Health Benefits of the Banana

The Chiquita Banana was the first banana I knew about as a child.  I remember watching advertisements with "Miss Chiquita" dancing to the melody that is familiar to people my age.
 
I loved eating bananas, but didn't give much thought at the time to the banana's many wonderful nutrition benefits, and didn't know that they were a great way to prepare for a good workout.  Read on for more information about how the banana benefits athletes, and every day people like you and me.

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Research shows that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous,90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes. But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. Bananas can also help us overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet. 

Research published in the January 2005 issue of the International Journal of Cancer suggests that regular consumption of whole fruits and vegetables, especially bananas, is highly protective against kidney cancer. The results of this large population based prospective study (13.4 years) of 61,000 women aged 40-76, show that women eating more than 75 servings of fruits and vegetables per month cut their risk of kidney cancer by 40%. Among the fruits, bananas were found to be especially protective. Women eating bananas four to six times a week cut their risk of kidney cancer by 50% compared to those who did not eat bananas.

A group called MIND, the largest mental health charity in England, did a study amongst people suffering from depression and found that many felt much better after simply eating a banana. This is because bananas contain Tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

Two-hundred students at a Twickenham (Middlesex, UK) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Bananas have also been recognized for their antacid effects that protect against stomach ulcers and ulcer damage. In one study, a simple mixture of banana and milk significantly suppressed acid secretion.  The nutrients in bananas help activate the cells that compose the stomach lining, so they produce a thicker protective mucus barrier against stomach acids.  Bananas also contain compounds known as protease inhibitors which help eliminate bacteria in the stomach that are the primary cause of stomach ulcers.
 
This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to help with high blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Tip for insect bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.
Healthy Banana Muffins - I love banana bread and banana muffins, SparkPeople has a nice selection of healthy banana muffin recipes for you to enjoy.

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Updated 1/16/13 

A food container for a Banana? I guess you can put anything else that you'd like to carry along with you in it as well, but it is made for carrying bananas on the goGreat for hiking, camping and biking...but it might be nice for my husband's lunch carrier as well.  

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