There is an open debate about whether having a banana for breakfast is a good idea. And science has it more and more clear

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Studying the effects of diet on health is a very complicated task. Our diet includes a multitude of foods that in turn contain a diversity of nutrients. As if that were not enough, the same food can vary in composition depending on its state of maturity. Surely the most obvious example of this is a fruit that we can find in our homes throughout the year: the banana.

“The most important meal of the day”.
The thing does not stop there. How nutrition affects us is also affected by our daily rhythms. Very often we hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, since it is the one that gives us the first energy and nutritional boost.

However, the studies that have tried to analyze this question have generally been based on studying the frequency with which people eat breakfast and not so much on the nutrients that each one consumes during the first meal of the day. This is pointed out by a 2016 study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition.

The article reviews previous studies and finds some evidence that lower calorie intake at breakfast is associated with higher levels of obesity, but finds no strong evidence to show how specific nutrients may be related to better or worse health.

It's 2022 and robots are finally able to peel a banana without crushing it

Rich in nutrients.
In any case, the banana offers us compounds that we will need in our day. The banana contains different proportions of the three main macronutrients. In order, 20% carbohydrates, 1.2% protein, and 0.3% fat or lipids, depending on data from the Spanish Nutrition Foundation.

These last two figures may seem small but they exceed those of other fruits such as oranges or apples, which have hardly any lipids and their protein contribution is, respectively, 0.8% and of 0.3% according to data also from the Spanish Nutrition Foundation.

Its contribution in lipids can be especially relevant, since breakfasts rich in carbohydrates but low in fat can make us recover our appetite before time.

The nineteenth element.
But if there is a nutrient with which we associate bananas, it is potassium. The potassium is an electrolyte that helps nerves and muscles function properly, thereby helping the heart rate remains constant. It also helps to partially counteract some of the effects of sodium.

The banana contributes on average 358 milligrams of potassium in every 100 grams of product. It is not the only food rich in this element, we can find it in vegetables such as spinach or collard greens, tubers, and fruits such as vines and citrus fruits (oranges, for example, provide about 200 mg of potassium per 100 g of fruit.

green banana vs. ripe banana.
There is another key factor that we have already mentioned, and that is that not all bananas are created equal. In addition to the fact that there are varieties (including the small, the dwarf, the large, the Canarian banana, the male banana, and the red one), the very composition of the banana changes, and with it its nutrients, as the fruit ripens. in our houses.

The banana is usually consumed very often already ripe. As the fruit ripens, the carbohydrates are transformed. Specifically, the starch in the banana is converted into simple sugars. Similar processes take place in all fruitsthat is why they gain sweetness as they mature while losing acidity and astringency.

The fiber.
The process also implies that the banana loses fiber content. What exactly is fiber is a difficult question to answer, but its initial definition referred to “[la parte] non-digestible that makes up the cell wall in plants”. The definition has been changing as we discovered more about the chemical and nutritional properties of different foods, but the key part is the fact that they are not digestible.

The high levels of fiber that green bananas contain have advantages and disadvantages. The starch in underripe bananas, for example, can be indigestible for some people. On the other hand, both resistant starch and other non-digestible components such as inulin can facilitate intestinal transit and thus our health.

Important: what it replaces.
The banana, with possible exceptions such as in the case of people with diabetes, is an ideal food for breakfast. It is a practical food for those who do not have time, so it is better than not having breakfast at all. It can also be a better option for breakfast than other fruits, since, due to its higher fiber and fat content, it can satisfy us more and for a longer time.

A fruit with history.
Although in Spain the banana is always associated with the Canary Islands, where it comes from most of the banana we consume (and to a lesser extent with Latin America), the origin of this is actually to the east of the peninsula. It is considered that this fruit is native to India, and from there it began to spread with the Muslim conquest. It would reach the islands during the fifteenth century and shortly after, in the first decades of the sixteenth century, to America.

The species has changed a lot over the years and there may be changes yet to come. The so-called “golden banana”, for example, could help alleviate malnutrition problems in some of the poorest regions of the world, located in areas that are favorable for growing this fruit.

Image | Yente Van Eynde

Studying the effects of diet on health is a very complicated task. Our diet includes a multitude of foods that…

Studying the effects of diet on health is a very complicated task. Our diet includes a multitude of foods that…

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