What is it about bananas that I find so “appealing?” Actually, it’s lots of things!
Every single infinitesimally tiny cell in our bodies requires potassium to operate correctly. So it’s no surprise that countless studies support the health benefits of increased potassium intake. And it’s hard to find a more enjoyable fix for low potassium than a banana.
The 422 mg of potassium in a medium-sized banana outweighs what you’d get from a cup of:
- cow’s milk
or the other non-alcoholic beverages that comprise America’s current go-to potassium sources.
Every once in a while, a Fruitive customer asks me to leave the bananas out of their smoothie. Because I aim to please, I’ll always help find a satisfactory alternative. But having this fruit considered a second-rate ingredient still saddens me.
Bananas may seem to be the boring berry clan members (yes, they’re berries!). They aren’t blessed with the antioxidant power of their more colorful cousins, blueberries and strawberries. They also can’t compete with kiwis’ bountiful Vitamin C.
Bananas Boost Arterial Health
Healthy arteries are critical in the battle against heart disease and strokes. In reviewing multiple studies, Dr. Greger found that people eating two bananas and a baked potato daily experienced improved arterial function.
Bananas, he observes, can even counteract the negative effect of a high sodium meal:
“So, the health of our arteries may be determined by our sodium-to-potassium ratio. Two slices of bacon worth of sodium and our arteries take a significant hit within 30 minutes. But, add three bananas’ worth of potassium, and you can counteract the effects of the sodium.”
Bananas Lower Stroke Risk
This study from the University of Naples Medical School’s Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine showed that increasing daily potassium intake by 1600 mg resulted in a remarkable “21% lower risk of stroke.”
That equates to eating between 3 and 4 bananas a day.
The study’s authors concluded, “These results support recommendations for higher consumption of potassium-rich foods to prevent vascular diseases.”
And Dr. Greger affirms that even two extra a day could make a big difference:
“Five or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day are associated with [a quarter] lower rate of stroke, compared with three or fewer servings.”
Bananas Fight Cancer Cells
In another study, Cornell University Department of Food Science researchers dripped concentrations of the U.S.’ 11 most popular fruits onto human cancer cells. This NutritionFacts video details the results of their efforts:
Dr. Greger explains that the researchers first dripped water on the cancer cells to no effect. Oranges, pineapples, and pear concentrations also had no impact. Peaches reduced the cancer cell’s proliferation rate by about 10 percent.
Bananas didn’t match the performance of apples, strawberries, or red grapes, but they didn’t do half bad. The cancer cells exposed to banana concentration slowed their proliferation rate an incredible 40 percent!.
Bananas Can Reduce Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Researchers at Iran’s Shaheed Beheshti University of Medical Sciences ran a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial examining potassium’s impact on rheumatoid arthritis.
The RA sufferers consumed 6,000 mg of a potassium supplement dissolved in grape juice every day for four weeks. At the end of the trial, they reported:
- Improved rheumatoid arthritis
- Lowered disease activity
- 33-percent lower pain intensity
The researchers concluded that those positive results were “reflecting an anti-pain effect for potassium.”
For every bite of cell-damaging processed foods we eat, bananas do their small part to restore our cells to health. We are genuinely ignoring their nutritional benefits at our peril!
So, treat yourself to a bunch and add them to your smoothies. Or eat one every day as an afternoon pick-me-up.
And keep filling up on potassium-rich foods!