Go Bananas!

May 14, 2008 | May 2008, Nutrition

It’s Good for You

by Fran Werner

Bananas contain three natural sugars (sucrose, fructose and glucose) combined with fiber that give an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the No. 1 fruit with the world’s leading athletes.

Providing energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep fit: It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: Bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills; eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and help in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to help beat blood pressure — so much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

 High in fiber, bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach, and, with the help of the honey, it builds up depleted blood sugar levels while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
 Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking and tobacco use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6 and B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water balance.

According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40 percent.

Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape.

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrates, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around. So maybe it’s time to change that well-known phrase and now say, “A banana a day keeps the doctor away!”

Healthful Banana Cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 36

3 ripe bananas
2 Cups rolled oats
1 Cup dates, pitted and chopped
1/3 Cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Stir in oats, dates, oil and vanilla. Mix well, and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven or until lightly brown.

Nutritional information (per one-cookie serving): Calories: 58, Carbohydrates: 8 g., Dietary Fiber: 1 g.,
Fat: 2 g., Protein: 0 g., Sugars: 5 g.

Recipe submitted by K. Gailbrath, courtesy www.allrecipes.com.

Fran Werner is a certified lifestyle and weight management consultant, a certified personal trainer, and a certified lifestyle coach, specializing in weight management. She has been the owner/director of Lifestyle Consulting since 1981, and has maintained an office in Austin, Texas since 1993. Werner has helped thousands of individuals achieve and maintain healthy weights and healthy lifestyles. You can contact her at (512) 794-3848 or at stfh@lifestyleconsulting.com. Visit her Web site, www.lifestyleconsulting.com. Werner’s weight management program is now available on CD, www.thelifestyleprogram.com.

South Texas Fitness & Health