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14 science-backed health benefits of bananas
1. Fight insomnia.
Bananas are an excellent source of tryptophan. WebMD says to try eating one in the evening if you’re struggling with sleep. If you like peanut butter, you can spread a little on a banana for an added boost of tryptophan.
2. Regulate the stomach.
Bananas contain both prebiotics and probiotics, according to WebMD. Prebiotics are food for probiotics, helping your stomach keep alive and well the good bacteria that are necessary for proper digestion.
3. Bananas are packed with potassium
One medium banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium, or about 12 percent of your daily value of the mineral, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Your body needs plenty of potassium to operate normally. This electrolyte helps your muscles contract, nerves function, move nutrients into cells (and waste out of them), regulate your heartbeat, and regulate sodium in your body. So when you don’t get enough potassium, your blood pressure and kidney stone risk can increase, you may feel weak and tired, or even experience muscle cramps. (Here are other foods high in potassium.)
4. Bananas help keep you hydrated
How the heck can a solid food aid in hydration? Potassium plays a part here by helping regulate the balance of fluids in your body, especially the electrolytes you lose (like sodium, magnesium, calcium, and yes-potassium!) after a sweaty workout. Moderate to intense activity can cause small cellular changes in potassium, and athletes are encouraged to eat potassium-rich foods to counteract these imbalances, according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
5. Bananas are good for your gut
One medium banana has 3 grams of filling fiber (about 10 percent of your daily intake). Bananas also contain prebiotics, a type of fermentable fiber that helps the good bacteria in your gut (also know as probiotics) thrive. (Learn more about prebiotic vs. probiotic foods.) That’s a big win for your overall health since research suggests these beneficial bugs may improve digestion, shorten the duration of your cold, and even aid in weight loss.
6. Bananas are the perfect pre-workout fuel
The best foods to eat before you work out are the ones that contain natural sugars (carbs) for energy but aren’t too harsh on your stomach. Bananas check off both of those boxes and are portable enough to throw in a gym bag. Plus, research suggests that bananas have unique compounds that can enhance athletic performance.
7. Bananas may help boost post-workout recovery
On the flip side, bananas may be beneficial after your workout, too. One small 2018 study published in the journal PLOS One found that certain compounds and phytochemicals in bananas could play an effective role in reducing exercise-induced inflammation-which spurs muscle soreness-after a tough bout of endurance training (in this case, intense cycling).
8. Bananas can replace sugar in baked goods
One of the best reasons to eat bananas is the naturally sweet taste and soft texture that makes them an ideal ingredient in many baked goods. You can’t sub in bananas for sugar in every recipe, but you sure can look for recipes that have already done that work for you.