The humble banana is actually something of a superfood, full of health benefits to leave you feeling fighting fit
1. Great healthy snack
Always get the 11 o'clock munchies? Or the 3 o'clock stomach rumbles? Rather than diving into the biscuit tin or raiding the last of the cake crumbs, grab a banana.
Bananas have just the right hint of sweetness to hit your sweet cravings but with a fraction of the calories you'll get from most snacks. Even a large banana has only about 120 calories.
But the best bit is that bananas contain lots of fibre, nutrients and minerals that will keep you energised and felling full for much longer than other, less healthy snacks. And there's none of those hidden junk-food nasties like added sugar, salt and processed fats.
2. Reduces your heart attack and stroke risk
Bananas are a great source of potassium, which is essential for a healthy heart – so much so that our hearts couldn’t beat without the stuff. Yet many of us don't have enough potassium in our diet.
Studies suggest that consuming less salt, and increasing our intake of potassium-rich foods can reduce high blood pressure and lower our risk of having a stroke, so be sure to fill up on more bananas alongside a healthy, balanced diet.
3. Helps you sleep
Struggle to drift off at night? It might sound daft, but have a banana before bed.
Bananas contain a natural chemical called tryptophan that can boost the sleep hormone, melatonin, to help you relax and gradually nod off at night.
4. Boosts your energy levels
The natural sugars that you get in bananas are brilliant for rocketing up your energy levels. This is why it's a good idea to eat a banana before you exercise. Not only will it give you the push to get you started, it'll also help keep your blood sugar levels consistent throughout so you don't get a sudden crash of energy.
Similarly, if you're feeling sluggish on an afternoon, try a banana as an instant pick-me-up that will take you through to teatime.
5. Improves your mood
Vitamin B6 that you get in bananas helps tryptophan convert into the happy hormone, serotonin to leave you chilled out and in a good mood.
Some studies suggest eating more bananas can raise serotonin levels in the brain and help reduce depressed feelings.
6. Protects your body against disease
All types of fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants, which protect cells in the body against damage from free radicals that can cause heart disease and cancer. So, eating more fruit and veg of any sort that takes your fancy has got to be a great idea.
So how many bananas should we aim for a day? Well scientists think it's best not to go too bananas as too much of the stuff can cause harm including some rather dicey digestive problems. Two bananas a day seems to be the optimum number for the maximum benefits.
7. Good for your eyes
Just like carrots bananas are also good for your eyes. They contain Vitamin A, which is essential for protecting your peppers, maintaining normal vision, but also for helping you see better at night. They can also protect the eyes against macular degeneration.
8. Nourishes your skin
Rich in powerful antioxidants, nutrients and phytochemicals, eating a banana a day can nourish and revitalise dry skin, as well as protect against free radicals that cause premature ageing. Bananas are also good for acne-prone skin. Vitamin A can help to fade scars and dark spots, while the zinc and lectin properties can fight against acne causing bacteria.
9. Helps fight heartburn and stomach ulcers
Bananas act as a natural antacid, providing relief from acid reflux and heartburn. They're also the only raw fruit that can be consumed to relieve stomach ulcers by coating the lining of the stomach against corrosive acids.