Top 5 Health Benefits of Bananas + Nutrition Info and Fun Facts

Written by Christine Sexton, MPH, RD

Many people have heard that bananas are a good source of potassium, but their health benefits go way beyond that.

Bananas are an excellent source of vitamin B6, and a good source of vitamin C and fiber. They also contain a lot of antioxidants, which may protect against health problems including cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s (1).

The convenient, single-serve packaging that bananas come in (the peel!) makes this fruit a hard one to beat for convenience. So, pack one in your lunchbox, chop it into a fruit salad, or slice it into your cereal- and add some great nutrition to your day!

Bananas Health Benefits

1. Bananas may help prevent kidney cancer

Bananas are very high in antioxidants, which may be why they seem to reduce kidney cancer risk. In a study of 61,000 women, those who ate at least 4-6 bananas each week had about half the risk of kidney cancer as those who did not eat bananas (2).

2. Bananas can help athletic performance

Bananas replenish energy and electrolytes during endurance exercise at least as well as sports drinks. In a study of long-distance cyclists, refueling with a banana and water resulted in performance times equal to refueling with a sports drink. Other measures of performance were also similar for both groups (3).

3. Bananas may help with childhood asthma

In children with asthma, eating bananas may lessen symptoms. A study of over 2600 children ages 5-10 years found that those who ate at least one banana each day were 66% less likely to experience wheezing than those who did not eat bananas. Other potential causes of asthma symptoms were similar between the two groups (4).

4. The potassium in bananas protects heart health

Foods that are high in potassium and low in sodium, like bananas, may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. In one study, people who ate bananas frequently had significantly lower blood pressure than those who ate them less often (5). A review of many studies on the topic found that people who eat more potassium-rich foods have a 24% lower risk of stroke (6).

5. Bananas are an excellent source of vitamin B6

A single medium banana provides 22% DV for vitamin B6 which is basically a quarter of your daily goal. Vitamin B6 is important for brain development and function, energy production (turning food into usable energy), healthy immune function, and red blood cell production (7).

Nutrient Info For Bananas

Serving size: 1 medium banana

Top 10 Nutrients by %DV
  • Vitamin B622% DV
  • Vitamin C17% DV
  • Manganese16% DV
  • Fiber12% DV
  • Potassium12% DV
  • Carbs9% DV
  • Magnesium8% DV
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate)6% DV
  • Calories5% DV
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)5% DV
Table for Common Nutrients
Nutrient%DV
Calories 105 5%
Fat 0.4g 1%
Protein 1.3g 3%
Carbohydrate 27g 9%
Sugars 14.4g ~
Fiber 3.1g 9%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Saturated Fats 0.132g 1%
Calcium, Ca 5.9mg 1%
Iron, Fe 0.3mg 2%
Potassium, K 422.4mg 12%
Magnesium, Mg 31.9mg 8%
Vitamin A, IU 75.5IU 2%
Vitamin C 10.3mg 17%
Vitamin B-12 0μg 0%

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database - Release 28.
See the complete nutrition facts with over 150 nutrients, or the nutrition facts comparison of Bananas vs other foods.

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Bananas Fun Facts

  1. The average person eats 26 pounds (12 kilograms) of bananas each year (8).
  2. About half of all bananas are grown in Asia (9).
  3. There are almost 1000 varieties of bananas. The most popular is the Cavendish (8).
  4. Ecuador is the largest exporter of bananas (8).
  5. Some people say that rubbing the inside of a banana skin on a mosquito bite helps take away the itch.
  6. Besides being enjoyed on their own, bananas are also delicious added to smoothies, or in a sandwich with peanut butter and honey. They can also be used to replace oil or butter in baking.
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Data Sources and References

  1. U.S. National Institutes of Health on Antioxidants
  2. Fruits, vegetables and risk of renal cell carcinoma: a prospective study of Swedish women.
  3. Bananas as an energy source during exercise: a metabolomics approach.
  4. Childhood asthma and fruit consumption.
  5. Association of raw fruit and fruit juice consumption with blood pressure: the INTERMAP Study
  6. Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses.
  7. University of Maryland on Vitamin B6
  8. U.N. FAO on Bananas
  9. UN FAO Facts and Figures on Bananas