Going Bananas Over Bananas

Published in Feb. 28 of last year, here’s an article (and fruit) that all should consume…

Each morning for breakfast after I consume a cup of coffee and devour a bowl-full of cereal, I peel open fruits that are delicious, quick to digest, inexpensive.

Bananas. Are they good for us? For those who exercise? For athletes? I pose these questions because haven’t we all seen Lance Armstrong, midway through one of his Tour de France victories, snacking on a banana? Or Rafael Nadal, in between winning sets at the French Open, feasting on this yellow fruit?

I found the answers when an article, sent by Bobby Villareal, landed in my E-mail Inbox entitled, “A Banana A Day Keeps The Doctor Away.” A Banana A Day Keeps The Doctor Away? Wait, wait. Isn’t that supposed to be “an apple a day…?”

True. But today, the new apple is banana. Here’s why, says the article: “When you compare it (banana) to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, and five times the vitamin A and iron.”

That says it all. Using Google, I researched further all the facts enumerated in that e-mail and found the same write-up in dozens of websites—with no known author.

Why go gaga over bananas? “Bananas contain three natural sugars: sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber,” explained the article. “A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the no. 1 fruit with the world’s leading athletes.”

This is good reading. And if you think bananas are only good for sportsmen, think again—they also help prevent several illnesses. The article lists 19 health benefits. Here they are…

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a “cooling” fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking & Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassiu! m and ma gnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes: According to research in “The New England Journal of Medicine, ‘eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!

Finally, the article goes on to say: “Bananas must be the reason monkeys are so happy all the time! I will add one here; want a quick shine on our shoes? Take the inside of the banana skin, and rub directly on the shoe… then polish with dry cloth. Amazing fruit!”

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!


  1. Did you see the Maria Sharapova banana coaching incident during the US Open? That was a very interesting use of the banana as well.

  2. John
    I watched a tennis player chewing on a banana during a game and it got me thinking. So two years ago I decided to give it a try. I quietly gave my son Robert one before a game and I watched what happened. Put it this way it did n ot affect him adversely, so I decided to put the rest of the team on bananas for the rest of the season.
    The team that I was coaching was not an elite squad of players and many of them you would have to say were not adonis in their physical attributes. They would eat half a banana five to ten minutes before the start of the game and then consume the other half at half time.
    I expect a lot from the players and I drive them in the heat of the game to go for that extra effort when the occasion arises.
    The most signicant thing that I realised during the games was that NONE of my players went down with cramps even when playing in extra time. They also seemed to be able to sustain their intensity longer than had been the case prior to beginning the banana regime.
    So if you asked me I would say that the banana hype is correct.
    Maybe John in hindsight (it is 20/20 so they say) or as you now mount your program for next years marathon in Honkers maybe a backpack of bananas to consume during the run may help with the fatigue and cramps.
    Also it may reduce your opposition as you drop your skins behind you as you run. ?#?#?#?#

  3. I think it was her father and coach showing her a banana as she looked at them. It was caught on tv so the commentators alleged that it was coaching. Later when they interviewed her she said “at the end of the day my life is not about a banana”. She won that match.

  4. Hey John!
    I never knew banana’s do so much. I’ve been watching tennis and everytime I see the players eat a banana I always ask myself why do they eat that. I’ve always been saying to myself to look for an answer but I always forget. Thanks for writing this artice, its very helpful.

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