Forget iron pills, eat banana to boost your blood level — Study

By Sade Oguntola

 

Research has proved that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes.  But energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help to stimulate the production of haemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anaemia.

Anaemia is a condition where there is a decrease in the number of red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood, leading to fatigue, paleness and shortness of breath.

In a new study, researchers found significant differences in haemoglobin levels of students before and after consuming ambon banana. These were students in the first and second grade in Prodi Kebidanan Metro who lived in the dormitory as many as 149 female students.

The results showed an average haemoglobin level before consuming bananas at 12.51 g/dl and the average haemoglobin level after consuming bananas was 12.89 g/dl, so the average increase in haemoglobin levels was 0.39 g/dl. The study is the June edition of Enfermería Clínica.

Previously, experts had linked its blood stimulating capacity to banana’s high iron content. Along with iron, it also makes for a good source of folic acid which is a B-complex vitamin that is required to make red blood cells.

They also indicated that bananas can boost brain power, beneficial for depressive symptoms and lower blood pressure. In a cross-sectional study of 24,673 adults in the Chinese population, researchers had explored the association between banana consumption and depressive symptoms and given evidence that banana consumption might have effects on depressive symptoms.

Depression normally accompanies with the feeling of worthlessness, changing in appetite and depressed moods, which might affect people’s health condition. However, there are no effective therapies to cure depression.

The data of this cross-sectional study were collected from the Tianjin Chronic Low-grade System Inflammation and Health (TCLSIH) Cohort Study that was initiated in 2007.

This study is a large prospective dynamic cohort that is focused on the association between chronic low-grade inflammation and the health status of the population living in Tianjin of China.

Banana consumption was evaluated via a validated food frequency questionnaire. Depressive symptoms were assessed by using Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS). The association between banana consumption and depressive symptoms were analysed by multiple logistic regression analysis.

The 2019 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that moderate banana consumption was inversely associated with depressive symptoms in males. Although the exact mechanisms have not been elucidated, they suggested that serotonin might be the candidate for this positive association.

The researchers had adjusted for many potential confounders, such as age, body mass index, smoking status, drinking status, education level, occupation, household income, total energy intake, physical activity, marital status, visiting friends, individual and family history of diseases, three main dietary patterns and other four substances with a high serotonin concentration.

Interestingly, the present results revealed that females are more likely to suffer from depressive symptoms when the bananas are taken more than four times per week, while this association disappeared in males.

They added, “The finding of our study can strengthen our understanding regarding the different lifestyle between females and males. Females might follow the advice in popular media to consume more bananas when having a low mood.”

However, due to the limitations of the study, they said the cross-sectional study could not conclude that more banana consumption increases or decreases the occurrence of depressive symptoms.

“This conclusion can only be made after a prospective study to confirm the association between banana consumption and depressive symptoms in males and females,” they said.

Moreover, bananas contain lots of potassium, good content of potassium for people with high blood pressure. The combination of high potassium and very low salt makes fruit bananas useful for people with high blood pressure. Potassium content in Ambon banana works similar to antihypertensive drugs in the human body.

As a result of this mechanism, there is an increase in diuresis which causes a reduction in blood volume, so that blood pressure also decreases. WHO in 2012 had recommended increasing potassium intake from food to reduce blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart disease.

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