Sometimes we get so caught up in the search for the newest health superstar that we forget about the old faithful foods that have kept us kicking. While it’s exciting to hear about the latest miracle berry from the dark corners of some remote jungle, we’ve had superstars in our kitchen all along.
With little fanfare and few headlines, these kitchen mainstays have faithfully brought nutrition and wellness to our lives. In this series, entitled Simple Nutrition, I’m going to talk about these common and underrated foods. First up in Simple Nutrition, bananas, and why you should be loving them, plus 4 yummy recipes.
One medium banana has about 422mg of potassium to only 1mg of sodium. In our over-salted society, we need all the potassium we can get (source). Potassium is a critical electrolyte. It keeps your blood pressure in check (source), regulates your heart function, and is good for your cardiovascular health (source).
Other important nutrients
Bananas are also rich in several other nutrients with 10mg (17%) of Vitamin C, 0.3 mg (16%) of manganese, 0.4 mg (22%) B6, 21.9 mg (8%) magnesium, and a respectable 23.6 mcg (6%) of folate.
Bananas keep your energy going
With a solid 27 grams of carbohydrates and 14 grams of sugar, bananas are the perfect food to get you going for a busy day or a solid workout. They also make a nice post workout snack. I actually give my daughter a banana before a playdate to delay the inevitable playdate crash. If I’ve got a ton of things to do and no time to make food I’ll eat a banana to keep me going until I can grab a solid meal. Let’s not forget how awesomely portable they are.
Tummies love bananas
One medium banana has about 12% of your daily fiber quota. The resistant starch in bananas also acts as a prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria in your gut. The soluble fiber will also help keep things moving along. Finally bananas are easy to digest making them great for tummies everywhere.
There is an exception, because of higher sugar content diabetic should exercise caution until you know how bananas affect you. This is also true if you are on a low potassium diet.
They make a great first food and kids snack
Baby’s love bananas because they can be mashed and are naturally sweet. As a baby my daughter would devour them in a pinch. If you are a mom looking for a healthy first food or snack for a ravenous preschooler, look no further than the banana.
Should you buy organic or not
In general I try to make sure most of my food is organic, including bananas. On the EWG list of pesticide contaminated food , with number 1 being the most contaminated and number 50 being least, bananas sit in the 30th spot. BUT according to the Pesticide Action Network bananas have 11 pesticides (source). Four of these pesticides are suspected hormone disruptors and two of which are neurotoxins. Eek!
The official Filtered Family position is to buy organic so as to avoid additional toxins. That said organic bananas are still fairly cheap. I pay .30 cents per organic banana at Trader Joes. Costco is even cheaper. So in this case, the cost of organic isn’t prohibitive. So I suggest you buy them organic when you can.
What can you do with bananas?
Bananas are great to work with. I use them in my smoothies. Dip them in dark chocolate and freeze them for banana pops. Make non-dairy banana ice cream by blending and freezing. And let’s not forget (gluten free) banana bread. These beauties are so versatile.
There you have it! A whole bunch of reasons why you should be loving bananas. They are nutrient dense, energy rich, and portable.
If you want to read more about affordable nutrition check out my last post, Simple and Affordable Nutrition: The Humble Carrot. You can also read more about budget friendly healthy eating in my post, 12 Simple Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget.
What are your favorite banana recipes? Do you have a banana health story? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: None of the health topics presented on Filtered Family have been evaluated or approved by the FDA. They should not replace personal judgment nor medical treatment when indicated, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always talk to your naturopathic physician or M.D. about the use of these or any other complimentary modalities. Reading this website denotes your understanding and agreement to our full disclaimer.