Wonderfully sweet with firm and creamy flesh, bananas come prepackaged in their own yellow jackets and are available for harvest throughout the year.
The banana plant grows 10 to 26 feet and belongs to the Musaceaefamily of plants along with plantains.
A first type of cardiovascular benefit from bananas is related to their potassium content. Bananas are a good source of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Since one medium-sized banana contains a whopping 400-plus mg of potassium, the inclusion of bananas in your routine meal plan may help to prevent high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis.
The effectiveness of potassium-rich foods such as bananas in lowering blood pressure has been demonstrated by a number of studies. For example, researchers tracked over 40,000 American male health professionals over four years to determine the effects of diet on blood pressure. Men who ate diets higher in potassium-rich foods, as well as foods high in magnesium and cereal fiber, had a substantially reduced risk of stroke.
A second type of cardiovascular benefit from bananas involves their sterol content. While bananas are a very low-fat food (less than four per cent of their calories come from fat), one type of fat that they do contain in small amounts are sterols like sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol. As these sterols look structurally similar to cholesterol, they can block the absorption of dietary cholesterol. By blocking absorption, they help us keep our blood cholesterol levels in check.
A third type of cardiovascular benefit from bananas involves their fibrecontent. At about three grammes per medium banana, we rank bananas as a good source of fiber. Approximately one-third of the fibre in bananas is water-soluble fiber.