Bananas help keep you hydrated
How the heck can a solid food aid in hydration? Potassium plays a part here by helping regulate the balance of fluids in your body, especially the electrolytes you lose (like sodium, magnesium, calcium, and yes—potassium) after a ride. Moderate to intense activity can cause small cellular changes in potassium, and athletes are encouraged to eat potassium rich foods to counteract these imbalances, according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Bananas are good for your gut
One medium banana has three grams of filling fiber (about 10 percent of your daily intake). Bananas also contain prebiotics, a type of fermentable fiber that helps the good bacteria in your gut (also know as probiotics) thrive. That’s a big win for your overall health, since research suggests these beneficial bugs may improve digestion, shorten the duration of your cold, and even aid in weight loss.
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Bananas are the perfect pre-workout fuel
The best foods to eat before you work out are the ones that contain natural sugars (carbs) for energy, but aren’t too harsh on your stomach. Bananas check off both of those boxes, and are portable enough to throw in a gym bag. Plus, research suggests that bananas have unique compounds that can enhance athletic performance.
… and they may help boost post-workout recovery
On the flip side, bananas may be beneficial after your workout, too. One small 2018 study published in the journal PLOS One found that certain compounds and phytochemicals in bananas could play an effective role in reducing exercise-induced inflammation—which spurs muscle soreness—after a tough bout of endurance training (in this case, intense cycling).
Bananas are good for your heart
Put another point in the potassium column, because this important mineral is vital for your heart. Research shows that eating lots of potassium is associated with significantly lower blood pressure levels and a decreased risk of stroke. That’s because potassium helps flush excess heart-stressing sodium from your body through your urine, reducing the potential damage it may have on your ticker.
Bananas can replace sugar in baked goods
One of the best reasons to eat bananas is the naturally sweet taste and soft texture that makes them an ideal ingredient in many baked goods. You can’t sub in bananas for sugar in every recipe, but you sure can look for recipes that have already done that work for you.
Bananas are rich in vitamin B6
While vitamin B6 doesn’t see the spotlight all that often, it’s an essential vitamin for a reason. Bananas contain nearly one third of your daily value of vitamin B6, which is important for brain development during pregnancy and enzyme reactions involved in metabolism. Most Americans don’t seem to fall short on their intake, but it doesn’t hurt to eat foods that are naturally rich in the nutrient.
Bananas might keep your appetite in check
No one food will take away the hanger after skipping a meal. However, eating a banana as part of a well-balanced diet may help curb your cravings. Bananas contain a type of fiber called resistant starch, which seems to help people eat fewer calories and manage their appetite, studies show. While more research needs to be done to understand the link, one medium banana only packs about 100 calories and is super satisfying due to its fiber content, so need to feel guilty about adding one to your breakfast smoothie, peanut butter sandwich, or post-dinner yogurt parfait.