stroke. High potassium intakes are also associated with protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.

Blood pressure: Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure, however increasing potassium intake may be just as important because of its vasodilation effects.

Asthma: A study conducted by the Imperial College of London found that children who ate just one banana per day had a 34% less chance of developing asthma.

Cancer: Consuming bananas, oranges and orange juice in the first two years of life may reduce the risk of developing childhood leukemia. As a good source of vitamin C, bananas can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. High fiber intakes from fruits and vegetables like bananas are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.

Risks and precautions

Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. High potassium foods such as bananas should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.

Consuming too much potassium can be harmful for those whose kidneys are not fully functional. If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal.

Fresh bananas are available year-round. Unlike other fruits, the ripening process of bananas does not slow down after they are picked. Bananas should be stored at room temperature. The warmer the temperature, the faster bananas will ripen. However, to slow ripening, bananas should be refrigerated. The outer peel of the banana will darken but the banana itself will stay intact longer.

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