Banana is one of the most widely eaten fruits in the world, which is readily recognised because of its distinctive shape and bright colours. It abounds in hundreds of edible varieties that fall under two distinct species: the sweet banana (Musa sapienta, Musa nana)

and plantain (Musa paradisiacal). So often, many people overlook banana when it comes to providing nutritional and medicinal value. Bananas like apples have proven health benefits. Ironically, bananas have more nutrients and vitamins than apples.

Its consumption can help people live healthier and more active lives through taking advantage of the energy and health benefits it can provide. Like most fruits, the banana is a healthful food that can be eaten without any problem but it contains some sugar; diabetics should consult with a physician or dietician to determine if bananas should be included in a diet that aims to reduce the consumption of carbohydrates. However, plantain has very little sugar and therefore good for diabetics. Anyone with an allergy to bananas should also avoid the fruits to minimize the risk of an allergic reaction. Deatils of the benefits are discussed below.

1. Keep blood pressure under check/Reduce risk of stroke Bananas are very rich in potassium yet almost completely devoid of sodium, and as such very well suitable to preventing high levels of blood pressure from overcoming the body. Blood pressure is one of the leading risk factors and indicator for heart disease. An average banana contains up to 500 milligrammes of potassium and around 1 milligramme of sodium. Since potassium has a lowering effect on blood pressure while sodium has a strengthening effect, this is a wonderful ratio to consume on a daily basis. A recent study suggests that eating three bananas a day cuts risk for stroke by 21 per cent. What is in a banana? The miracle ingredient is potassium, which reduces blood pressure, thus combating a leading cause of stroke.

2. Help to keep your bones strong and healthy. Potassium may counteract the increased urinary calcium loss caused by the high-salt diets, thus preventing bones from thinning out at a fast rate. This, according to University of Maryland Medical Centre and University of Kansas Medical Centre, reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

3. Reduce risk of anaemia Experiencing anaemia, try banana rather than blood forming. High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of haemoglobin in the blood and so help in cases of anaemia.

4.Reduce constipation One way to constipation is eating a banana a day. Bananas are rich in fibre that can help to restore normal bowel action, and overcome constipation without resorting to laxatives. A single serving (one medium-sized banana) contains 16 per cent of the daily recommended dietary fibre intake for a normal adult.

5.Soothe heart burn If suffering from heart burn, try eating a banana for its soothing relief. Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body.

6.Ease peptic ulcer pain Banana is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in people with stomach ulcer because of its soft texture and smoothness. Eating a raw banana also neutralises acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach. Aside this, other substances in bananas known as protease inhibitors get rid of bacteria in the stomach that produces stomach ulcers.

7.Lower cholesterol Pectin, a soluble fibre in banana facilitates reduction of cholesterol levels. Expert based on findings from various studies say its water-soluble fibres such as pectin, psyllium, guar gum and beta-glucan effectively lower LDL Cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) without causing any kind of disturbance to HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

8.Reduce risk of cancer Rich in antioxidants and dietary fibre, consumption of bananas reduce risk of various types of cancer especially cancer of the intestines.

9. Increase sexual drive This shapely and nutritious fruit is a complete meal, loaded with potassium, magnesium and B vitamins. It also contains chelating minerals and the bromelain enzyme, said to enhance the male libido — maybe that’s why Central Americans drink the sap of the red banana as an aphrodisiac, while Hindus regard it as a symbol of fertility. With high levels of potassium and vitamin B to increase sex hormone production in our bodies, bananas are very popular for an aphrodisiac; said to contribute to strong penile erection.

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