Bananas are a delicious fruit that we should all try to eat more often, not just because they taste delicious but also because they contain some very important nutrients that can improve your overall health. We’ve already talked about the fact that eating more bananas can help reduce depression, optimize your brain function, fight high blood pressure, and can prevent a variety of other diseases. But thanks to more recent research, a whole new benefit of eating bananas has been discovered, particularly eating ripe bananas.
Bananas contain tumor necrosis factor
As bananas ripen they develop multiple dark spots that eventually cover the entire peel and cause it to turn brown. Some people avoid buying bananas when they’ve reached this stage because the taste is much sweeter and the mushy texture can be unpleasant. But what few people know is that the more dark spots a banana has, the more benefits it contains for the body and particularly the immune system.
Recent research in Japan has shown that ripe bananas contain a cytokine known as Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), which is released by some of the body’s immune system cells and can affect other cells in the body. This is what gives ripe bananas their ability to fight cancer. The effect is so strong that they can actually fight tumor and abnormal cellular growth in the body.
The function of this cytokine is compared with that of lentinan, a chemical immune-stimulant that’s administered intravenously as an anti-cancer agent.
The effect grows as the banana ripens, meaning that the riper the fruit is, the greater its anti-cancer effect.
More ripe fruits have better quality nutrients
As all fruits ripen their nutritional value changes, which can increase or decrease the effect of certain properties. In the case of bananas it was found that the more ripe they are, the higher their levels of concentrated antioxidants become. And when you have bananas with dark spots on them, their starch content is converted into simple sugars that are more easily digested.
Bananas, apples, grapes, pineapples, pears, watermelon, and persimmons: in the Japanese study we mentioned above, they ran different dietary tests throughout the different stages of maturity for all of these fruits. The results from the study indicate that eating a ripe banana is more beneficial than eating any other fruit because it can increase the white blood cell count in your blood and strengthen your immune system.
To take advantage of this important benefit, it’s a good idea to eat one or two large pieces of banana a day.
Boost your immune system and fight disease
Scientists think that the more ripe a banana is, the higher concentration of TNF it will have. It’s believed that ripe bananas can boost your white blood cell count up to eight times higher than bananas that are fresh and green.
What other benefits do ripe bananas have?
Just their anti-cancer benefits should be more than enough of an incentive to include them in your daily diet. But if that doesn’t convince you, here are some other important benefits that you get from eating ripe bananas.
Improves digestive health
One medium banana contains up to 3 grams of fiber, which contributes to good intestinal function and facilitates the movement of food through the digestive tract. They’re a natural source of electrolytes, which are lost when you experience a bout of diarrea, for example. Bananas also contain probiotic compounds that can help preserve the good bacteria that’s naturally present in the body.
Improve cardiovascular health
Because they’re rich in potassium, ripe bananas can help reduce stores of sodium in the body, which cause fluid retention and adversely affect heart health. In an analysis of 11 studies that were published in the “Journal of the American College of Cardiology,” it was found that people who added potassium-rich foods to their diet reduced their risk of stroke and heart disease.
Improve bone health
A study by the Micronutrient Information Center at the Oregon-based Linus Pauling Institute revealed that a diet rich in potassium can reduce the risk for osteoporosis. Ripe bananas are an excellent source of potassium and increase the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which also helps strengthen bones.