5 health benefits of bananas - Women's Running

five health benefits of bananas

Author: Chris Macdonald

Read Time:   |  May 26, 2017


Bananas have long been a favourite source of energy for runners. They’re portable and packed with nutrients to help fuel your run and improve recovery. Here are five health benefits of bananas for runners:

1. Energy boost

Bananas are a great source of easy-to-digest carbohydrates – this makes them particularly useful for a fast energy boost. A medium-sized banana contains around 105 calories and 27g carbohydrates. Eating a banana before a run is a great way to provide additional fuel without digestive discomfort. Research conducted at Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab in the US found that performance during intense exercise was just as good when cyclists consumed bananas as it was when they consumed sports drinks.

2. Full of potassium

Bananas are particularly useful for runners because of their high potassium content. Potassium plays an essential role in muscle function, and deficiencies in potassium can lead to cramping and discomfort. A medium- sized banana contains 422mg potassium, around 12% of the Recommended Daily Amount.

3. Great source of manganese

Another nutrient rich in bananas is manganese. This mineral plays a role in bone development and is also important for protein metabolism and energy production. This makes it particularly useful for flagging energy levels and boosting performance.

4. Beat PMS

If you struggle with pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) then bananas are a great choice. Rich in vitamin B6 – there have been a number of studies showing the effectiveness of vitamin B6 on PMS. This may be because it plays a role in the production of certain brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that control your mood and behaviour.

5. Soak it up

Bananas may also help your body absorb nutrients better. This is because they are a rich source of fructooligosaccharide, a prebiotic that provides food for the friendly bacteria in our gut. These probiotic bacteria are involved in the production of certain vitamins and digestive enzymes that boost the absorption of nutrients.

Bananas can be added to your diet in so many ways and make a perfect snack on the go. Try adding slices to your morning porridge, blend into a smoothie, protein shake or simply place frozen banana chunks in a food processor to make instant ice cream. To boost energy levels through the day, try eating a banana with some peanut butter or a handful of nuts. Over-ripe bananas are perfect in breads and muffins. Try our banana bread recipe for a delicious healthy option.

Chris Macdonald

Editor-at-Large, Women's Running

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