Very popular in France, the banana is today the second most consumed fruit after the apple. Indeed, each year, “we consume an average of 500,000 tonnes of bananas per year, i.e. 8 to 10 kilos per inhabitantall ages combined”, writes the biochemist Isabelle Brette in her book “Discover the virtues of the banana” published by Alpen. According to recent surveys, 40% of French people even say they cannot do without it.
Very nutritious, the banana is one of the fruits that provide the most energy. It is also rich in carbohydrates, vitamins, fiber and minerals, which makes it an essential health asset.
Banana protects your heart
Rich in potassium, the banana could protect your heart according to a study published in the journal JC Insight. Indeed, researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the United States have shown thata diet low in potassium would promote calcification and stiffness of the arteries. To arrive at these results, the scientists divided mice into three groups. They were then fed with a diet more or less rich in potassium. As a result, those who were on the potassium-deficient diet had more calcifications in the arteries. Conversely, mice whose diet was higher in potassium had less calcified arteries.
As a reminder, daily potassium requirements are estimated at 3.5 grams (minimum) according to health authorities. “Generally, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides adequate amounts of potassium, whereas fatty substances contain very little”, writes Isabelle Brette in her book. But according to the Ciqual food composition table, “with a content of 385 mg of potassium per 100 g, bananas are among the fruits richest in potassium.”
Bananas reduce high blood pressure and risk of stroke
In her book, Isabelle Brette also highlights several studies that show thatlow potassium intake may increase risk of hypertension. “Raising potassium is as important as a low-salt diet in managing hypertension,” she says. “When potassium intake is high, the body secretes more sodium and water. In contrast, when potassium intake is low, the body retains more sodium, which can raise blood pressure. In short, a diet rich in potassium acts as a diuretic”, summarizes an American researcher.
It is the same as bananas would help reduce the risk of cardiovascular accidents. For good reason, arterial hypertension is responsible for more than half of cardiovascular diseases and more than half of strokes. This is also demonstrated by researchers from the nutrition department of the World Health Organization (WHO). Indeed, according to them, Eating a banana a day could reduce the risk of stroke by 24%.
Bananas prevent certain cancers
Bananas are said to have the ability to prevent certain types of cancer thanks to their antioxidant and fiber content. This is particularly the case with kidney cancer. Indeed, to support her remarks, the author takes as an example a prospective study carried out among 61,000 Swiss women aged 40 to 76 years. According to the results of this, the heaviest banana consumers would have the lowest risk of developing the disease. According to the hypothesis put forward by the researchers, it is the antioxidants present in bananas that are at the origin of this protective action, and more particularly dopamine, which is very present in bananas.
Banana consumption may also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer according to a study conducted in Uruguay. “Fruits and vegetables would, thanks to their high content of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, reduce the risk of this colorectal cancer,” says Isabelle Brette.
Don’t throw away your overripe bananas
Admittedly less appetizing, when the banana is covered with black spots and reaches the final stage of ripening, it could become an anti-cancer agent. “When very ripe, the banana produces a substance called TNF-alfa (tumor necrosis factor). It plays an essential role in the fight against cancer thanks to its ability to fight against abnormal cells, according to research carried out by Japanese researchers”, reveals Isabelle Brette. “This substance would, according to them, increase the powers of the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells. So the more dark spots there are, the higher the immune and anti-cancer power will be.”
Eating bananas regularly is good for your brain
Among these many benefits, banana is one of the foods capable of boosting our intellectual performance. This is thanks to its high magnesium content, essential for the transmission of nerve impulses. This fruit is also a great source of vitamin B6, which has a specific role in the functioning of the central nervous system. Indeed, it allows in particular the production of certain neurotransmitters, “such as serotonin GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid),… which has a certain impact on our mood”, writes the author in her book.
As a reminder, vitamins, and more particularly those of group B, are essential for the proper functioning of the brain. “It has been shown that during the learning period, cerebral energy metabolism is considerably increased. The syntheses of proteins and neuromediators increase, which requires increasing the vitamin intake accordingly. By eating fruit, a banana for example…”, advises Isabelle Brette.