Health And Family

Two bananas a day keep the doctor away

MIND YOUR BODY - Dr. Willie T. Ong -

Mang Ruben, a 48-year-old taxi driver, has been eating 10 to 15 bananas a day for the past 25 years. Mang Ruben believes that he can work longer hours and stay stronger because of his banana diet. “Apples and oranges are too expensive, but I can afford to buy bananas every day,” he says.

Based on my clinical examination, Mang Ruben is indeed in the pink of health. Maybe his intake of bananas contributed to his overall health.

According to nutritionist Michael Van Straten, author of The Healthy Food Directory, bananas are very healthy because they can alleviate 14 medical conditions, including diarrhea, fatigue, heartburn, insomnia, nausea, menstrual problems, kidney problems, fluid retention, and circulatory problems.

What’s In A Banana?

A small-sized, 6.5-inch banana (lakatan variety) contains the following: weight: 100 grams; calories: 90; vitamin A: 64 I.U.; vitamin B: .04 mg. thiamine; vitamin C: 10 mg/; calcium: 8 mg.; iron: 0.4 mg.; phosphorus: 28 mg; potassium: 360 mg.; magnesium: 27 mg.; zinc: 0.2 mg.; carbohydrates: 23 g.; and protein: 1.2 mg.

Among the banana varieties, the lakatan type (yellowish and tastier) has a higher vitamin content, compared to the latundan (white with thinner skin) and saba varieties (used for bananacue). Compared to apples, bananas have so much more vitamin A and vitamin C. Based on these nutritional values, we could make a case for banana as a natural multivitamin.

10 Benefits Of Eating A Banana

1) Bananas protect against heartburns. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemisty (February, 2001) attests to the anti-ulcer properties of the banana. Bananas act like a natural antacid to the stomach. In this article, they identified the secret component in the banana, the flavonoid leucocyanidin. Studies show that bananas can protect against aspirin-induced gastritis and significantly increase the mucous membrane lining of the stomach.

2) Bananas are high in fiber and vitamins. A single banana contains 16 percent of the dietary fiber, 15 percent of the vitamin C, 11 percent of the potassium, and 20 percent of the vitamin B6 recommended each day.

Sorry, apple lovers, but apples have zero amount of vitamin C. Bananas also have soluble fiber, which may help lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

3) Bananas are good for the heart. Potassium is an essential mineral needed to regulate water balance, acidity level, and blood pressure of the body. A lack of potassium may cause muscle weakness and irregular heartbeat. For patients taking a diuretic medicine, they should take two bananas a day to keep the potassium level up. Take note also that bananas have zero sodium (good for high blood pressure) and zero fat and cholesterol (good for those with high cholesterol).

4) Bananas may reduce strokes. Numerous studies have shown that low potassium levels can cause heart palpitations, which can then lead to a stroke. In the editorial of the prestigious Neurology Journal, the author suggests that a banana a day may keep a stroke away. Among the fruits and vegetables, bananas contain one of the highest amounts of potassium.

5) Bananas help counter stress and insomnia. Bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone that is known to make you feel happy and improve your mood. If you feel sad, don’t despair. Take a banana and be happy.

6) Diabetics may take bananas in moderation. Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep the blood sugar normal. The food-and-nutrition glycemic index rating for a ripe, yellow banana is 51, which is fairly good. This means that the carbohydrates in a banana have a medium-to-slow effect in raising your blood sugar levels. However, as bananas ripen, the starch in the fruit turns to sugar and may cause your blood sugar to rise more. The lesson is: It’s okay to eat a banana, but not the overripe one.

7) Bananas fights fatigue and anemia. Bananas contain carbohydrates and thus boost our energy, as Mang Ruben will attest. Have you seen Roger Federer eat a banana between games? The high potassium content prevents cramps and provides instant energy with its easily digestible starch. Bananas are also a rich source of iron, thus it is helpful for patients with anemia.

8) Bananas may prevent leukemia. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology by Kwan et al. (Dec. 2004, pp. 1098-107) shows an association between regular consumption of bananas and oranges in children from ages 0 to 2 and a reduction in childhood leukemia. The result suggests that fruits or fruit juices containing vitamin C and potassium may reduce the risk of childhood leukemia, especially if consumed at a young age.

9) Bananas may prevent childhood asthma. A European study of 2,640 primary school children in South London concludes that eating bananas at least once a day reduces episodes of wheezing and asthma attacks in children (European Respiratory Journal, Feb. 14, 2007). Eating apples and other fruits was not as beneficial. Also, eating only one banana a month was not effective. Note to moms: It’s time to teach our kids to eat one banana a day.

10) It’s Filipino and the best news about the lowly banana is that it’s cheap. That is why Mang Ruben can buy a bunch or two a day. And it comes in a great package. A banana can fit cleanly in your bag. Just cut it high up in the stem. When you feel hungry and stressed, reach for a banana.

The only downside with bananas is that some people may become constipated. If this is the case, then maybe you can mix your bananas with other fruits like papaya and watermelon to loosen your bowels. Taking in lots of water also helps.

Personally, bananas have helped me a lot with my irritable bowel syndrome. I hope you can discover the wonders of the banana and add it to your daily diet. It just might cure you of your medical problems.

Remember: Two bananas a day may keep the doctor away.

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