As far as healthy foods go, bananas may not be the most trendy or glamorous, but they have a lot to offer. Bananas used to be known as “the world’s perfect food” due to their abundant nutrient content, and they shouldn’t go ignored. The fruit is not only rich in nutrients, but it also makes a great snack. You can take it on the go and eat it plain, or you can use it in a wide range of recipes. Plus, they make a great pre-Aaptiv workout snack!
“Bananas get a really bad reputation because people think they have too much sugar, but in reality, they are packed with vitamins and minerals and have way less sugar than a candy bar,” says Registered Dietitian Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD.
If you’re a fan of the fruit, you might be wondering what it’s bringing to the table, other than acting as a great smoothie ingredient. Here’s everything you need to know about the nutrition in bananas.
Nutrition Facts (1 medium banana)
Total fat .4 g
Saturated fat 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 g
Sodium 1 mg
Potassium 422 mg
Total carbohydrate 27 g
Dietary fiber 3.1 g
Sugar 14 g
Protein 1.3 g
Calcium 6 mg
Iron .31 mg
Magnesium 32 mg
Phosphorus 26 mg
Zinc .18 mg
Vitamin C 10.3 mg
Thiamin .037 mg
Riboflavin .086 mg
Niacin .785 mg
Vitamin B-6 .433 mg
Folate 24 µg
Vitamin A, RAE 4 µg
Vitamin A, IU 76 IU
Vitamin E .12 mg
Vitamin K .6 µg
They provide pre-workout fuel
For an extra boost, bananas make a great snack before a workout. “The natural sugar in bananas provides energy for exercise and is great pre-workout fuel,” says Rizzo. “Plus, the potassium helps with hydration, so many runners eat bananas before or after a race.”
They’re high in potassium
Bananas are most well-known for their potassium content, as one banana contains about ten percent of the daily recommended amount. “Potassium is important for cardiovascular health, bone strength, and muscle strength,” says Rizzo. “Research finds that eating foods high in potassium may be just as important for lowering blood pressure as reducing salt in your diet.”
They make a great sugar replacement
If you’re someone who likes to bake, you can use bananas as a replacement for sugar. “Since bananas are naturally sweet and soft, they can replace the sugar in baked goods,” says Rizzo. “It’s not always a one-to-one ratio, but look for recipes that have bananas baked in.”
They are high in fiber
One medium banana contains about ten percent of your daily fiber. “Bananas contain mostly two types of fiber: pectin and resistance starch,” says Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Megan Casper, MS, RDN, CD. “Both are found in firm, less ripe bananas and feed beneficial bacteria, which has been linked to reduced risks for colon cancer.”
They’re a good source of prebiotics
Slightly unripened bananas are a great source of prebiotics—non-digestible carbohydrates that foster healthy gut bacterial balance. “Prebiotics work by way of supplying food to probiotics, which are more well-known for their health benefits in relation to the GI tract,” says Registered Dietitian Lauren Cornell, MS, RD. This helps with nutrient absorption, hormone balance, and the synthesis of vitamins in the gut.
They can soothe your stomach
“By way of their electrolyte content, prebiotic/fiber content, and alkaline nature, bananas can soothe gastrointestinal discomfort,” says Cornell. “They have been known to help relieve diarrhea, constipation, and general stomach discomfort.”
Try a banana before your next Aaptiv workout.
Chocolate Banana Pancakes
(recipe from Kale Me Maybe. Makes two small/medium pancakes. Serves one.)
1 ripe banana
1 heaping tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks
- In a medium bowl, mash your banana with a fork, and mix thoroughly with eggs. Once it’s consistent, mix in cocoa powder. If you want your pancake batter super smooth, you can blend the banana, eggs, and cocoa powder together in a blender or food processor.
- Heat up coconut oil up in a large pan on medium heat. Pour batter into circle shapes, dropping a few chocolate chunks onto each.
- Flip once the pancakes begin to firm up, after one to two minutes.. Pancakes should rise and puff up. Cook for another one to two minutes on the other side. Serve warm.