benefits of bananas

Bananas are a specially shaped fruit by nature. There are more than a hundred different varieties classified into two distinct species, sweet banana, and plantain banana. Sweet bananas which are sweet in nature are eaten as fruit and usually have thinner outer skin. Plantains are used as a vegetable – usually fried or baked. Bananas are a favorite food for everyone from infants to elders. Bananas are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber and can be a great contributor to our overall health. Bananas have always been considered an ideal food for kids and babies (above 6 months).

Let us start look at the surprising benefits of bananas for kids and babies:

  • Bananas are an excellent source of essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium, iron, copper, sulfur, magnesium, and phosphorous.
  • All these nutrients are important for the all-round development of a baby.
  • Potassium is required for muscle function. In its first three years, a baby needs 3000 milligrams of potassium per day.
  • Iron and copper are needed for good blood count and to maintain hemoglobin levels. During ages 1 to 3, a baby may need 7 milligrams of iron per day and 340 micrograms of copper per day.
  • Calcium is needed for bone development. During ages 1 to 3, a baby needs 700 milligrams per day.
  • Magnesium is vital for children’s good health and development and they need 80 mg per day.

Instant energy booster

  • Banana is easily one of the best sources to supply instant energy to our body.
  • Kids are always very active throughout the day and they get tired so fast, that they need a lot of energy to do all the activities on their list! To maintain the energy level of children, it is best to give a banana regularly.
  • The carbohydrates present in banana supplies instant energy to children.
  • Bananas are loaded with energy, so it is advisable to give kids bananas during breakfast. this way, it also gets digested through the day.

Controls diarrhea

Kids can have severe and chronic forms of diarrhea. Childhood diarrhea is mainly because of the infection due to rotavirus. Children aged between 6 to 32 weeks have to be vaccinated against the virus (in consultation with your child’s pediatrician). Some other common reasons for diarrhea are:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Medications
  • Food sensitivities
  • Functional bowel disorder
  • Viruses

Contrary to popular belief, bananas are one of best foods when your child suffers from diarrhea. This helps firm up and bind baby’s stools. Don’t worry as sometimes it may  take 3 to 4 days to get back to normal.

Easy for digestion

If you are going to start solid food for your babies, I suggest bananas are the best to start with. Mashed ripe banana is an excellent food for babies. The fiber content of the banana makes digestion easy. A regular habit of eating banana normalizes the bowel movement of your child and prevents digestive disorder. Also, the fiber content gives a feeling of fullness of the stomach and the child doesn’t feel hungry for a long time.

Good for bones

  • Bananas are calcium and potassium rich food.
  • Calcium and potassium are both essential for strong bones.
  • Banana helps the body to absorb calcium and other essential nutrients that promote bone health.
  • Potassium neutralizes sodium which is present in your baby’s diet and hence helps your baby’s tender bones become strong.

Better eyesight

  • Studies have found that bananas are very effective to improve eye health.
  • Banana contains nutrients such as vitamins C, E, A, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids and all these are linked to eye health.
  • Vitamin A also protects retina from all kind of diseases.

Prevents Anaemia

Make sure you are feeding your baby all healthy foods and these foods must contain the nutrients – iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, and copper in required quantities for the formation of red blood cells. Bananas are good for babies since it stimulates red blood cells production because they are rich in iron. Iron is important to protect your child from anemia.

Enhance brain power

Banana provides good fuel and boosts your child’s brain. The potassium content of banana helps in blood circulation and as a result increases the child’s concentration.

Good remedy for urinary infection

Urinary infection is common in babies. It may cause fever, frequent urination and odor in urine. One of the best home remedies is banana. Banana contains vitamin C which also helps in keeping the bladder healthy.

banana gerd

Method of giving banana to babies:

  1. Peel and cut banana it into small pieces.
  2. Mash it with a spoon or fork. You can also use a blender. But do not blend it like a juice – it has to be in thick.
  3. Add 1-2 tsps of baby rice.
  4. Add 2 tbsps of breast milk.
  5. Take mashed banana and mix rice and breast milk.
  6. Stir well.
  7. Adjust the texture until it becomes a little runny.

You can give his to 4-6 months old babies in the morning. If your baby suffers from fever or common cold, you can give him / her boiled or cooked banana.

You can give ripe bananas to toddlers aged above 2 years.1 or two bananas a day is ideal.

Sources

Karalis, M. & Murphy-Gutekunst, L., 2006. Enhanced Foods: Hidden Phosphorus and Sodium in Foods Commonly Eaten. Journal of Renal Nutrition, 16(1), pp. 79-81.

https://www.jrnjournal.org/article/S1051-2276(05)00185-8/abstract

Kayisu, K., Hood, L. F. & Vansoest, P. J., 1981. Characterization of Starch and Fiber of Banana Fruit. Journal of Food Science, 46(6), pp. 1885-1890.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1981.tb04511.x

Prabha, T. N. & Bhagyalakshmi, N., 1998. Carbohydrate metabolism in ripening banana fruit. Phytochemistry, 48(6), pp. 915-919.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S003194229700931X

Singh, B., Singh, J. P., Kaur, A. & Singh, N., 2016. Bioactive compounds in banana and their associated health benefits – A review. Food Chemistry, Volume 206, pp. 1-11.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814616303831

Skinner, J. D., Ziegler, P., MS, S. P. & Devaney, B., 2004. Meal and snack patterns of infants and toddlers. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 104(1), pp. 65-70.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0002822303014524

Expert Medical Opinion – By Dr. HemaPriya, MBBS, AFIH

1.     Does regular consumption of bananas help in weight gain?
 
Yes, Bananas are good for weight gain.
 
2.     Banana helps to relieve constipation. But my child always constipates every time after eating banana. What could be the reason?
 
Ripe bananas are fiber rich and can help to relieve constipation and unripe bananas can cause constipation.
 
3.     Can we feed bananas to infants? If yes, what quantity would you recommend?
 
Bananas are good. The quantity depends on the variety of banana and the baby’s preference.
 
4.     Is it good to feed bananas when a child has loose stools?
 
Yes, It’s completely safe to feed bananas to babies who are suffering from diarrhea.
 

Kalaivani Selvaraj, MBA, got her Master’s degree in Human Resources. Due to her interest in natural healing, she pursued studies in the field of alternative medicine and is certified in Aromatherapy by Isla Verde Spa Training Academy. Ms. Kalaivani Selvaraj is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.