Power Foods: The Banana
Bananas give an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy, as they contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose. According to researchers, just two bananas can provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout.
But energy isn't the only way that a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help to ease or prevent a number of illnesses and conditions, so a banana a day can replace the old saying of 'an apple a day' if you have a high energy lifestyle that goes with keeping in shape.
According to a recent survey from the MIND organization among people suffering from depression, many felt better after eating a banana. This is explained by the fact that bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that is converted into serotonin in the body, and this is known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally put you in a happier state of mind.
The vitamin B6 in bananas regulates blood glucose levels, which affect mood, particularly in cases of PMS.
Because they are high in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood, and so helps in cases of anemia.
Bananas are extremely high in potassium, but low in salt (sodium), making it a perfect food for those suffering from high blood pressure. The FDA even allows the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
An experiment among 200 schoolchildren in England showed that eating a banana at breakfast, mid-morning and lunch increases alertness and improves exam performance.
Now we get to the fundamentals: the high fiber in bananas can help restore normal bowel action, easing cases of constipation without the use of laxatives.
One of the quickest ways to overcome a hangover is to consume a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, restores depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your body. Bananas have a natural antacid effect too, so if you suffer from heartburn, eat a banana for soothing relief.
If you get a mosquito bite, instead of applying the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. In most cases it will reduce swelling and irritation.
Studies of 5000 people at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found a link between obesity and stress at work, which leads to over-eating of foods like chocolate and chips. They concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady. The ideal food? Bananas! Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain, and regulates our body's water balance. Under stress our metabolic rate rises, which reduces potassium levels. These can be re-balanced with a banana snack.
The banana is used as a dietary food in cases of intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.
Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 potassium and magnesium they contain all help the body to recover from nicotine withdrawal.
Compared with an apple, a banana has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrates, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice most other vitamins and minerals. It is rich in potassium and a cheap source of all these good things.
A real Power Food!