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5 ways bananas keep you healthy

Before you peel that banana, take a moment to appreciate all its wonderfully healthy qualities. Each one is full of potassium, folate, and vitamin B6 for your heart and bones, and vitamins A and C for antioxidant protection. It’s packed with fiber for regularity and melatonin for adjusting your internal clock.

 

* HIT HEART DISEASE HARD - The next time you see your doctor, check the homocysteine levels in your blood. If they’re high, you’re at risk for heart disease. While this might be a hereditary condition, you could also be vitamin deficient. It’s easy enough to cut your homocysteine and reduce your chances of developing heart disease by getting extra folate.

Eat a banana and you’ve just gotten 22 micrograms of this important nutrient. Of course you’d have to eat more than a bunch to get enough folate solely from bananas. But by simply making them part of a well-rounded diet, you could hit heart disease.

* BOTTOMS OUT BLOOD PRESSURE - If you have heart disease, chances are you’re limiting salt and fat to keep your blood pressure down. But that’s only half the story. You may be able to send those bp numbers in low by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. It’s the calcium in green leafy vegetables and the potassium in fruits like bananas that seem to make the difference.

Frank M. Sasks, M.D., professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, thinks that potassium connection is important. “Individuals should eat more fruits such as bananas, oranges, and green leafy vegetables to help prevent high blood pressure,” he says. “If you already have high blood pressure, then you should eat a diet high in potassium.

* BUILDS BETTER BONES - You might not think a soft, curved fruit could keep your bones straight and strong. But bananas can do just that thanks to their high potassium content - a mineral your body needs in order to absorb calcium.

Here’s how it works. Calcium needs potassium, even if you’re drinking plenty of milk and eating lots of dairy products, without enough potassium, you might not be getting all the calcium you need.

* COMBATS DIARRHEAR - When you suffer from diarrhea, your body loses vital fluids and minerals. If you become weak and dizzy, it’s a sign you’ve lost enough to become dehydrated. Severe diarrhea can even affect your heart. Simply drinking a couple glasses of water, however, won’t get your system back to normal - you need something more. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, bananas are the perfect food after an attack of diarrhea. The potassium gets right to work helping control the balance of water in your cells.

* QUIETS A COUGH - If you have a cough, that just won’t quit and a burning sensation in your throat after meals, you may suffer from heartburn and acid reflux. For a soothing natural solution, eat a banana or take banana powder - a dried, ground form of the fruit you can find in health food stores.

A Word of Caution - If you have kidney disease, your doctor may have told you not to eat too many bananas. Some people with damaged kidneys develop a condition called hyperkalemia - too much potassium in your blood. Potassium build-up is serious and can cause weakness and paralysis and can head to heart failure.

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