14 Surprising Benefits of Banana

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

The health benefits of banana may include helping with weight loss, reducing obesity, curing intestinal disorders, relieving constipation, and conditions like dysentery, anemia, arthritis, gout, kidney, and urinary disorders.

Banana can also help with menstrual problems and burns. It is good for reducing blood pressure, protecting heart health, boosting metabolism and immunity, reducing the severity of ulcers, ensuring healthy eyes, building strong bones, and detoxifying the body.

What is Banana?

Bananas are tropical fruits that have a soft pulp inside their fleshy peel. These fruits are elongated and slightly curved and they grow in clusters near the top of the fruiting plant. Bananas come in a range of colors, including green, red, yellow, and brown (when ripe). A banana tree is the largest flowering herbaceous plant in the world. The scientific name of bananas is Musa acuminata. [1]

Bananas can be eaten directly when ripe or can be included in fruit salads, juice, and shakes. Also, they make a good topping for breakfast cereals or a snack for a quick burst of energy. Bananas are now grown in more than 100 countries around the world and can also be used to make fiber, banana wine, and are included in ornamental decorations.

Banana Nutrition

According to USDA, bananas are a possibly rich source of protein, potassium, carbohydrates, and dietary fiber. They have zero fat and cholesterol, as well as negligible sodium. Their impressive nutritional content includes vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin B6, riboflavin, folate, pantothenic acid, and niacin, as well as trace amounts of other vitamins. Bananas also contain minerals like phosphorus, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and copper. [2]

Nutrition Facts

Bananas, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]74.91
Energy 89
Energy [kJ]371
Protein [g]1.09
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.33
Ash [g]0.82
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]22.84
Fiber, total dietary [g]2.6
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]12.23
Sucrose [g]2.39
Glucose (dextrose) [g]4.98
Fructose [g]4.85
Maltose [g]0.01
Starch [g]5.38
Calcium, Ca [mg]5
Iron, Fe [mg]0.26
Magnesium, Mg [mg]27
Phosphorus, P [mg]22
Potassium, K [mg]358
Sodium, Na [mg]1
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.15
Copper, Cu [mg]0.08
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.27
Selenium, Se [µg]1
Fluoride, F [µg]2.2
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]8.7
Thiamin [mg]0.03
Riboflavin [mg]0.07
Niacin [mg]0.67
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.33
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.37
Folate, total [µg]20
Folate, food [µg]20
Folate, DFE [µg]20
Choline, total [mg]9.8
Betaine [mg]0.1
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]3
Carotene, beta [µg]26
Carotene, alpha [µg]25
Vitamin A, IU [IU]64
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]22
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.1
Tocopherol, gamma [mg]0.02
Tocopherol, delta [mg]0.01
Tocotrienol, alpha [mg]0.06
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.5
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.11
10:0 [g]0
12:0 [g]0
14:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.1
18:0 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.03
16:1 [g]0.01
18:1 [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.07
18:2 [g]0.05
18:3 [g]0.03
Phytosterols [mg]16
Tryptophan [g]0.01
Threonine [g]0.03
Isoleucine [g]0.03
Leucine [g]0.07
Lysine [g]0.05
Methionine [g]0.01
Cystine [g]0.01
Phenylalanine [g]0.05
Tyrosine [g]0.01
Valine [g]0.05
Arginine [g]0.05
Histidine [g]0.08
Alanine [g]0.04
Aspartic acid [g]0.12
Glutamic acid [g]0.15
Glycine [g]0.04
Proline [g]0.03
Serine [g]0.04
Sources include : USDA [3]

Carbs and Calories in Banana

Bananas are a good source of nutrition and 100 grams of raw banana contains about 89 calories and 23 grams of carbohydrates (Source: USDA, National Nutrient Database) [4]

Health Benefits of Banana

Banana has many amazing health benefits, which include the following:

May Lower Blood Pressure

Research conducted at the Hypertension Institute, USA states that potassium plays a key role in managing healthy blood pressure levels. As bananas are a rich source of potassium, they help to reduce blood pressure. Potassium helps in relieving the tension in arteries and veins, so blood can flow smoothly through the body and oxygenate various organs to increase their function. This can help eliminate atherosclerosis and the subsequent strokes and heart attacks that are so commonly associated with it. The fiber in bananas also scrapes excess cholesterol from the arteries and blood vessels and further reduces stress on the cardiovascular system. [5]

May Provide Relief from Constipation

Bananas contain significant amounts of dietary fiber and therefore help in smooth bowel movements. The roughage soothes the excretion process and relieves a person from constipation. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggest that bananas also help in treating other stomach-related disorders. [6]

Ripe banana on a wooden table

Bunch of fresh bananas Photo Credit: Shutterstock

May Help Manage Diabetes

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition  [7]has revealed that pectin, in bananas, is said to be a nutrient that aids in improving glucose tolerance in diabetics. A banana provides about 3 grams of dietary fiber, which is beneficial for both type-1 and type-2 diabetics, as per a study published in 2014. [8]

Might Preserve Memory and Boosts Mood

According to a study conducted in 2015, the amino acid tryptophan and antioxidants like dopamine, in bananas, play a vital role in boosting mood and preserving memory. Additionally, magnesium helps to relax muscles and vitamin B6 helps you sleep well. [9]

Might Give Relief from Symptoms of Anemia

Research led by Dr. Olga P. García, Autonomous University of Queretaro, Mexico, states that bananas contain high iron content and, therefore, they aid in treating anemia since iron is an essential part of red blood cells. Bananas also have a significant content of copper, which is an important element in the creation of red blood cells. By increasing your red blood cell count, not only do you prevent anemia, but you can also increase circulation to all parts of the body, thereby oxygenating them and optimizing their functionality. [10]

