Bananas are one of the most easily accessible foods in the UK - available at every supermarket, corner shop and even most coffee shops. Bananas are the third best-selling item in supermarkets, with only petrol and lottery tickets beating it to the top spot.1
Bananas stopped being imported during World War 2, making them a scarce and much-desired fruit; in fact, a popular wartime song included the lyric “when can I have a banana again” demonstrating just how desired these yellow fruits were.1
In 1945, a Thomas Fyffe ship delivered 10 million unripe bananas from Jamaica to the UK, specifically for children to enjoy who had never seen or eaten a banana before.1
So, just how good for you are bananas? Do they live up to the hype? Let's find out!
Bananas and Gut Health
Bananas can be a fantastic food for the gut due to their high pectin levels.2 Pectin is a soluble fibre, helping to normalise bowel movements and make you feel more full - reducing over-eating and the risk of obesity somewhat.
Bananas are full of resistant starch, meaning they act as a prebiotic; food for the good bacteria in the gut.2 Good bacteria need a food source in order to survive and multiply, otherwise, there is more room for the bad bacteria to thrive and cause ill health.
Bananas and Overall Health
Soluble fibre is able to reduce the amount of LDL (bad cholesterol) that enters your bloodstream.3 If the cholesterol isn’t able to enter the bloodstream, it cannot clog arteries and cause health issues!
Just 5-10 grams of soluble fibre can have this amazing effect on cholesterol levels,4 and whilst a banana has only 0.6 grams of soluble fibre, every little helps, right?!
Bananas also contain inulin, a great stimulant for the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Inulin is a prebiotic that acts as a food source for good bacteria, just like resistant starch.
Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome can benefit your overall health as it improves the absorption of vitamins and minerals as well as better digesting food and removing toxins from the body.5
Inulin helps the bacteria to create vital substances like short-chain fatty acids and vitamins that improve your overall health.5
The mineral potassium is essential for heart health and maintaining normal levels of blood pressure, and bananas are full of the stuff. One banana contains around 0.4grams of potassium, and 1.3-1.4grams of potassium a day has been linked to a 26% reduction in the risk of heart disease.6
Bananas contain 2% of the vitamin A you need per day; vitamin A is important for eye health, immune system function, growth, development and reproduction. It also helps your organs to function properly, making it vital for health.7
Vitamin C helps you to heal by repairing tissues around the body, and bananas contain a whopping 15% of your daily recommended dose.
It really helps your body to function properly, including forming collagen, absorbing iron, immune system function and the growth, development and maintenance of bones, teeth and cartilage.8
How is it Best to Eat Bananas
As your bananas ripen, the sugar content increases. This means consuming a banana that is unripe or just-ripe is technically better for you, although in moderation any high sugar food is ok.
At 105 calories per banana, they are a higher calorie fruit than most, but their nutritional content makes them a great choice and will keep you fuller for longer.9
Cooking a banana doesn’t actually reduce the nutritional value, due to minerals being very good at withstanding heat. This means you can enjoy bananas raw or cooked without reducing the goodness they contain!
So, are bananas good for gut health? Yes! Bananas are a fantastic source of nutrition for not only the gut but all parts of the body. No wonder they were so missed during the war when shipping stopped! We will be adding bananas to our weekly shop, will you?