Proven Health Benefits of Banana and Banana Peel Based on Science

Proven Health Benefits of Banana

Bananas are a delicious fruit that contain vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and plenty of dietary fiber. Eating one or 2 bananas a day can help improve your digestion, lower blood glucose levels, and give you plenty of energy. Bananas also contain dietary fiber and certain starches that can help you lose weight.

Most people are familiar with the traditional yellow skinned banana but very few know about the red banana. Red bananas are a type of banana with reddish-purple skin. When ripe, raw red bananas have a flesh that is cream to light pink in color. Red bananas are softer and sweeter than the yellow skinned Cavendish banana, and they have a slight berry like flavor.

One medium-sized banana is relatively low in calories and carbs and contains about 17% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C. Consuming 1 banana a day can also help you get potassium, vitamin B6, and 10% of your RDI of fiber.

It’s not just the tasty flesh of the banana that has health benefits. Banana peels are also edible and contain antioxidants and antibacterial properties. In fact, banana peel from Cavendish bananas contains high levels of dopamine.

In this article, you will find out why red and yellow bananas are so good for you. I will examine what scientific research has revealed as to the many health benefits of regularly eating bananas.

At the end of the article, you will find out how to get the health benefits of banana peel in your diet, as well as delicious banana smoothies to boost your health.

What Are Bananas?

Bananas are an edible fruit that have a thick skin and grow in tropical warm climates. Bananas belong to the Musa genus of plants.

One of the most popular types of banana is the Cavendish banana (Musa acuminate). These are very sweet bananas that usually have a yellow skin. (1) Other types of bananas on sale in supermarkets are Big Michael and Martinique bananas.

You can also buy red bananas which have a skin that is reddish-purple and are usually sweeter than Cavendish bananas. Another type of banana it the Lady Finger variety which is smaller than regular bananas.

Plantains are also a type of banana but have a higher starch content and less sweetness. These are sometimes referred to as “cooking bananas” and can be eaten unripe or ripe. Plantains are usually green even when they have ripened.

Bananas are also a very convenient and tasty snack because they come in their own “packaging.”

Banana Nutrition Facts

Bananas are extremely nutritious because they are low in sugar, have a low glycemic index (GI) and contain a number of vitamins and minerals (2) which can help you get your daily recommended intake of essential nutrients.

For example, even a small banana contains just 90 calories and 23 g of carbs. The fiber content in a small banana is about 2.6 g which is an impressive 11% of your RDI.

What are the reasons to eat one or 2 bananas a day? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one medium-sized banana (about 7” long, 118 g) has the following nutritional benefit: (3)

  • 105 calories (a small banana, 101 g, has 90 calories)
  • 27 g carbs
  • 3 g dietary fiber (12% RDI)
  • 10 mg vitamin C (17%)
  • 4 mg vitamin B6 (22% RDI)
  • 5 IU vitamin A (2% RDI)
  • 6 mg folate (6% RDI)
  • 422 mg potassium (12% RDI)
  • 3 mg manganese (16% RDI)

So, consuming 2 bananas a day could help you get almost half of your vitamin B6 requirements, over 30% of your vitamin C requirements, and 25% of your needed potassium.

Bananas also contain protein. The amount of protein in a medium-sized banana (118 g) is 1.3 g which is 3% of your RDI.

According to Dietitian and Nutritionist Christine Mikstas, eating a banana everyday can help to keep your bowels working well, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and boost your cardiovascular health. (4)

Bananas nutritional value is also boosted by being a good source of antioxidants. Apart from having a lot of vitamin C (which is an antioxidant) scientists have found that a compound in bananas, gallocatechin, has antioxidant effects. In fact, there are more antioxidants in banana peel than in the pulp of the fruit! (5)

At the end of the article, you will find out ways of using banana peel in your diet for its health benefits.

Benefits of Bananas (Red and Yellow)

Let’s look in more detail at the many ways eating a banana a day can help give your health a boost.

Bananas Promote Good Digestive Health

Bananas are a good source of dietary fiber and so can help keep your digestion working properly.

