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Bananas are both delicious and nutritious. They contain many essential nutrients and provide benefits for heart health, digestion, and weight loss. Aside from being nutritious, they’re also a very convenient snack food. In this article, we will discuss the health benefits of bananas.
Bananas are probably one of the most popular fruits in the world. They vary in size, shape, and color. The most common type is Cavendish, a type of dessert banana. It is green when unripe but turns yellow as it matures. Native to Southeast Asia, bananas are now grown in many parts of the world. The top producers of bananas are India, China, Indonesia, Brazil, and Ecuador.
Health Benefits of Bananas
1. Bananas Are Very Nutritious
A medium-sized banana (118 grams) contains the following nutrients:
• Vitamin B6: 33% of the RDI
• Manganese: 14% of the RDI
• Vitamin C: 11% of the RDI
• Copper: 10% of the RDI
• Potassium: 9% of the RDI
• Magnesium: 8% of the RDI
• Net carbs: 24 grams
• Fiber: 3.1 grams
• Protein: 1.3 grams
• Fat: 0.4 grams
RDI = Reference Daily intake
Each banana contains only 105 calories and almost no fat. The carbohydrates in unripe bananas consist of starch and resistant starch. As the banana ripens, the starch is converted into sugar (fructose, glucose, and sucrose). Bananas also contain fiber and antioxidants.
2. Bananas May Support Heart Health
One of the most notable health benefits of bananas is that they are good for heart health. Potassium is a mineral essential for good heart health — especially in blood pressure control. Despite its importance, many people do not get enough potassium in their diet. Thankfully, bananas are a very good dietary source of potassium. One medium-sized banana (about 118 grams) provides 9% of the RDI.
A potassium-rich diet will help lower blood pressure, so people who eat plenty of potassium-rich food have up to a 27% lower risk of heart disease. Additionally, bananas have a decent amount of magnesium, which is also important for heart health.
3. Bananas May Improve Digestive Health
Dietary fiber is associated with improved digestion. Bananas are a good source of fiber; a medium-sized banana contains about 3 grams of fiber. Bananas contain two types of fiber – resistant starch (found in unripe bananas) and pectin (decreases as the banana ripens).
Resistant starch escapes digestion and ends up in the large intestine, where it serves as food for beneficial bacteria in the gut. There are some test tube studies suggesting that pectin may provide protection against colon cancer.
4. Bananas Contain Nutrients That May Moderate Blood Sugar Levels
Bananas are rich in pectin, a kind of fiber that gives its flesh a spongy structure. Unripe bananas contain resistant starch that escapes digestion and acts like soluble fiber.
Both pectin and resistant starch may reduce appetite and moderate blood sugar levels after eating by slowing down the emptying of the stomach. Also, bananas have a low to medium ranking on the glycemic index (GI) — a measure from 0–100 of how quick foods increase blood sugar levels.
The GI of ripe bananas is about 60, while unripe bananas is around 30. The average GI of all bananas is 51. This means that eating bananas will not cause a major increase in blood sugar levels of healthy individuals.
However, this does not apply to people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, who are advised to avoid eating a lot of ripe bananas — and to monitor their blood sugar levels if they do.
5. Bananas Contain Powerful Antioxidants
Fruits and vegetables are very good sources of antioxidants, and bananas are no exception. They contain various types of antioxidants, such as catechins and dopamine. These antioxidants provide many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and other degenerative illnesses.
6. Bananas May Help You Feel Full
Resistant starch is a kind of indigestible carbohydrate found in unripe fruits like bananas and also in other foods. It functions like soluble fiber in our body. As a rule of thumb, we can say that the greener the banana, the greater will be its resistant starch content.
On the other hand, yellow (ripe) bananas contain less resistant starch but proportionally comparable amounts of soluble fiber. Both pectin and resistant starch have appetite-reducing effects, thus increasing the feeling of fullness after meals.
7. Unripe Bananas May Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin resistance is one of the major risk factors for many of the world’s most prevalent and serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes. Several studies show that 15 to 30 grams of resistant starch a day may improve insulin sensitivity by about 33 to 50% in about four weeks.
Unripe bananas are good sources of resistant starch. Therefore, they can help in improving insulin sensitivity. However, the reason for these beneficial effects is not well understood, since not all studies concur with one another. Hence, more studies must be conducted on bananas regarding insulin sensitivity.
8. Bananas May Improve Kidney Health
Potassium is essential to control blood pressure and promote healthy kidney function. Bananas are a good dietary source of potassium, so they can be beneficial for maintaining healthy kidneys.
A 13-year study in women showed that those who ate bananas 2 to 3 times a week were 33% less probable to develop kidney disease. Other studies reveal that those who eat bananas 4 to 6 times a week are about 50% less likely to develop kidney illness than those who do not eat bananas.
