Bananas are an incredibly popular food pretty much anywhere you go. Grown in 107 countries, they represent the fourth most valuable crop the world over. They are delicious ripe, cooked, dried, even slightly under-ripe. They are great plain but nicely complement ice cream, cereal, and yogurt. Bananas are also one of the healthiest snacks you can have, with enough sweetness to make you forget how much nutrition you’re getting.
But what would happen if you ate two bananas every day? We will take a look at the health outcomes of that habit, the good and the not-so-good. (Spoiler alert: it’s mostly good news.) Bananas are full of healthy potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and B6, but they are not recommended for people with certain conditions. And since we know you’re wondering, we’ll also let you know how many bananas you’d have to eat to overdose.
What You Get in Two Bananas
First let’s look at the nutrition facts for two bananas. If you consume this much each day, you’ll take in:
900 mg Potassium (24% RDA)
54 g Carbohydrates (18% RDA)
2 g Dietary fiber (24% RDA)
28 g Sugar
6 g Protein (4% RDA)
You will also get the following percentage of RDA for these vital nutrients:
2% Vitamin A
34% Vitamin C
40% Vitamin B6
So what will happen if you do this every day?
You’ll Make a Big Dent in Your RDA for Potassium
Many of us don’t realize how important potassium is to the body because we don’t know exactly what it does. Potassium is actually one of the most critical nutrients because it is used by every cell in the body to generate the electrical charge needed to function properly. Potassium also plays a role in keeping the heart rate steady, maintaining a healthy blood pressure, and triggering the release of insulin when needed to regulate blood sugar.
The RDA for potassium in healthy adults is between 3,500-4,700mg per day. Certain other factors such as lifestyle can affect the recommended amount, so speak to your doctor if you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough. But two average bananas contain approximately 900 mg of potassium, so that’s a nice start. Other good sources of potassium include white beans, potatoes (white and sweet), beets, spinach, watermelon, and tomato sauce.
You’ll Help Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure
You probably know that too much sodium is a huge risk factor for high blood pressure. What you may not know that it is actually the balance of sodium and potassium that works to control hypertension. The process centers in the kidneys, which help control blood pressure by regulating the amount of fluid stored in the body. Your kidneys filter your blood and suck out extra fluid, which is directed to the bladder as urine.
It is that balance of sodium and potassium that’s used to draw excess water from the bloodstream toward the bladder. When the balance goes off, more fluid is retained and blood pressure is driven up. On average, fewer than 2% of US adults meet their daily RDA for potassium, which means a lot of folks have a significant risk factor for hypertension.
You’ll Lower Your Cancer Risk
An overall diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables is important for minimizing cancer risk because you get your daily dose of critical nutrients without added salt, sugar, food dye, and chemical preservatives. But bananas are especially good because they are high in vitamin C, which is crucial in the fight against carcinogenic free-radicals.
The fiber in bananas is also important for regulating digestive health, and is thought to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.
You’ll Boost Your Heart Health
Achieving the right balance of sodium and potassium is also important for heart health. A recent study revealed that people who got at least 4,069 mg of potassium every day had a 49% lower risk of dying from ischemic heart disease than people who got less than 1,000 mg.
That’s no small amount! But bananas help heart health in other ways, too. The fiber, vitamin B6, and vitamin C all work together to support a strong ticker.
You’ll Soothe Your Upset Stomach
If you’ve ever been to the doctor with an upset stomach, chances are that he or she recommended you follow the BRAT diet. Short for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, the BRAT diet is comprised of basic foods that are easy to digest.
Bananas are great for keeping your stomach and digestive system happy because the potassium helps stabilize your electrolyte balance. The fiber also helps to promote regularity.
You’ll Take in Almost 30g of Sugar
Sugar is a dietary bad word these days, but when it comes to bananas, you don’t need to worry so much. Experts recommend greatly reducing your intake of added sugar, the kind that is pumped into food where it doesn’t exist naturally. The sugar in bananas is natural and comes with a healthy dose of fiber, too.
Fiber helps to slow digestion (sugar and carbohydrates otherwise burn quickly), and stabilizes the impact to your blood sugar. Therefore, bananas are a good mid-day snack or addition to your meals when you need to stay energized.
You’ll Have to Work Really Hard to Overdose
As we’ve mentioned, most Americans are deficient in potassium, and two whole bananas a day won’t provide your full RDA. You’d need to eat 7 or 8 bananas to get enough daily potassium from that source alone. However, too much potassium is just as dangerous as too little – it can destroy your heart muscle, for one. But for a healthy person to reach that danger zone, he or she would need to eat 400 bananas in one day! We suspect that stomach capacity would stop that attempt long before anyone got too much potassium from eating bananas.
So for any healthy person, eating two bananas a day is a great idea. People who are taking beta blockers for heart disease should be careful, as beta blockers raise potassium levels. And bananas are classified as “medium” on the glycemic index, so a twice-a-day habit might not be the best idea for diabetics. Otherwise, have at it. Research indicates that a high potassium intake reduces your risk of death by any physical ailment by a solid 20%. That’s a nice healthy cushion!