Many studies point to the fact that a high-fiber diet is essential to prevent many chronic diseases. Also getting the right amount of fiber daily helps to have regular bowel movements. (6)

Having a large banana in the morning can help you start your day by getting 14% of your fiber intake and 20% of your required vitamin C intake.

Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health say that another way bananas promote digestive health is because they contain resistant starch. This type of starch found mainly in unripe bananas is absorbed slowly in the small intestine. This helps beneficial microbes to grow in the gut that are essential for digestion. (7)

Studies have found that banana consumption has a prebiotic effect in the intestines. Prebiotics are necessary to help friendly bacteria (probiotics) to grow. In one study, women who consumed 2 bananas a day had increased levels of bifidobacterial compounds which are friendly bacteria in the human gut. The women also reported less abdominal bloating. (8)

Find out about other ways to improve your digestive health naturally.

Bananas Are a Good Source of Energy

If you enjoy exercising regularly, then bananas can give you a great healthy energy boost.

One medium banana contains 27 g carbs but has a low glycemic index which classes them as a healthy carb. Studies have shown that bananas provide good nutritional value during intensive exercise. Scientists described bananas as a “cost-effective energy source” for athletes. (9)

Enjoying a banana before exercising will also help reduce the effects of oxidative stress on the body and exercise-induced inflammation. (9)

Apart from enjoying the health benefits of bananas, find out what other great foods can give you energy.

Bananas Can Help Prevent Muscle Cramps After Exercising

Another reason to consume a medium-sized banana before working out is that compounds in bananas can help reduce post-exercise muscle pain.

Research into the nutritional content of bananas has found that the nutritional content in bananas can help reduce exercise-associated muscle cramps and pain. One clinical trial found that athletes who consumed 2 bananas before intensive cycling had less muscle cramping than those who only consumed water. (10)

The scientists found that sugar and phytochemicals in bananas help reduce inflammation after exercise and speed up metabolic recovery. (10)

Learn about other ways of getting rid of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) naturally.

Bananas Can Help Lower Blood Pressure

Bananas contain a high amount of potassium and can prove beneficial in helping to lower blood pressure.

A large banana contains about 490 mg potassium which is 14% of your recommended daily intake. Research into the effect of potassium on hypertension (high blood pressure) found that getting enough dietary potassium can help reduce diastolic and systolic blood pressure. This can also have a significant impact on cardiovascular health and also reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack. (11)

One random cross-over study found that a meal containing the equivalent of bananas can lower blood pressure after the meal. Consuming bananas can have an overall effect of improving artery health. (12)

Other studies have found that regularly including more bananas in your diet can help to lower diastolic blood pressure. (13)

Some studies also say that minerals in bananas like potassium and magnesium have a general cardio-protective effect. (14, 15)

Learn about other ways to lower blood pressure naturally and the importance of addressing magnesium and potassium deficiencies.

Bananas Can Help Regulate Blood Glucose Levels

If you have diabetes, you can still eat moderate portions of bananas because they can help improve blood glucose levels.

One small banana (6” or 15 cm) contains 23 g of carbs and has a low GI count of 8. One study found that eating a banana for breakfast significantly lowered fasting blood glucose levels after 4 weeks in people with high cholesterol. The trial concluded that consuming a banana daily shouldn’t harm people with diabetes or high cholesterol. (16)

If you have type 2 diabetes, learn about other foods that can help manage diabetes symptoms.

Bananas Contain Compounds That Can Protect Against Gastric Ulcers

Unripe plantain bananas contain compounds that can help protect your gastrointestinal lining from damage.

Gastric ulcers can be caused by the long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). One study found that unripe bananas have anti-ulcerogenic properties that can protect the stomach lining. Preparations using plantain banana powder can help to stimulate the growth of gastric mucosa. This helps to prevent gastrointestinal damage that results in ulcers. (17)

Other research has suggested that using plantain banana extracts can help to kill off free radicals in the intestines and reduce excess stomach acid. This can help to heal the peptic ulcer. (18)

Find out more ways to lower stomach acid levels if you suffer from ulcers or heartburn.

