Find out what happens to the girl who eats too many bananas… It sounds like the tagline to a cheesy B-movie. But with the incredible worldwide popularity of bananas – they are grown in 107 countries and represent the fourth most valuable crop globally – it’s smart to take a deeper look at their nutritional make-up.
Bananas are big business, but are they good business?
While bananas are full of healthy potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and B6, they aren’t recommended for everyone.
And since there can be too much of any good thing, stick with us to the end to find out just how many bananas are too many.
Banana Benefit #1: Get Your Potassium in a Tasty Package
Potassium is a critical nutrient that is found in every cell of the body, used to generate the electrical charge that keeps cells functioning correctly. It also helps to keep your heart rate steady, triggers release of insulin to control blood sugar, and supports an optimal blood pressure.
Healthy adults are encouraged to consume between 3,500-4,700mg of potassium per day, depending on lifestyle and other factors. An average banana contains about 450mg of this vital nutrient.
Banana Benefit #2: Support Healthy Blood Pressure
Most of us think primarily about sodium when we want to lower our blood pressure. In reality, it is a delicate balance of sodium and potassium that supports a healthy blood pressure.
It’s estimated that fewer than 2% of all US adults meet the recommended daily intake of potassium, which means that this critical balance is way off for many of us.
Banana Benefit #3: Lower Cancer Risk
Eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies lowers cancer risk overall because these foods are nutrient-rich without the addition of troubling salt, refined sugar, chemical preservatives, and food dyes.
Bananas in particular are a good source of vitamin C, which helps to strike down the formation of cancer-causing free radicals. Their high fiber content is also thought to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
Banana Benefit #4: Boost Heart Health
Sodium also negatively affects the heart. Boosting potassium while reducing sodium is probably the single most important change you can make to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
One study has indicated that people who take in at least 4,069mg of potassium per day have a staggering 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease than those who consume less than 1,000mg. Bananas boost heart health in other ways, too: the fiber, vitamin C, and B6 in bananas are all critical to a strong heart.
Banana Benefit #5: Sooth Tummy Troubles
Doctors still recommend the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) for people with digestive distress.
Not only are bananas relatively bland and easy to digest, they replace vital electrolytes like potassium that are lost in large quantities during bouts of diarrhea. The fiber content of bananas also helps to promote regularity.
Who Should NOT Eat Bananas Daily?
People who are taking beta blockers for heart disease should eat bananas in moderation because beta blockers cause potassium levels to increase. Too much potassium is also dangerous for people whose kidneys are not functioning optimally.
It is also thought that bananas can trigger migraines in people who are susceptible to them, so stick to half a banana daily if this is you.
And finally, some people are allergic to bananas, so avoid them entirely if you find they cause symptoms like itching, swelling, hives, or wheezing.
Banana Overdose Levels
The recommended amount of daily potassium varies from person to person, but in general, you would need to eat about 7 or 8 bananas to get all of your daily potassium from that source alone.
And while too much potassium can have a disastrous effect on your heart, it would take about 400 bananas a day for a healthy person to reach the danger zone!
Potassium is a vital component of any healthy diet and bananas are a great source of it. Studies have shown that a high potassium intake offers up to a 20% lower risk of dying from all causes!
When considering your daily intake, remember that many other foods offer even higher levels of potassium than bananas, including sweet and white potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, spinach, beets, black and white beans, salmon, edamame, butternut squash, Swiss chard, and plain yogurt.
But if you’re generally healthy and eat a well balanced diet, there’s no reason not to enjoy a banana or 10 every day.