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The Effects of Eating Bananas

By Karen McCarthy

Bananas are packed with benefits for your body, and they make a convenient snack for any time of day. They're rich in nutrients, making them a great addition to any healthy diet. Bananas may even be good for your brain and help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. They benefit athletes, too, since they can help prevent muscle cramps.

Provide Plentiful Nutrition

One medium-sized banana contains 110 calories. Bananas are naturally free of fat, cholesterol and sodium. Each banana holds about 3 grams of fiber, which is 12 percent of your daily requirement. Dietary fiber helps to move waste through the bowels and prevent constipation. While a banana only has 1 gram of protein, it offers you 30 grams of carbohydrates, giving you a quick energy boost.

Contain Vitamins

Bananas contain B vitamins, including folate, riboflavin and niacin. They're a particularly good source of vitamin B-6, which helps produce antibodies and hemoglobin while maintaining healthy nerve function and blood glucose levels. One medium banana contains 15 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help protect your body from damage caused by digestion and exposure to tobacco smoke and radiation. This damage, called oxidation, builds up over time and can play a role in many chronic diseases, as well as aging. Vitamin C is also vital for all tissue growth and repair and maintaining healthy teeth and bones.

Improve Muscle Function

Bananas contain potassium, which is required for healthy functioning of your nervous system and muscles. If you're deficient in potassium, your muscles can get tired and weak, and you may experience painful cramps. One medium banana has 450 milligrams of potassium, which is almost 10 percent of the 4,700 milligrams of potassium you need daily. That's why many athletes go for bananas to prevent cramping during training and events.

Promote Bowel Health

In a study published in "Anaerobe" in 2011, scientists looked at the effects of bananas on women with gastrointestinal and weight issues. They gave some women a medium banana twice daily and other women either a banana-flavored drink or a cup of water. They collected stool samples at the beginning, middle and end of the study. From the halfway point to the end of the study, women who had two bananas daily experienced significantly less bloating compared to those who didn't eat bananas. They also had slightly higher amounts of healthy gut bacteria, which are required for proper digestion of nutrients.

May Reduce Glucose and Cholesterol Levels

In a study published in the "Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture" in 2014, scientists investigated the effect of bananas on glucose levels. In an animal study, they induced diabetes -- a condition of glucose levels being too high -- and then gave the rats banana extract. They concluded the banana extract hindered carbohydrate absorption, which has an anti-diabetic effect. But the effects of eating bananas on diabetes in humans hasn't been examined. In another study on rats, published in the "Journal of Dietary Supplements" in 2009, scientists found that banana flavonoids lowered levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and fatty acids. This effect hasn't been tested in humans.

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