Unripe Bananas Can Help You Lose Weight

Bananas are a very healthy fruit that can also help you lose weight as part of a weight-loss program.

Two large bananas can provide you with about 30% of your recommended daily fiber intake. Researchers say that dietary fiber can help reduce feelings of hunger and keep your digestion working properly. Increasing dietary fiber can help to lose weight and reduce obesity. (19)

Unripe bananas that are still green contain resistant starch that can also help you lose weight. The British Journal of Nutrition reported that foods containing resistant starch can help to manage appetite better. (20)

What about claims that bananas cause you to put on weight? According to researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, increasing your regular banana intake doesn’t cause weight gain. (7)

If you want to lose belly fat, try out some of these 12 simple tweaks for weight loss.

Bananas May Help Lower Your Risk of Kidney Cancer

One study in Sweden found that bananas are one of the best fruits to eat to lower your risk of renal cell carcinoma (a type of kidney cancer). The researchers found that eating 3 portions of fruits and vegetables per day can reduce the risk of renal cancer. From fruits, bananas had the best protective effect on the kidneys against cancer. (21)

Banana Peels: Are They Edible?

Banana peels are edible and contain many antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. So, you shouldn’t dispose of your banana peels but you can try to incorporate them into your diet. In fact, banana peels have more antioxidants than banana pulp.

Scientists have found that banana peel contains polyphenols and carotenoids – strong plant-based antioxidants. In fact, unripe banana peel has the strongest antioxidant activity. (22)

How can you eat banana peel? You can roast bananas along with the peel to make them more palatable. Or, you can fry them or boil them. However, if you want to get the health benefits of raw banana peel, you can chop the ends off, thoroughly wash the peel, and add the peel to your favorite smoothie.

What are the benefits of using bananas peels? Here a few great reasons to use banana peel in your diet.

Consuming banana peel may have an anti-depressant effect

Adding raw banana peel to your smoothies can help lift your mood and have an anti-depressant effect.

Scientists have found that the peel of Cavendish bananas contains high levels of dopamine. In fact, banana peel has up to 560 mg dopamine levels per 100 g as compared to just 10 mg dopamine in the pulp. As well as containing dopamine, banana peel is a rich source of antioxidants. (23)

For more advice on what to do if you have depression, please read this article on natural ways to lift your mood. You can also consume other supplements to increase dopamine levels and boost your mood.

Banana peels are good for oral health

Banana peels also have benefits for your dental health and can help prevent gum disease.

Researchers have found that extracts from banana peel have antibacterial activity against certain strains of bacteria that are found in the mouth. Oral bacteria are associated with periodontal disease like bleeding gums, bad breath, loose teeth, or gum abscesses. (24)

You can also try using the skin of a banana to whiten your teeth. Some people claim that potassium, manganese, and magnesium in banana peel have teeth-whitening properties. There are no scientific studies backing up these claims. However, the only way to see if bananas can whiten your teeth is to try yourself.

How to use bananas to whiten teeth:

  1. Rub the inside of a banana peel over your teeth and leave for 5 – 10 minutes for the banana paste to work.
  2. Brush your teeth as normal to clear the banana paste and completely remove bacteria from your mouth.
  3. Use the banana skin teeth-whitening method once a day for best results.
  4. It may take a few weeks until you see results.

Apply banana peels to insect bites or to soothe skin rashes

You could also try applying banana peels to skin rashes and insect bites.

Interestingly, the journal Medicines in 2017 reported that banana peel can help to reduce skin swelling and irritation from mosquito bites. Also, you can make your own poultice for wounds to reduce inflammation and pain. (25)

All you need to do is apply the banana peel flesh side down to your irritated skin to help reduce discomfort and speed up healing.

Use banana peels in your compost

Another way to get the benefits from banana peels is to put them into your compost. Nutrient-rich banana peels in compost breakdown into their base elements and create a wonderful fertilizer for your plants.

Can You Eat Too Many Bananas? How Many Bananas Should You Eat a Day

Bananas are a popular fruit that make a great snack because they are already pre-packaged in their own protective skin. How many bananas should you eat in a day to get its health benefits?

