A Banana a Day ...

June 14, 2012

Sweet and creamy, bananas are one of America's favorite foods. A favorite source of energy for endurance and recreational athletes, bananas are a rich source of potassium and other nutrients, and come with their own natural packaging! They're a great choice for fitness enthusiasts of all levels. Recently, researchers from Appalachian State University's Human Performance Lab revealed even more benefits for atheletes. The researchers found that the bananas provided the cyclists with more antioxidants  and a bigger nutritional boost including fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6 than sports drinks. Bananas offer benefits to everyone:
  • Bananas are rich in potassium, a vital mineral for the maintenance of the heart and nervous system. Potassium is necessary for muscular activities including normal pumping of the heart, digestion, and muscular movement.  The potassium in bananas also benefits kidneys and bones and it suppresses calcium excretion in urine, minimizing the risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis. Most Americans don’t get enough potassium in their diet. Eating a banana every day will give you a leg up toward reaching that goal!
  • Bananas contain tryptophan, which helps the body produce serotonin. Serotonin has a soothing effect on the brain and actually acts as a mild sedative.
  • Bananas are an excellent source of vitamin B6, which plays an important role in converting tryptophan to serotonin, and the production of hemoglobin, a necessary component of blood. Essential for antibody production, vitamin B6 also helps maintain proper blood sugar levels by converting carbohydrates to glucose.
  • Bananas are part of the BRAT diet, BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice Cereal, Applesauce, and Toast, and is often recommended for children recovering from gastrointestinal problems.
  • Bananas are good source of dietary fiber, one medium-sized banana contains 16% of the daily recommended dietary fiber intake for a normal adult! Fiber-rich diets have also been linked to lower risk of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Bananas are an exceptionally rich source of the prebiotic fructooligosaccharide, which supports probiotic bacteria in the colon.
Toss a banana in your morning smoothie, slice it on top of your breakfast cereal, or eat it fresh from the peel! Bananas ... sweet, creamy and full of goodness!

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