Are bananas good for brain health?

Recent research suggest that bananas have potential health benefits. Although they may be a favourite fruit, are bananas good for brain health? The brain is considered the control center, arguably making it one of the most important organs in the human body. This complex network of cells is responsible for breathing, coordination, memories, thoughts, speech, and various other daily functions.

As we age, our cognitive health declines, which is why nutritional choices play an essential role in our overall health. Our diets should incorporate nutrient-dense foods to maintain and improve brain health. The integration of certain foods can support both short-term and long-term brain function. Recent research suggest that bananas have potential health benefits, but what are the components of bananas that may be beneficial?

1. Potassium

Bananas are rich in potassium, which is necessary for the normal functioning of our cells and plays a critical role in nerve functions.1

2. Tryptophan, Serotonin, & Dopamine

Research has also uncovered that tryptophan, an amino acid found in bananas, plays a role in preserving memory, regulating mood, and increasing an the ability to absorb new information and remember it.2

Tryptophan is also the sole precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is also important for regulating mood and cognition.2 Although serotonin from bananas cannot pass through the blood brain barrier, it supports the body’s function of creating serotonin. Serotonin also helps alleviate anxiety and insomnia symptoms, overall, positively impacting the mental state. In addition to serotonin, bananas contain a large amount of catecholamines such as dopamine and norepinephrine which strongly influence emotional stability and controlling stress.3

3. Phytochemicals

Phytochemicals found in bananas help preserve nerve tissue against neurotoxins, which deteriorate nervous tissue when exposed to its substance.3 This may also help in preventing neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Phytochemicals also have strong antioxidant properties, which help to fight against oxidative stress.3 Oxidative stress may also lead to age-related cognitive deterioration and neurological disorders.

Throughout the research, it was uncovered that bananas also provided further health benefits such as reducing the risks of chronic diseases, gastrointestinal disorders and improved immune function. Besides the delicious taste, bananas may be good for brain health.

References:

  1. Ranjha, Muhammad Modassar Ali Nawaz, Irfan S, Nadeem M, Mahmood S. A Comprehensive Review on Nutritional Value, Medicinal Uses, and Processing of Banana. Food reviews international. 2022;2020;38.199-225.
  2. Jenkins TA, Nguyen JCD, Polglaze KE, Bertrand PP. Influence of Tryptophan and Serotonin on Mood and Cognition with a Possible Role of the Gut-Brain Axis. Nutrients. 2016;8:56.
  3. Sidhu JS, Zafar TA. Bioactive compounds in banana fruits and their health benefits. Food quality and safety. 2018;2:183-188.

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