You can safely eat bananas without worrying too much about overdosing. For example, one medium-sized banana contains 422 mg of potassium. According to medical sources, you need around 4,700 mg of potassium per day as part of a healthy diet. (26) That would mean that you would have to eat around 11 bananas before reaching your RDI of potassium.

If you have an underlying health problem like kidney disease or diabetes, you should limit your banana intake.

Most people can eat safely 4 or 5 bananas a day.

How to Add More Bananas to Your Diet

You can easily increase the number of bananas you eat as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Here are a few ideas:

  • Chop up a ripe banana and add it to plain yogurt for sweetness and to increase your vitamin intake.
  • Add a sliced whole banana to your blender along with other fruits to make a delicious smoothie (see recipes at the end of this article).
  • Boost the antioxidant levels of your smoothie by chopping off the ends of a banana and adding raw banana peel.
  • Roast a banana in the oven to create a deliciously sweet dessert. The peel should also be soft enough to eat as well after roasting.
  • Mash up banana flesh and spread it on some tasty rice crackers for a healthy snack.

How to Store Bananas

You can try to buy organically-grown bananas, although bananas have low to moderate pesticide residue score according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) annual guide to pesticides in produce. Bananas continue to ripen in the store and when you take them home. Bananas should be stored at room temperature to ripen properly.

If your bananas are about to become overripe, you can freeze them and keep them for several months. To do this remove the peel first, cut the bananas into chunks and arrange them in one layer on a parchment lined baking tray and freeze for about two hours. Once frozen, transfer to plastic freezer bag.

Health Boosting Breakfast Banana Smoothies

While you cannot juice bananas, it doesn’t mean that you can’t blend them with your juice. Bananas make excellent smoothies – they add thickness and fiber to smoothies and make them taste smooth, creamy and delicious.

Here I would like to share with you some great banana smoothie recipes that are great for breakfast and will provide you lots of energy to face the day ahead.

Heart Smart Oatmeal Banana Smoothie

Oatmeal provides high levels of fiber, has low levels of fat and is a good source of protein. It is a recommended food to control diabetes as the large amount of fiber causes a slower absorption of glucose.

Almonds are rich in minerals (zinc, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium), vitamins (E, folic acid, B1, B2, B3), polyunsaturated fatty acids, protein and fiber. They also help lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy heart and blood vessels, help lower blood pressure and strengthen bones because they are rich in calcium. This yogurt smoothie recipe combines all these nutritional benefits and is delicious too!

2 whole bananas (best with brown flecks on peel)
2 cups Ice
1/3 cup yogurt – preferably Greek yogurt flavored with honey
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup almonds

Pour all ingredients in blender, pouring the ice in last. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until the smoothie thickens.

Breakfast Banana Green Smoothie

Another great recipe is for green smoothie that combines the goodness of leafy greens and banana. You can also read my article on how to upgrade your health with green smoothie recipes.

Green smoothies enable us to consume various combinations of greens and vegetables that can improve our health. The health benefits of green smoothie vary depending on the green leaves or vegetables you choose, but generally speaking they help clear toxins, add many nutrients, cleanse the digestive system, nurture the skin, improve vision, and more.

5-6 lettuce leaves or a big handful of spinach
1 cucumber (or celery if you like)
Handful of sprouts
1 banana
Dried pitted date
Optional: flaxseeds or chia seeds (for the addition of omega- 3 fatty acids)
Cool water as needed, depending on the desired consistency.

Put all the ingredients in a blender without the water and blend. Add the water gradually until you have reached to the desired consistency.

Banana Cocoa Smoothie

And last – a recipe for cocoa banana smoothie. I’ve already written about the amazing health benefits of raw cacao, and smoothie is a great and easy way to incorporate raw cocoa into your daily nutrition.

4 oranges, juiced (you can change the taste by replacing orange juice with coconut water or milk substitutes)
2 tsp raw cocoa powder
2 bananas, peeled
1 mango, peeled and pitted

Pour the orange juice and all the other ingredients into the blender and blend. If you want you can add more juice or water to thin the smoothie.

Related Articles:

Healthy and Natural World