Are Banana Smoothies Healthy?

Banana smoothies are low in calories and high in nutrients.

Banana smoothies are low in calories and high in nutrients.

The search for a nutrient-rich and energizing drink is over. Whether you need help waking in the morning or want a healthy snack to get you over that dreaded midafternoon slump, look no further than a banana smoothie. Just one drink delivers complete protein, carbs for energy and more than 7 percent of your daily value of 14 nutrients.

Basics

A banana smoothie consists of one large banana, 1/2 cup of nonfat milk and enough ice to blend the mixture into a drink. With just two simple ingredients, you’ll make a drink that has only 163 calories and no fat as long as you use nonfat milk. It also supplies 5.5 grams of protein, which is 12 percent of women’s recommended daily intake. The milk contributes 4 grams of complete protein.

Carbohydrates

Banana smoothies are high enough in carbohydrates to impact your normal daily diet. One large banana and 1/2 cup of nonfat milk contain 37 grams of total carbohydrates. Women need 130 grams daily, so one banana smoothie supplies 28 percent of an entire day’s intake. You’ll also get 22.8 grams of sugar, or the equivalent of 5 teaspoons of granulated sugar, which comes mostly from the banana. Bananas fall in the middle range of the glycemic index, indicating that they affect blood sugar but not nearly as severely as plain sugar. The banana also supplies 3.5 grams of fiber, or 14 percent of women's recommended daily intake.

B Vitamins

You’ll get at least 7 percent of your daily intake of all the B vitamins, but this smoothie is especially high in vitamins B-6 and B-12. The milk contributes 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B-12, and the banana delivers 38 percent of your daily vitamin B-6. Vitamin B-6 helps produce neurotransmitters that regulate sleep and mood, while vitamin B-12 is essential for the production of red blood cells. Both vitamins may keep your heart healthy by removing the amino acid homocysteine from your blood. Homocysteine that stays in the blood causes the type of inflammation that can lead to cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin C

Bananas probably aren’t the first fruit you think of when you want a good source of vitamin C, but one large banana has 12 milligrams, or 16 percent of your daily intake. Vitamin C exerts its antioxidant influence throughout your body to prevent free radicals from damaging healthy cells and causing inflammation. It also reduces damage to your skin when it’s exposed to sunlight and helps make collagen, which gives your skin strength and elasticity.

Minerals

One banana smoothie supplies 14 percent of women’s recommended daily intake of potassium as well as 16 percent of your daily calcium and magnesium. Each one has its own job to fill, but all three carry the electrical impulses that keep your heart working. Magnesium makes cardiovascular muscles relax, calcium stimulates them to contract and potassium keeps your heartbeat steady. Magnesium and potassium also lower blood pressure, but potassium is vital because it offsets any potential increase in blood pressure caused by eating too much salt.

 

About the Author

Sandi Busch received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, then pursued training in nursing and nutrition. She taught families to plan and prepare special diets, worked as a therapeutic support specialist, and now writes about her favorite topics – nutrition, food, families and parenting – for hospitals and trade magazines.

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