9. Bananas May Have Benefits for Exercise
Bananas are a great food for athletes mainly because of their mineral content and easy-to-digest carbohydrates. Eating bananas also helps reduce exercise-related muscle cramps, numbness, and soreness, which affect 95% of the general population.
The reason for muscle cramps is not totally understood, but popular theory considers dehydration and electrolyte imbalance as culprits. However, research gives varied findings about bananas and muscle cramps. While some studies find them helpful, the rest find no beneficial effects. Having said that, bananas provide good nutrition before, during, and after exercise.
10. Bananas May Aid Weight Loss
Bananas have several properties that make them a weight-loss-friendly food. First and foremost, bananas have relatively few calories. An average-sized banana has just over 100 calories, but is very nutritious and filling.
Also, fiber derived from eating vegetables and fruits (such as bananas) has been repeatedly linked to weight loss or lower body weight. Unripe bananas are loaded with resistant starch. They will make you feel full and reduce your appetite.
Not only are bananas super healthy — they are also very convenient to eat. You can add them to yogurt, cereal, and smoothies. Bananas can also be used as a substitute for sugar when cooking or baking. Another plus point for bananas is that they seldom contain pesticides due to their thick protective peel. Best of all, they are easy to eat, prepare, and digest. So what are you waiting for? Start including this amazing fruit in your diet today!
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What is an ACL injury? An ACL injury is a sprain or tear of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) — a strong band of tissue that helps connect the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shinbone). Usually, ACL injuries occur while engaging in sports that involve sudden stops/changes in direction, and jumping or landing, such as basketball, football, soccer, and downhill skiing.
ACL Injury Symptoms
The symptoms of an ACL injury include:
• A loud pop when the ACL injury occurred
• A “popping” sensation in the knee
• Inability to continue activity
• Rapid swelling
• Severe pain
• A feeling of instability when bearing weight
• Loss of range of motion
Causes of ACL Injury
Your ACL is one of two ligaments (bands of tissue which connect one bone to another) which cross the middle of the knee. It connects the thighbone to the shinbone and helps stabilize the knee joint. ACL injuries usually happen during sports or fitness activities that put stress on the knee. Below are the common causes of ACL injuries.
• Stopping suddenly
• Suddenly slowing down and changing direction
• Pivoting with the foot firmly planted
• Having a collision (e.g., a football tackle) or receiving a direct blow to the knee
• Landing awkwardly from a jump
When the ligament is damaged, there may be a partial or complete tear of tissue. A mild injury might stretch your ligament, but leave it intact.
Risk Factors for ACL Injuries
Besides knowing what is an ACL injury, you should know the risk factors that could increase its possibility, such as:
• Participating in certain sports, such as basketball, football, soccer, gymnastics, or downhill skiing
• Poor conditioning
• Being female (possibly due to difference in muscle strength, anatomy, or hormonal influences)
• Using faulty movement patterns
• Wearing footwear that does not fit properly
• Playing on artificial turf
• Using poorly maintained sports equipment
ACL Injury Diagnosis
During the physical examination, the doctor will check the knee for tenderness and swelling. He/she may move your knee into different positions, assessing the range of motion and overall function of the joint.
Usually, a diagnosis can be made based on the physical exam, but tests may be needed to determine severity of the injury and rule out other causes. These tests may include:
• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Treatment for an ACL Injury
Prompt first aid can reduce pain and swelling after an injury to the knee. You can follow the R.I.C.E. model of self-care.
• Rest – Rest is necessary for healing. It also limits weight bearing on the knee.
• Ice – When you are awake, you can ice your knee at least every 2 hours (20 minutes at a time).
• Compression – Wrap an elastic bandage/compression wrap around the knee.
• Elevation – Lie down with the knee propped up on pillows.
Treatment for ACL injuries starts with several weeks of rehabilitative therapy. The physical therapist will teach you exercises that can be performed with continued supervision or at home. To avoid putting weight on the knee, you may wear a brace to stabilize the knee and use crutches for a while. The goals of rehabilitation are to reduce pain and swelling, restore the knee’s full range of movement, and strengthen muscles.
The doctor may recommend surgery if:
• The fibrous cartilage or more than one ligament in the knee is injured
• The injury is causing the knee to buckle when doing everyday activities
• You’re an athlete and want to continue your sport (especially if it involves jumping/cutting/pivoting)
During ACL reconstruction, the surgeon will remove the damaged ligament and replace it with a segment of tendon or replacement tissue (graft). The surgeon can use a piece of tendon from your knee or a tendon from a donor.
After surgery, you will undergo another course of rehabilitative therapy. A successful ACL reconstruction, together with rigorous rehabilitation, usually can restore function to your knee.
