7 reasons why bananas are the best gym snack

Creamy and delicious, bananas are a portable fruit that can satisfy any grumbling tummy. If you knew exactly how nutritious they are, you’d eat one every day. Nutritionist Gabrielle Maston highlights 7 powerful nutrients bananas provide.

1. Vitamin B6

Also known as pyridoxine, the most interesting thing about B6 is its role in regulating mood and sleep. Pyridoxine is used to break down proteins to make the hormones serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is a feel-good neurotransmitter in the brain that helps regulate happiness, anxiety and mood, leaving you feeling calm and relaxed, and melatonin is responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycle.

2. Folate

Folate is an essential nutrient for women who are looking to fall pregnant. It has been shown to assist in the healthy development of the foetus during pregnancy. Men also need folate as its main role is to join forces with vitamin B12 and break down homocysteine. Homocysteine is a protein found in the blood; high levels of it have been linked to the development of heart disease.

3. Potassium

Bananas are renowned for their potassium content. A medium-size banana typically contains around 358mg of potassium, which is 7% of your recommended daily intake. In the body, it works in partnership with sodium to maintain blood pressure and keep you hydrated. Most importantly, potassium is used to regulate your heart beat.

4. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and its properties are being investigated for their role in combating free radicals, and may help to protect your body against heart disease and some cancers. Vitamin C is needed for the synthesis of collagen, responsible for the elasticity of your skin and connective tissues; it’s because of this that vitamin C is now being investigated for use in rehabilitation of athletes after tendon and joint injuries.

5. Fibre

Fibre is needed for good bowel health. It’s made up of the indigestible part of plants and passes through the bowel, mixing with water to soften stools and prevent constipation. Your gut has about 2kg of live bacteria which needs feeding — fibre is a prebiotic and does just that. Research is now investigating how the bacteria in your gut (microbiota) may influence body weight, mood, genes and much more!

6. Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is used with calcium to keep your bones strong. It’s useful to athletes in that it helps to relax muscles, but more isn’t better. It’s a myth that additional magnesium supplementation will help alleviate nighttime cramps, so it’s best to get it from your diet by eating nutritious foods, like bananas. Adults need around 400mg per day for
good health.

7. Niacin

Niacin is otherwise known as vitamin B3. Its role in the body is to assist in the metabolism of food to energy and is essential for growth. In high doses it’s also used in the treatment of high cholesterol, and a deficiency in niacin can lead to depression and fatigue.