A bunch of fresh bananas is a staple in almost every kitchen. A banana deserves the title of America’s favorite fruit for its cheery yellow color, sweet flavor, great nutritional qualities, variety of uses and recipes and low cost. Bananas remain the nation’s most consumed fruit for decades, ranking at 11.4 pounds of bananas per person each year.
Grab a banana for your 100-calorie snack, as each banana only has about 105 calories. They contain a lot of dietary fiber and antioxidants, which prevent heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Bananas are famously rich in potassium, a mineral that Americans often lack. Get your potassium from bananas to support all tissues and organs in your body, especially your blood pressure. A banana a day can help reduce high blood pressure and minimize the risk of a stroke.
Bananas are also a good source of prebiotics that activate friendly probiotic bacteria found in yogurt and kefir. Probiotics are important because they support your immune system, keep your digestive system healthy and promote urinal and genital health. Add some banana to your yogurt or smoothie to make the best out of the probiotic live cultures.
Green vs. Brown
Bananas taste and look the best at their prime time – when they are yellow. If you are unsure whether a banana is too green or too ripe for you to eat, check out these facts about green and brown bananas:
- Greener bananas contain the most vitamins and minerals. As the ripeness of the banana increases, the vitamin concertation decreases.
- The greener the banana, the less sugar it contains.
- High resistant starch and complex carbs help control your weight, blood sugar and lower cholesterol levels but it is also harder to digest.
- Buy your bananas while they are still a little green so that you have a couple of days to eat them before they go too ripe for your taste.
- Brown spots on ripe bananas produce a cancer-fighting protein called Tumor Necrosis Factor, which can reduce dangerous tumors.
- The riper the banana, the more antioxidants it has.
- Overripe bananas are sweeter and easier to digest because of simple sugars. If you are trying to avoid sugar, watch out for bananas that are getting brown.
- Slow down the ripening process by keeping the bananas in the fridge.
Alternate different types of bananas to get the most benefits in your diet. You can use bananas in your breakfast, add them to your cereal or oatmeal or use overripe mushy ones for baking delicious treats. Bananas are an easy convenient snack with some great health benefits.
Healthy and Delicious Banana-Oat Citrus Smoothie
- ⅔ cup orange juice
- ½ cup cooked oatmeal
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed
- 1 tablespoon organic honey
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- 1 large banana
Add a refreshing boost to your smoothie by using a frozen banana or adding a cup of ice. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Prepare the oatmeal the night before and store in the fridge for a quick breakfast smoothie the next day.
Swing by the Adventist Health stand at the annual Race for the Cure this Sunday, September 18 at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park to grab a free banana!
Sources: United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service; Produce for Better Health Foundation; Harvard School of Public Health; International Journal of Dental and Medical Research.
Author: LivingWell PDX Blog
Adventist Health is committed to creating a healthier Portland community.