A banana is easy to store and quick to eat. It benefits your cells, muscles, immune system and mood. It is also an effective brain food, giving you nutrients and amino acids that help your brain communicate with the rest of your body. Eating one banana a day can give you energy and benefit your whole body by helping it metabolize the protein and carbohydrates in the other foods you eat.
Bananas are renowned for being rich in potassium, and many people in the United States do not get enough of that mineral. Those who take in more sodium than potassium are at risk for high blood pressure, a common condition in the West. Potassium helps your body extract amino acids from the protein you eat and build muscle. It also helps you metabolize carbohydrates. You need 4.7 grams of potassium a day to meet the Institute of Medicine's nutritional guidelines, and one banana gives you about 500 milligrams.
A banana gives you 37 milligrams of magnesium, a mineral that helps your muscular and nervous systems function normally. It also regulates your heart rhythm, helps keep your bones strong and supports your immune system, according to the National Institutes of Health. The Institute of Medicine recommends women get 265 milligrams of magnesium per day, so one banana gives you about 14 percent of your daily need for this mineral.
A banana provides a small amount of the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate, and about half of the 1.1 milligrams of vitamin B6 you need each day. Getting enough of these vitamins benefits your digestive system and overall health, because they play a role in your body's metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates. Their antioxidant properties help protect you from illness and premature aging. B vitamins may even help prevent heart problems, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
A banana a day may help you feel less stressed and more calm and focused. The amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine help your body make serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that help regulate your mood, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The Institute of Medicine recommends that you get 47 milligrams of tyrosine and 7 milligrams of tryptophan per day. A banana provides 12 milligrams of each, giving you some of the tyrosine and all of the tryptophan you need. A 1/2-cup serving of almonds provides 200 milligrams of tyrosine, so pairing these foods gives you 100 percent of both.
- USDA Nutrient Database: Almonds
- USDA Nutrient Database: Almonds: Bananas, Raw
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Tryptophan
- Franklin Institute: Carbohydrates Fuel Your Brain
- Linus Pauling Institute: Potassium
- Harvard School of Public Health: Three of the B Vitamins - Folate, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12
Maia Appleby is a NASM-certified personal trainer with more than 15 years of experience in the fitness industry. Her articles have been published in a wide variety of print magazines and online publications, including the Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, New Moon Network and Bodybuilding.com.