How to Prevent ACL Injuries
Proper training and exercise can reduce the risk of ACL injuries. They include:
• Exercises to strengthen the core
• Proper warm-up before engaging in sports
• Exercises that strengthen leg muscles
• Training that emphasizes proper knee position and technique when jumping and landing
• Training to improve technique when pivoting and cutting
Consult your doctor and seek immediate care if you suffer an injury that shows signs and symptoms of an ACL injury. The knee is a complex structure of bones, tendons, ligaments, and tissues. It’s important, therefore, to get an accurate diagnosis and get proper treatment. Now that you know what is an ACL injury, you can take steps to prevent it from happening.
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Did you know that the original carrot was small, forked, and was purple or yellow in color? It also had a bitter, woody flavor. It was not until the 16th century that Dutch growers developed the sweet and crunchy orange variety that is popular today. It’s the beta carotene that give carrots their orange color. But farmer’s markets and some specialty stores also offer carrots in other colors, including purple, red, and yellow. Well, enough of the trivia. We are here to discuss the top seven health benefits of carrots.
Health Benefits of Carrots
1. Good for Your Vision
Carrots are a good source of vitamin A. A deficiency in vitamin A may result in xerophthalmia, a progressive eye disease that can develop into night blindness (difficulty seeing when the levels of light are low). So there’s some truth to the belief that this vegetable can help you see better in the dark.
Eating carrots is beneficial because a lack of vitamin A is one of the preventable causes of blindness in children. In addition, carrots contain the antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein, the combination of which may help prevent age related macular degeneration (a type of vision loss).
2. May Reduce the Risk of Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, too many free radicals may increase the risk of some types of cancer. The antioxidant effects of dietary carotenoids (orange, yellow, and red organic pigments that can be found in carrots and other vegetables) may reduce this risk. Two examples of carotenoids are lutein and zeaxanthin.
Prostate cancer – A 2015 studies review suggested a link between a carotenoids-rich diet and a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Leukemia – In 2011, researchers discovered that nutrients in carrot juice extract can kill leukemia cells and stop or slow their progression.
Lung cancer – In 2011, researchers found out that drinking carrot juice might help prevent the type of damage which leads to lung cancer in smokers. A 2008 meta-analysis meanwhile, revealed that participants with high intakes of carotenoids had a 21 % lower risk of lung cancer, compared to participants in control groups.
3. Digestive Health
According to a 2014 research that gathered data from 893 people, consuming carotenoid-rich foods may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Another study reported that people who eat a high-fiber diet have a lower risk of colorectal cancer, compared to those who consume little fiber.
High-fiber foods promote gut health. A medium carrot contains 1.7 grams of fiber (5% to 7.6% of a person’s daily needs, depending on age). One cup of chopped carrots, meanwhile, provides 3.58 grams of fiber.
4. Diabetes Control
Carbohydrates make up about 10% of a carrot. About 30% of the carbohydrate content is fiber. A medium carrot contains 25 calories. Overall, a carrot is a low-calorie, high-fiber food that is low in sugar. It also scores low on the glycemic index or GI. The index can be used by people with diabetes to determine which foods are likely to raise blood sugar levels.
The GI score of boiled carrots is 39. This means that they’re unlikely to cause a blood sugar spike and are thus generally safe for diabetics to eat. Furthermore, authors of a 2018 review reported that eating a high-fiber diet might help prevent type 2 diabetes. High-fiber foods can also help people afflicted by type 2 diabetes better manage their blood sugar levels.
5. Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Health
The fiber and potassium in carrots are good for cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association encourages people to consume less salt and eat more foods that contain potassium (like carrots). Potassium helps relax blood vessels, lowering the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) and other cardiovascular issues. A medium carrot provides about 4% of a person’s daily requirement for potassium.
Meanwhile, a 2017 review reported that people who eat a high fiber diet are less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases than people who eat little fiber. Consuming lots of fiber may also help reduce levels of low density lipoprotein (also known as bad cholesterol) in the blood.
6. Immune Function and Healing
Vitamin C is one antioxidant that carrots provide. It contributes to collagen production. Collagen is a component of connective tissue and is essential for wound healing.
Vitamin C is also present in immune cells that help the body fight disease. When the immune system of a person is healthy, it may help prevent a range of diseases. If you are unwell, your immune system has to work harder. This may compromise vitamin C levels.
Experts believe that taking vitamin C may boost immune system function when it’s under stress. For example, consuming vitamin C may reduce the duration and severity of a cold.
7. Bone Health
Carrots contain vitamin K, calcium, and phosphorus. All of these are good for bone health and may also help prevent osteoporosis.
Carrots are a versatile vegetable. You can eat them raw, roasted, boiled, steamed, or as an ingredient in stews and soups. They are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Now that you know the health benefits of carrots, shouldn’t you start including them in your diet today?
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