Everyone knows they should be aiming to get their five-a-day of fruit and vegetables in order to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
Bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the UK, and are a good source of certain vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
But what is so special about bananas, how exactly do they benefit your health and how many should you eat per week?
According to dietician Juliette Kellow and medical consultant Dr Sarah Brewer in their book ‘Eat Better Live Longer: Understand What Your Body Needs to Stay Healthy’, the health benefits of bananas range from helping regulate blood pressure to reducing the risk of kidney cancer.
Bananas are packed with potassium which can help maintain a healthy blood pressure by regulating the amount of salt in the body.
According to Kellow and Brewer, a 13-year study of Swedish women showed higher intakes of all fruits reduced the risk of kidney cancer, but bananas offered the best protection.
Another study also found eating at least four bananas a week, as opposed to less than three a month, resulted in a 50 per cent reduction in the risk of kidney cancer.
Bananas contain small amounts of the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted into a feel-good chemical called serotonin in the brain.
They also contain vitamin B6 which helps the conversion take place. Low levels of serotonin and vitamin B6 have been linked to depression, while higher levels may be protective.
Bananas are rich in soluble fibre which acts as food for probiotics. Probiotics “crowd out” bad bacteria and help boost digestive health and immunity.
Bananas are also high in a fibre called pectin, while unripe bananas contain lots of resistant starch.
Both pectin and resistant starch help slow down stomach emptying, which causes slower rises in blood sugar and helps you feel fuller for longer.
So how many bananas should you eat per week? Kellow and Brewer recommend eating three to four bananas a week.
“Whether you like your bananas slightly green or freckly, they all come with triple levels of mood-boosting powers,” said Kellow and Brewer.
“They are good sources of carbohydrates (fuel for the brain and muscles), and of tryptophan and vitamin B6 (both of which are needed for production of feel-good chemicals).”
“What’s more, bananas improve digestion and may help regulate blood pressure.”