08 September, 2011
Do Bananas Have Antioxidants?
Their low cost and good taste makes bananas one of the most consumed fruits. The health benefits bananas provide include fiber, which aids digestion, and antioxidants for health and anti-aging benefits. Antioxidants are phytochemicals found in plants. Your body cannot manufacture antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium and vitamins A, C and E; you must obtain them from plant foods: fruits and vegetables. The size, portion and kind of fruits and vegetables you select determine the amount and type of antioxidants they contain. The antioxidants bananas contain include beta-carotene, lutein, selenium, vitamins A, C and E, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database.
Antioxidant carotenoids like beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A, provide protection against cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Lutein, also a carotenoid, functions as a natural sunblock for the retina, reduces the risk of cataract formation in the eyes, as well as mitigating the effects of age-related macular degeneration, according to the University of New Hampshire.
According to the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, selenium plays a role in regulating immune function, and may provide benefits for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS and prostate cancer. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging reported on a study of the effect of selenium on elderly subjects consuming high fish diets. The study determined lifelong consumption of selenium provided the health benefits previously attributed to omega-3 fatty acids, including retention of cognitive function. A study reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology supports these results. Based upon a two-year cross-sectional survey, researchers theorized low selenium levels contributed to low cognitive capacity in the study population.
According to MayoClinic.com, strong scientific evidence establishes the health benefits of vitamin C for treatment of the common cold, scurvy, urinary tract infection and as an aid in iron absorption. Limited research points to the possibility of vitamin C playing a useful role in treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, anemia, arthritis, asthma and cancer.
The Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health reports cardiac benefits derived from vitamin E include dilation of blood vessels and suppression of blood-clot formation. Additional benefits of vitamin E include prevention or delay in the onset of heart disease, cancer, eye disorders and cognitive decline – diseases related to cell damage caused by free radicals.
Antioxidants in Whole Foods vs Supplements
According to a study published in the “Journal of Nutrition,” a combination of phytochemicals obtained from eating a variety of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, provides greater health benefits than individual antioxidant supplementation.
- University of New Hampshire; The Carotenoid Story; Drs. David and Dean Kopsell; December 6, 2004
- “Can J Diet Pract Res.”; The Relevance of Selenium; Milly Ryan-Harshman, Ph.D., R.D., et al; 2007
- “J Nut Health Aging”; Selenium Intake in Elderly High Fish Consumers; Berr C, et al; January 2009
- “Am. J. Epidemiol.”; Selenium Level and Cognitive Function; Sujuan Gao, et al; May 2006
- MayoClinic.com; “Vitamin C”; August 1, 2011
- Office of Dietary Supplements; “Vitamin E”; June 24, 2011
- "J. Nutr."; Potential Synergy of Phytochemicals in Cancer Prevention; Rui Hai Liu; December 2004
- University of Maryland Medical Center; “Macular Degeneration”
- Rice University; "Antioxidants and Free Radicals"; Caryn Honig, RD LD; June 1996
- University of Maryland Medical Center; “Vitamins – Phytochemicals”; February 27, 2009
- “Genetics and Molecular Biology”; Diversity of Carotenoid-Rich Bananas; EP Amorim, et al; 2009
- USDA; “Antioxidant Content of Foods”; Haytowitz, David, et al; February 11 2008
- PubMed.gov: “Food Nutr Bull.”; Carotenoid-rich bananas; Englberger L, et al; December 2003
- University of Maryland Medical Center; "Vitamins – Dietary Health Benefits"; February 27, 2009
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