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Health Food of the month - Bananas

September 2018


bananas

Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Gooseberries

Grains

Tea


 

Diet & Supplements Index

It can be a good idea to go bananas!

Bananas are so easy to eat, and taste so sweet and lovely, that not everyone realises they are also a serious health food.

But they are! Bananas offer a huge range of benefits for every age group.

One of the key benefits from bananas is their high levels of potassium. Potassium is a natural mineral that plays a vital part in our wellbeing. It helps to maintain fluid levels in our body and also helps to regulate the flow of nutrients and waste products to and from our cells. It also helps muscles to operate properly and nerve cells to respond. Importantly, the potassium in banana can help the heart to beat regularly and reduce the effect of sodium on blood pressure.

A medium sized banana will contain around 400 milligrams of potassium. Baked potatoes are another great source of potassium...but unless you smother them with a sauce they certainly aren’t as tasty!

Along with potassium, a medium bananas will also offer 34 mg of magnesium. This essential mineral is used in over 300 chemical reactions in the body. Stored in our bones and organs, one of its primary functions is to help keep muscles and nerves healthy. While you can find it in many foods, magnesium deficiency is extremely common. Plus, as we age, we need more. For our over 50 age group, the recommended daily allowance for men is over 400 mg a day and for women 300 mg a day. Other good sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, mackerel and spinach. But bananas are a great easy to eat boost for magnesium levels.

At lower levels bananas also offer a great range of useful vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C and niacin.

Many people recommend eating a banana thanks to its high fibre content...a medium banana will contain around 3 g of fibre. There are various suggested levels for health fibre intake, the American Institute of Medicine suggest men need 38 grams and women 25 grams of fibre a day, yet in fact an average adult only eats about 15 grams of fibre a day. Reaching for a banana is a quick and tasty way to boost your fibre intake.

As with so many natural health foods, there can be a downside for us as we age. If you are on beta blockers, then a sudden lift in potassium levels from eating extra bananas can be dangerous. Beta-blockers can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood and this can be especially harmful if the kidneys are not fully functional.

But generally bananas are a great health food, easy to buy, easy to keep and easy to eat. If only all the foods that were good for us were this easy!

For more information on bananas, the UK has an excellent site called Banana Link which has an aim to help fair and sustainable trade in bananas.


 


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