There are many health benefits to eating bananas.

A bowl of mixed fruit. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)
A bowl of mixed fruit. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)

More than 100 billion bananas are eaten each year worldwide.

North Americans eat an average of 27 pounds of bananas per person per year – making it the most heavily consumed fruit in America.

“A medium-sized banana provides about 105 calories with virtually no fat, cholesterol or sodium,” says Joanne Hutson, a Mayo Clinic Health System registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. Her article appears on the Mayo Clinic website.

“Nobody gets fat or develops diabetes from eating too many bananas,” says Jessica D. Bihuniak, Ph.D., R.D., an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Bihuniak is quoted in a Consumer Magazine article on bananas (April 18, 2018).

But some carb- and calorie-conscious consumers have relegated bananas to the “do not eat” list because of the fruit’s high sugar and calorie count relative to some other fruits.

That rationale is misguided, Bihuniak says. Virtually, there is no harm from eating too much of any fruit. And as with all fruits, bananas are loaded with a bevy of nutrients, some of which promote a healthy heart, gut, and waistline.

I love eating bananas. I was born and raised in Musoma, Tanzania on the shores of Lake Victoria. We used to get our bananas from the neighbouring country of Uganda. The weekly boat from Uganda would arrive at the port of Musoma. The port was about five kilometers from our house. We did not own a car but I was a keen biker. Every Sunday morning when the boat would arrive from Uganda carrying bananas, I would go on my bike to the port and buy one or two large hanging clusters of bananas and take them home on my bike. I was about 13-years-old. Those were the days!

I still love eating bananas. Individual banana fruit is 75 per cent water and 25 per cent dry matter. Cooking bananas represent a major food source and a major income source for many farmers.

The highest consumption of bananas is in countries such as Uganda, Burundi, and Rwanda. The majority of bananas North Americans eat come from Latin and South America. However, they are grown in more than 100 countries with tropical climates.

Bananas are perhaps best known for their potassium count, that governs heart rate, blood pressure, and nerve and muscle function. The body carefully maintains levels of potassium and sodium to keep fluid levels in balance.

A banana can help prevent muscle cramps after exercise, says Hutson. They also provide a good source of vitamins C and B6, as well as magnesium.

An average banana also contains about three grams of fiber, which can help provide a feeling of fullness plus aid the digestion process. These insoluble fiber components help maintain healthy gut bacteria and enzymes needed to digest foods and benefit the immune system.

Bananas are very convenient and portable – in their own sealed package. Simply grab and go for a quick mini breakfast or snack.

Banana is a portable fruit like an apple. It can be carried with you when you go to work, go for a walk or go biking and jogging. Enjoy!

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