We follow the P90X nutrition plan which means that we are providing our bodies with fuel full of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and Omega 3s. We eat almonds, fish, lean meat, spinach, tomatoes, red peppers, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, oranges, berries and whole grains such as whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, whole-wheat couscous, quinoa, and steel-cut oats. All of these foods have proven to lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol, boost your immune system, and keep your belly full longer, among other benefits. However, our favorite “super food” of all is the banana.
Bananas don’t last long in our house, especially now that we are in Phase 3 of P90X (2 servings of fruit/day for me, 3 for Mike) and we are running 25+ miles per week. Bananas are not only easily portable and extremely cheap (19 cents each at Trader Joe’s!), they are amazingly nutritious. I buy about 12-15 bananas per week and not a single one goes bad before it’s gobbled up.
Bananas are the Perfect Snack for Runners
Bananas contain three natural sugars: sucrose, fructose, and glucose. They also contain about 3 grams of dietary fiber. Basically, one banana can boost energy instantly with its sugar content, but keep you full longer with its fiber content. Research shows that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90 minute workout. It’s very common to see runners toting a banana with them on the way to a half marathon or marathon.
Chiquita banana has actually honed in on this target market and dedicated an entire portion of their website to the benefits of bananas for athletes: http://www.chiquitachampions.com/bananas-endurance-sports-nutrition-value.aspx. According to the most recognizable brand of banana out there, bananas:
- Supply the fuel needed for muscle and central nervous system activity
- Provide a quick boost and a sustained release of energy to help improve your endurance and concentration during physical activity.
- Help to reduce recovery periods as part of high carb, low protein diets.
- Regulate digestive issues that could slow you down.
Bananas also contain potassium which is beneficial for preventing muscle cramps during a race. One banana contains 450 milligrams of potassium, nearly 14% of the recommended daily value. They also contain vitamin C and manganese that help strengthen muscles and speed the healing of wounds.
Other Health Benefits of Bananas:
- Low Calorie – about 110 calories per banana.
- 20% of daily value of Vitamin B
- Good for the heart, kidney and bones.
- Act as a mood enhancer
- Good for your blood
- Contain a certain type of fiber that helps to restore and maintain regular bowel functions
- Can reduce PMS
- Can reduce a hangover
- Are great for morning sickness in pregnant wome
- Can reduce swelling from mosquito bites
- Help sooth ulcers
- Rich in iron
- Peels are great fertilizer
Random Banana Facts:
- When bananas are connected at the stem, they ripen faster.
- A cluster of bananas is called a hand and consists of 10 to 20 bananas, which are known as fingers
- The banana “tree” is not really a tree, but a giant herb. The banana is the fruit of this herb.
- Bananas were officially introduced to the American public at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. Each banana was wrapped in foil and sold for 10 cents. Before that time, bananas came to America on the decks of sailing ships as sailors took a few stems home after traveling in the Caribbean.
- In 2001, there were more than 300 banana-related accidents in Britain, most involving people slipping on skins.
- Over 96% of American households purchase bananas at least once each month.
- About 50 percent of people who are allergic to latex are often also allergic to bananas.
- The average American consumes over 28 pounds of bananas each year (Mike must eat 4 times this much).
Don’t like to eat bananas plain? Some ideas for incorporating this wonder fruit into your diet without downing them solo:
- Make a peanut butter banana sandwich or toast (my favorite pre-run breakfast!)
- Cut up bananas and eat them in yogurt (frozen or regular)
- Add banana to your oatmeal
- Make whole-wheat banana pancakes
- Eat a banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter as a 200-calorie snack
- Banana recipes for athletes courtesy of Chiquita: http://www.chiquitachampions.com/bananas-recipes-for-athletes.aspx
At 5 for a dollar, why wouldn’t you at least eat one banana a day?