Bananas are a great food for all round health benefits, for the average person, dieter or even athletes bananas may provide greater benefits than most fruits. The combination of carbohydrates and B vitamins present in a banana helps provide an energy boost which makes them great to eat 30 minutes before a workout, or even at breakfast to help boost energy at the start of every day.
Bananas contain a high dose of potassium - an essential ingredient to keep your heart and nervous system in good shape. Potassium is essential for proper muscle contraction and hence plays an important role in muscle-influenced activities including: the normal rhythmic pumping of the heart, digestion, muscular movements, etc., Some studies have also linked low potassium intake to high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke. Most Americans don’t get enough potassium in their diet (recommended dose is about 4 g per day) - blame it on our fast food culture. Including a banana (or two) in your diet everyday would take you a step closer towards getting your daily recommended dose of potassium.
Benefits to the kidneys and the bones are again due to the high potassium content of bananas. A normal intake of potassium suppresses calcium excretion in the urine and minimizes the risk of kidney stones. Also, for the same reason (suppressing of calcium excretion), it minimizes the loss of calcium from the body and thereby reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
Bananas contain tryptophan (although it’s not one of the major sources, a medium still contains about 10.6 mg of tryptophan). Tryptophan is one of the 20 amino acids which are building blocks of proteins (btw, an incredible number of articles on the internet call tryptophan as a “mood-enhancing protein” and that is technically not correct). Tryptophan helps the body to produce serotonin - which has a calming effect on the brain (creates a stable mood) and acts as a mild sedative. It should be noted that the only way our our body gets it’s dose of tryptophan is through our diet - it does not produce tryptophan naturally; bananas is one of the easiest ways to get it.
Bananas are one of the highest sources of naturally available vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 plays an important role in converting tryptophan to serotonin (read #3 above), and also helps the body to make hemoglobin - a crucial ingredient of your blood. Vitamin B6 is also essential for antibody production and to maintain a healthy immune response. It also helps to convert carbohydrates to glucose and thereby maintains proper blood sugar levels. A medium banana can take care of 1/5th of your daily recommended intake of vitamin B6 and is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to increase your dietary intake of the vitamin.
Bananas are part of the BRAT diet, a diet many physicians and nurses recommend for children recovering from gastrointestinal problems, particularly diarrhea. BRAT stands for the different components that make up the diet: Bananas, Rice cereal, Applesauce, Toast. These are binding foods that make the stools harder.
A single serving (one medium-sized banana) contains 16% of the daily recommended dietary fiber intake for a normal adult - that’s substantial for a single serving of any food. Fiber improves laxation (smooth bowel movements). Fiber-rich diets have also been linked to lower risk of coronary heart disease and of type 2 diabetes.