May Aid in Weight Loss

Bananas are useful for weight loss as one banana has approximately only 90 calories. They contain a lot of fiber as well and are easy to digest. Furthermore, they do not contain any fats. Therefore, an overweight person does not have to eat too much if their diet contains bananas because they are very filling. The roughage will also not make the person feel hungry by inhibiting the release of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. This will reduce overeating and also help in weight loss. Research conducted in 2012 also suggests that consuming bananas can aid in boosting metabolism, thereby helping in weight loss. [11]

May Strengthen Bones

The presence of fructooligosaccharide, a prebiotic, is a beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract that boosts the intake of minerals and nutrients by the body. Bananas are also linked to increased absorption of calcium. Calcium is the most important element in the production and regrowth of bone matter in the body. It reduces our chances of getting affected by osteoporosis and natural weakness. [12]

Possibly Anti-inflammatory Properties

Collective research at the Department of Pharmacy, Aston University, Birmingham, UK and School of Health and Sports Science, The University of North London, UK, suggests that the compounds inside bananas are anti-inflammatory in nature, meaning that they can reduce swelling, inflammation, and irritation from conditions like arthritis and gout. [13]

May Improve Vision

Bananas, like many other fruits, are packed with antioxidants and carotenoids, as well as a healthy mix of minerals that can seriously boost the health of your eyes. Macular degeneration, cataracts, night blindness, and glaucoma have all been shown to decrease with normal intake of bananas and other similar fruits.

Might Promote Weight Gain

Bananas can be useful for weight gain. When consumed with milk, bananas help increase a person’s weight rapidly. Milk provides the necessary proteins and bananas provide the sugars. Furthermore, since bananas are easily digested, an underweight person can gulp down 5-6 bananas in a day apart from the regular meals without facing indigestion. This leads to an additional intake of 500-600 calories, which is quite necessary for weight gain. Since bananas have the ability to provide instant energy, sportsmen eat bananas during the breaks in between games for an extra surge of energy.

May Give Relief from Piles (Hemorrhoids)

Bananas have been used as a natural remedy for piles as the potentially high fiber content may make it easy to pass stools. The laxative effect prevents any kind of strain, thus providing relief and curing hemorrhoids (swollen veins around the anus region).

May Have Anti-ulcerogenic Properties

Traditionally, bananas have been used as an antacid food to soothe upset stomachs as they can also suppress acid secretion. Research published in the British Journal of Pharmacology claims that bananas have anti-ulcerogenic properties. The protease inhibitors in bananas eliminate the harmful bacteria that have been linked to the development of stomach ulcers. [14]

Health benefits of banana infographic

Bananas can be eaten directly when ripe or can be included in fruit salads, juice, and shakes.

Might Prevent Kidney Disorders

A 2005 study suggests that potassium and various antioxidants in bananas help ease the strain on kidneys and encourage urination. This can help keep toxins from accumulating in the body. [15]

May Relieve Menstrual Problems

Traditional medicinal applications of banana included its use as a potential menstruation aid. Cooked banana flowers help in providing relief from painful and excessive bleeding during the menstrual cycle and can relieve other menstrual distress too. [16]

Banana Diet

The Morning Banana Diet for weight loss became so popular that it may lead to a shortage of bananas in food stores of Japan. This diet plan involved consumption of unlimited bananas with water in the morning, unrestricted lunch and dinner but no deserts. And no eating after 8:00 pm.

Uses of Banana

For a more balanced diet, you can have the fruit of banana in any of the following ways:

  • Add a banana to your bowl of cereal, oats or muesli to increase the nutrients.
  • Add frozen bananas to your smoothie for a delicious flavor.
  • Add ripe mashed bananas in baked goods. It is a good replacement for oil and butter in cooking.
  • Add banana in cakes and cookies. It gives them a yummy taste.
  • Coat the banana with grated coconut and bake it. Enjoy it as a snack or you can freeze it and have it for dessert.
  • Peel off and have it directly

Different parts of the banana are used for cooking in different countries. The fruit is eaten raw or cooked. Some also eat the peel or the skin of the banana, which are also nutritious. The banana heart (flower) is also used in various curries and soups. The banana leaves are used as wrapping materials for baking and boiling various dishes. They are also used as biodegradable plants or containers. The trunk of the plant is also used in a Burmese dish called mohinga, which is a rice noodle with fish soup.

Bananas and Plantains

The main distinction between bananas and plantains is that plantains are smaller, starchier, and denser fruits and are traditionally eaten in Asia and other tropical countries. Bananas are more commonly found in Europe and America and are soft, desert fruits.

Side Effects of Banana

Consuming banana may have some side effects like:

  • High potassium levels: Certain medicines consumed for hypertension have the ability to raise potassium levels in the body. These include beta-blockers and diuretics. Therefore, those on medication are advised to consult a doctor before adding bananas to their diet.
  • Allergy: Those who are allergic to bananas may experience itching, swelling, hives, and wheezing in the throat and mouth.
  • Unripe bananasUnripe bananas can cause severe indigestion and should be eaten only in a cooked form.
  • Migraine: Those who get frequent migraine attacks are advised to have no more than half a banana a day.
  • Gastrointestinal distress: Due to the abundant amount of fiber, eating too many bananas may cause various gastrointestinal disorders. These include stomach cramps, bloating, gas, and many more.
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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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