As I'm sitting here, writing this post and drinking my ice cold water, my legs are burning...scratch that, throbbing and I am dreading the inevitable. There can be no doubt that one of the kids will be asking for some form of assistance in the very near future, thus forcing me to endure the excruciating pain of getting up. The cause of my discomfort stems from working my legs too hard at the gym. I am now simultaneously suffering and reveling in this agony. If this is what it takes to firm up that derriere---burn on.
While I suffer through this discomfort, the one food I find myself craving is a banana. This mellow yellow, sweet and dense, fruit is a fabulous present for all. I mean, it comes wrapped up from mother earth.
Bananas are one of the greatest fruit based sources of potassium and vitamin B6. Vitamin C and manganese are also found in bananas which provide antioxidant protection against free-radical damage to cellular structures.
Why should you care about potassium?
- Potassium helps your muscles and nerves function properly
- Helps lower your risk of high blood pressure
- Maintains the proper electrolyte and acid-base balance in your body
- Helps maintain calcium levels
Sweet fact about potassium...Potassium is an electrolyte, which means that it has a magical ability to produce electricity when dissolved in H2O. Since the body is mostly aqua and many physiological functions are ignited by this energy, potassium fulfills many crucial roles. The marriage of potassium and sodium is extremely important for maintaining cellular health. Since I have the sodium part covered in my diet, bananas help me keep my balance.
Now onto B6...
Why should you care?
- Supports nervous system health
- Promotes proper breakdown of sugars and starches
- Helps prevent homocysteine build-up in your blood
- Alleviates symptoms of irritability and sleeplessness
Nifty fact: if you feel fatigue a lot (who doesn't), suffer from anemia, or have skin problems like eczema and dermatitis, then B6 can help.
Health benefits of bananas
- Heart Health- bananas are high in fiber and along with their mega dose of potassium content, bananas can actually help lower high cholesterol and help protect and reduce the signs of heart disease
- Stomach Health- excellent food for those suffering with ulcers. They lower gastric juice level while building a protective coating on the stomach.
- Depression- they contain tryptophan, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which helps your mood and turns your frown upside down.
- Anemia- because they are high in iron
- Constipation and Diarrhea- high in fiber they help restore poop function
- Blood Pressure- since they are high in potassium and low in sodium, they are the perfect ratio for preventing high blood pressure
Another fun fact, bananas help with hangovers....not that I have ever had one :)! Just throw a few in a blender with some yogurt and honey to restore blood sugar levels to normal and you are ready for your next party!
Athletes, sports aficionados, and those on the run love the convenience, portability, and surge of energy brought out by bananas. They are the gas for your bod. Because they contain complex carbs and fiber, they supply fuel needed for muscle and central nervous systems activity. Bananas provide a boost coupled with a steady release of energy to help increase your endurance and concentration during sweat seshes, and helps reduce recovery periods as part of a high carb diet (sorry Atkins). Since they are so high in potassium they help maintain fluid levels in the bod to prevent dreaded muscle cramps that might keep you out of band practice.
Most peeps know about some of the benefits of sweet bananas but have you had a plantain? When The Husband and I lived in Miami, I had some of the best, most mouth watering plantains at one of our favorite restaurants, Chispa! They became one of my favorites, but I have since been too intimidated to cook them. Shoot, maybe I need to run to the store and pick up some of these bad boys and test my own cooking skills.
Anyway, back on topic. Now that I have educated you on the perks, you might also want to know the optimal time to knosh on this superfruit. Bananas offer optimal performance when they are plump and evenly colored with few brown spots. Try to consume after they lose their green and before they are covered in spots. I will say that when bananas get a bit more brown and a little too mushy to eat, I find that it's the perfect time to freeze. Frozen banizies are great in smoothies. Just peel, chop them in large chunks, slide'em in a freezer safe bag and toss'em in the icebox. You can also freeze whole, just let them defrost a minute before cutting the skin off with a knife (or -ife like my son E likes to say). When your ready, take these frozen guys out and throw them in the blender with whatever goodness you adore. They take the place of ice and add a creamy, mild, and delicious taste.
Best ways of eating a banana...
Simple...peel and eat :)
Cut up into little triangle for little ones
Sliced into rounds on a piece of toast topped with peanut butter (you can always sprinkle a little of chia seeds for a extra boost of nutrients)
Treat: Frozen in a smoothie with almond milk and dark chocolate
Power Breakfast: Frozen in a smoothie with Amazing Grass Chocolate Amazing Meal, pitted cherries, kale, cacao nibs, and almond milk
So, if you are feeling muscle weakness, confusion, irritability, fatigue, have heart problems, chronic diarrhea, or partake in regular, intense exercise- a banana is worth going apes for ;)
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