Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What you Didn't Know About the Banana

You've either heard that bananas are great or they are bad (There's no middle ground with rumors). Some folks say the banana is great simply because it is a fruit. Others say the banana is bad because it tastes so sweet. So what is reality? The banana is more complex than that.

Calories: A medium banana can contain about 110 calories. But rather than just say a banana contains more calories than other fruits, it is important to understand why. If you look at a banana, it is denser than most other fruits because it contains less water (which is why we don't refer to them as 'juicy'). Thus, there is more actual fruit in a banana than there is in most fruits, and they make you get full faster. Because they satisfy you more, people tend to eat less of them. All I would say is that because you know how many calories are in it, don't go eating 3 as a snack.

Potassium: I'm sure you hear this a lot, but you're probably like "who cares about potassium anyway?". I'll tell you why you should care, especially if you are an athlete (we are all aspiring athletes on here, yea?). The high amounts of potassium in bananas can lower blood pressure and the risk of stroke, replace electrolytes lost with sweat, and stimulate your muscles, nerves and brain cells. Athletes tend to take bananas to prevent muscle cramping and replenish the muscles after a tough workout.

Sweetness: A medium banana contains about 19 grams of sugar, which is more than most fruits. Let's be honest though, most fruits do contain a lot of sugars. The positive benefit is that compared to the sugars in desserts, these sugars are natural and can provide well-needed energy. And we all know natural is better than processed. If you are doing a hard workout and need to quickly replenish your body, the banana is probably a better way to go than energy drinks as it replenishes you quickly and more naturally.

Fiber: Fiber is great for the digestive system, and although bananas don't contain a very high amount, then do contain a good amount of fiber for a snack. A medium banana can contain about 3g of fiber (compared to the 30 or so we usually need per day). So if your food has some trouble going down and out, maybe introduce a banana into your daily diet to help?

Other nutrients: The fat content in a banana is pretty low compared to the sugar content. One banana still usually has basically no fat, sodium, or cholesterol (less than a gram). And of course, they are high in vitamin C, B6, and magnesium.

So what's the verdict? Bananas are great as part of a healthy diet, but you need to be careful with how much you eat because they could stack up your calorie count pretty easily. However, the health benefits outweigh any negatives, especially for athletes. Just don't look for banana-flavored items because there's nothing like the real thing!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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