They're cheap, delicious and easy to chuck in your bag as a snack for later, so why has the humble banana gotten a bit of a bad wrap lately? People assume bananas are high in carbs, sugar and calories, but we asked accredited dietitian and nutritionist Jemma O'Hanlon to bust these myths and give us her professional opinion on bananas. Here are seven reasons why bananas are the ultimate healthy snack.
1. They're low in calories
Bananas contain about 92 calories, or 386 kilojoules, which is way lower that other processed snacks like biscuits or cookies. Plus, they're all-natural, so they're "healthy because you're consuming one of your two serves of fruit," Jemma said. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend we eat two pieces of fruit a day, so eating a banana is an easy way to meet this benchmark.
2. They're portion-controlled
"Bananas come as a single serve, so they're already portion-controlled," Jemma said, so they're impossible to overeat.
3. They're sustainable
If you're trying to be more environmentally-friendly with your grocery shopping and avoid plastic packaging, trying to buy fruit and vegetables at your local supermarket can feel like banging your head against the wall. But Jemma says bananas "are amazing from a sustainability perspective", because "they have their own biodegradable wrapper" - their skin! This "wrapper" means bananas are "very convenient", because you can just chuck them in your bag and go, no meal prepping required.
4. They're great for the gut
Like most fruits and vegetables, bananas are high in carbohydrates.
But unlike unhealthy carbs like processed white bread, pasta or cakes, bananas are low GI, meaning they keep you fuller for longer.
"There's a myth out there that you shouldn't eat bananas because they're high in sugar, but that's ridiculous," Jemma said.
"Bananas have a GI of 47 and anything below 55 is classed as low GI. They are digested and absorbed slower in the body and provide long-lasting fuel."
5. So they're a perfect pre-workout snack
"They're particularly great for women who want something before a workout for an energy boost, if they want to hit the ground running before the gym," Jemma said.
"After the gym, I'll often make a smoothie with milk, yoghurt, a frozen banana and honey. It's a great way to fuel your body post workout."
6. Bananas are even healthier when they're over-ripe
If the bananas sitting on your kitchen bench haven't quite ripened yet, don't worry. This actually means they're even better for you!
"When bananas are a little bit under ripe, they contain a nutrient called resistant starch," Jemma said.
"There's a lot of evidence about resistant starch. It has been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer and is great for gut health. It acts as a broom in the digestive system and cleans out all the junk that can get stuck in there and.
"Resistant starch is a type of dietary fibre, so having a banana that is a little bit under ripe is not a bad thing. Australians aren't eating enough fibre and resistant starch, so eating a banana is an easy way to get those nutrients."
7. If your bananas are black and bruised, they can still have a purpose!
If you've neglected your bananas and they're now too ripe to eat fresh, peel them and chuck them in the freezer to pop into smoothies or simply eat on their own,
"When bananas go black and you put them in the freezer, they turn into a natural icy pole," Jemma said.
"They are so yummy and a much healthier snack than any cookie or chocolate bar."
Rebecca Sullivan is a contemporary
American photographer and blogger
The article appeared in MNN.
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