By: Tara Paras
For a lot of athletes, bananas are a convenient and tasty source of energy and electrolytes. What most people don’t know, however is that this humble tropical fruit is actually an amazing superfood that carries an impressive array of health benefits.
Simply put, bananas are not just a nice sweet treat, they also provide the body with several nutrients that have been proven to relieve depression, promote regularity of bowel movement and boost brain function.
Improves your mood and fight off depression
Bananas are a plentiful source of tryptophan, an essential nutrient that cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained from the diet. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, the neurotransmitter that is essential for a calm and balanced mood. Depression is linked to low levels of serotonin, which is why it is essential that its precursor chemicals be present.
Bananas are also an excellent source of Vitamin B6, which studies show help fight depression. When combined with supplements, Vitamin B6 in bananas have a more pronounced, positive effect on depression, according to a study quoted in an article from Rodale News.
Promotes regularity and soothes the gastrointestinal tract
Additionally, bananas are an excellent source of dietary fiber, essential for maintaining regularity of bowel movement. Bananas soothe the gastrointestinal tract and have antacid and mild antibacterial properties.
“Bananas help restore normal bowel function, especially if you have diarrhea,” explains one report. “This fruit also has lots of fiber to aid digestion.”
Enhances mental power
Potassium is one of the micronutrients found specifically abundant in bananas. Potassium is an electrolyte that is indispensable for heart and kidney function. In addition, a lack of potassium can lead to “brain fog” and other cognitive problems, as brain neurons rely on high levels of the nutrient to effectively perform.
“After 20 days of supplementation with potassium, the levels of harmful free radicals decreased significantly, reducing the amount of oxidative damage that occurred in the test subjects. Because oxidative damage leads to decreased brain function, potassium counteracts this effect and prevents brain damage,” reads an SFGate report on potassium and memory.
Calms the nervous system
Bananas are also a superb source of five B-vitamins – thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6) and folate (B9). B-vitamins are incredibly important in producing new cells and maintaining existing ones, as they form an essential part of many of the body’s biochemical processes. Bananas contain useful amounts of these B vitamins, ranging from 785 micrograms of niacin to 24 micrograms of folate in one medium banana.