Scroll through our Instagram feed and it’s instantly obvious we love bananas. We love them in our Paleo Banana Bread. We love them on our Paleo Banana Bread. We love them by themselves, in smoothies, in nice-cream and even frozen in chunks as a snack. And we’re not the only ones. Bananas are Australia’s number one selling product in supermarkets, outselling every other line including packaged goods - in fact, Australians consume around five million of this yellow super fruit every day!
Unlike some other foods we can't get enough of, bananas are so nutritious, working on lots of levels to keep your body and mind functioning as it should. These good guys help with digestion, insomnia, mood, heart health and so much more...
There are two types of fibre necessary for good digestion: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre helps to slow down your digestion and makes you feel full, while insoluble fibre adds bulk and keeps everything moving along your digestive tract as it should - bananas contain both types. The fibre content of bananas also helps to create conditions for healthy gut flora, and enhances the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
Bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium, two minerals that work to relax your muscles and bring on sleep. They also supply your body with melatonin, a natural hormone that your body produces to bring on drowsiness as your surroundings darken. If your body isn't producing enough melatonin, or if you need an extra boost to get you over the line into lala land, a banana before bed can make the difference. If you prefer to go to bed on an empty stomach, try this banana cinnamon tea concoction instead.
It is thought (though not conclusively) that a common cause and/or symptom of depression is low levels of seratonin, otherwise known as the ‘feel good’ hormone. While diet may not fully address the complexity of depression and mood disorders, it is known that a combination of vitamin B6 and tryptophan causes the body to increase seratonin production, thereby improving one’s mood and reducing anxiety. B6 is a cofactor for another amino acid found in bananas - tyrosine. Combined with B6, tyrosine promotes the manufacture of norepinephrine, which stimulates brain activity and enhances alertness and concentration - all helpful in lifting the fogginess often associated with low mood or depression. https://www.theresiliencecentre.com.au/blog/supplements-to-help-managing-your-mind/
Potassium is also essential for good heart health. Bananas are a great natural source of of the mineral and their low sodium content makes them doubly good on this front. Diets high in fibre are another factor linked with positive effects on heart health, and seeing as one average banana will give you about 10% of the recommended daily fibre intake, they’re a great fruit to include in your diet on a regular basis.
Eat your peels
As is usually the case with fresh fruit and veg, the skin is the best bit! Banana peels are edible and are packed with vitamins B6 and B12, magnesium, potassium, fibre, protein and other good things. Just make sure to wash the peel carefully if the fruit is not organic, as it may have been sprayed with pesticides. Try freezing bananas in chunks with skin on to use for smoothies, or try this banana peel curry!
All being said, don’t go overboard. Too much of anything is problematic, even if it’s “healthy”. Overdosing on bananas can cause an upset stomach, headaches (due to too much natural sugar) or excessive sleepiness (due to too much tryptophan and magnesium). One or two a day should do the trick, but there’s no better guide than your own body - observe how it responds to bananas and, just like with any other food, it will tell you how it likes them!