Runners are lucky to have access to a great pre-run, long run and post-run healthy fruit full of nutrients for very efficient fueling. Bananas are easy to eat and digest, for runners bananas usually don’t cause some digestive issues while running.
Bananas are incredibly healthy, delicious, and one of the most inexpensive fresh fruits we can buy. This makes them an excellent choice for anyone interested in eating healthy.
Bananas contain many essential nutrients for great energy and may benefit weight loss, digestion, heart health and overall health. So runners should appreciate having access to a great fueling type of fruit, and also the fact that bananas provide lots of health benefits.
11 Health Benefits of Bananas
1. Rich in Nutrients
Bananas contain a fair amount of fiber and several antioxidants.
Nutrients of one regular-sized banana- 126 grams:
Fat: 0 grams
Protein: 1 gram
Carbs: 29 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Vitamin C: 12% of the Daily Value (DV)
Riboflavin: 7% of the DV
Folate: 6% of the DV
Niacin: 5% of the DV
Copper: 11% of the DV
Potassium: 10% of the DV
Magnesium: 8% of the DV
One banana provides about 112 calories and consists almost exclusively of water and carbs. Bananas hold little protein and no fat.
The carbs in green, unripe bananas are mostly in the form of starch and resistant starch, a type of indigestible fiber we will get quickly. As the fruit ripens, the flavor becomes sweeter while the fiber content drops.
2. May Improve Blood Sugar Levels
Bananas are rich in soluble fiber. During digestion, soluble fiber dissolves in liquid to form a gel. It’s also what gives bananas their sponge-like texture .
Unripe bananas also contain resistant starch, which isn’t digested by our body.
Together, these two types of fiber may moderate our blood sugar levels after meals. They may help regulate our appetite by slowing the emptying of our stomach.
This means that despite their higher carb content, bananas won’t cause major spikes in blood sugar levels in healthy individuals.
3. May Support Digestive Health
Dietary fiber has been linked to many health benefits, including improved digestion. One medium-sized banana provides about 3 grams of fiber.
Resistant starch, the type of fiber found in unripe bananas, is a prebiotic. Prebiotics escape digestion and end up in your large intestine, where they become food for the beneficial bacteria in our gut.
Also, pectin, a fiber found in both ripe and unripe bananas, may help prevent constipation and soften stools.
4. Supports Weight Loss
This popular fruit does have several attributes that could make it a weight-loss friendly food.
First, bananas have relatively few calories. The average banana has just over 100 calories, but is very nutritious and filling .
Eating more fiber from vegetables and fruits has repeatedly been linked to lower body weight and weight loss.
Unripe bananas are packed with resistant starch, so they tend to be filling and reduce our appetite.
5. May Support Heart Health
Potassium is a mineral that’s vital for heart health, especially blood pressure management. Despite its importance, most people don’t get enough potassium in their diet.
Bananas are a great source of potassium, with a medium-sized banana (126 grams) providing 10% of the DV.
A potassium-rich diet can help lower our blood pressure. Also, according to some research, people who eat plenty of potassium have up to a 27% lower risk of heart disease.
Bananas contain 8% of the DV for magnesium, another mineral that’s important for heart health.
Magnesium deficiency may be linked to an increased risk of heart disease, elevated blood pressure, and high levels of fats in the blood. As such, it’s essential that we get enough of the mineral from our diet or supplements.
Both potassium and magnesium minerals are some of the main electrolytes runners need to consume during a run for good hydration and post-run for recovery.
6. Full of Antioxidants
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of dietary antioxidants, and bananas are no exception.
They contain several types of potent antioxidants, including flavonoids and amines.
These antioxidants are linked to many health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease and degenerative illnesses.
They help prevent oxidative damage to our cells caused by free radicals. Without antioxidants, free radicals can build up over time and cause health issues.
Runners who burn a lot of energy, glycogen and body fat, need lots of good antioxidant to refuel and provide the body’s essential nutrients
7. May Help Our Body Feel Fuller
The soluble fiber in bananas may help keep us full by adding bulk to your digestive system and slowing digestion.
Bananas are relatively low in calories for their size.
Combined, the low calorie and high fiber contents of bananas make them a more filling snack than other foods like processed or sugary snacks.
Protein is also filling, but bananas are low in this macronutrient. So, for runners who need a good hunger-fighting snack, eating a sliced banana with protein-rich foods like almond butter, or nuts, Greek yoghurt, or blend a banana into a good protein shake will provide a good source of protein.
8. Unripe Bananas May Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin resistance is a significant risk factor for several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes.
Several studies reveal that regularly eating resistant starch such as unripe bananas, may improve insulin sensitivity. This could make our body more responsive to this blood-sugar-regulating hormone.
9. May Improve Kidney Health
Kidney health issues are common with long-distance runners, and potassium is vital for healthy kidney function and blood pressure regulation.
As great dietary sources of potassium, bananas could be especially beneficial when it comes to keeping our kidneys healthy.
One study including over 5,000 people with early stage chronic kidney disease linked potassium to lower blood pressure and a slower progression of kidney disease.
On the other hand, some people with late stage kidney disease or who are on dialysis need to restrict their potassium intake.
10. May Support Pre-Run and Post-Run Recovery
Bananas are sometimes referred to as the perfect food for athletes. This is largely due to their content of easily digested carbs, as well as the minerals potassium and magnesium, both of which act as electrolytes.
We lose electrolytes through our sweat during vigorous training. Refueling our body with potassium and magnesium after sweating, for example by eating a banana, may reduce exercise-related muscle cramps and soreness.
Bananas provide excellent nutrition before, during, and after running or exercise.
11. Easy to Add to Our Diet
Bananas are not only incredibly healthy but also one of the most convenient snack foods around.
They make a great addition to yogurt, oatmeal, and smoothies, and they work a treat as a topping on whole grain bread with almond or peanut butter. We can even use bananas to replace sugar in our baking and cooking.
Bananas are likewise incredibly easy to eat and transport. They’re usually well tolerated and easily digested. All you need to do is peel them, and you’re good to go.
Eat a Good Banana, Feel Some Good Energy Level, Enjoy a Great Run!